The Art of Strengths Coaching

A is for The Achievement Model

There are many models for understanding how people do superb work. One approach is to clarify how they rate in the areas of attitude, ability, application, adventure and achievement.

Imagine that you are recruiting people for your team. How can you be a good talent spotter? How can you tell whether a person is hungry? How can you judge whether they will translate their potential into performance?

This piece outlines five qualities you can look for to recognise potential achievers, but one key point is worth underlining. A person may be an achiever in one or two specific areas of brilliance, but not necessarily in others.

The talent spotter’s role is to identify where the person has both the will and the skill required to deliver the goods. If appropriate, it is then to work with them to create a win-win – a win for the organisation and a win for person.

The following pages provide questions you can ask yourself – and the person – regarding each step along the road to achievement.

Attitude

Imagine you are interviewing a person or watching them in action. Here are some questions to ask as you consider their performance.

What is the person’s attitude? Are they positive or negative? Will they bring positive energy to the team? How do people feel about them?

Do they take responsibility or avoid responsibility? Do you believe they will make and keep clear contracts? Will other people be confident that the person will deliver?

Is the person resilient? How do they react to setbacks? Do they say: “I can shape the future,” or “The world is wrong”?

Are they customer focused? Do they have the desire to give good customer service? Can they give examples of when they have given good customer service?

If you asked them to do some pre-work before an interview, what was their approach to the task? Was it professional or careless?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the extent to which you believe the person has the right attitude to deliver the required results. Rate this on a scale 0 – 10.

Describe your reasons for giving this rating.

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Ability

People need more than the right attitude. They also need to have the right ability, to apply themselves and, on occasions, to be adventurous.

Let’s focus on their ability. Do you believe the person has the ability to deliver the required results? Here are some questions you can ask when exploring this topic.

What are the person’s strengths? What are the specific activities in which they consistently deliver As, rather than Bs or Cs?

One approach to recognising a person’s abilities is to clarify their pattern for delivering things successfully. Looking back on their life and work, invite them to describe what for them have been two deeply satisfying projects.

Looking at each project in turn, what did they find satisfying? Can you see any recurring patterns? What is their successful style – their preferred way – of working? What were the principles they followed to do superb work?

If you are looking for a co-ordinator, for example, you are looking for somebody who says some of the following things.

I like to make things work. I enjoyed organising the social events at University. I still organise the annual ski trips some of us take.

At work I am often used to make sure projects are delivered properly. I just love to make sure thing work well.

You will obviously be looking for a particular history of successful patterns if you are hiring for a visionary leader, people manager, marketer or whatever.

Clarify the principles the person has followed previously to superb work. You can then decide whether they have the ability to deliver the required results.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the extent to which you believe the person has the ability to deliver the required results. Rate this on a scale 0 – 10.

Describe your reasons for giving this rating.

Describe what the person can do to maintain or improve the ratings.

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Application

Application is vital, so the person must be prepared to work hard. Many people have talent but refuse to apply themselves to the task. Ask yourself the following questions.

Is the person prepared to work hard? What are the activities in which the person is naturally self disciplined? Do they prepare properly? How do they manage their work? Invite them to describe their system for organising themselves.

Is the person proactive or reactive? Do they make clear working contracts with people? Do they consistently deliver high professional standards?

Do they proactively keep people informed about their progress? Are they good at managing their sponsors – their bosses and other stakeholders? Do they provide great service to both internal and external customers?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the extent to which you believe the person has the application to deliver the required results. Rate this on a scale 0 – 10.

Describe your reasons for giving this rating.

Describe what the person can do to maintain or improve the ratings.

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Adventure

Application will get a person so far and that may be enough to reach the goals. On some occasions, however, they may also be required to add creativity.

What are the activities in which they always do the basics and then add the brilliance? When does the person add that touch of adventure? When do they use their creativity? When do they add that touch of class?

What are the specific situations in which they are good at creative problem solving? When do they focus on clarity, creativity and concrete results?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the extent to which you believe the person has, if appropriate, the adventure to deliver the required results. Rate this on a scale 0 – 10.

Describe your reasons for giving this rating.

Describe what the person can do to maintain or improve the ratings.

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Achievement

What are the specific activities in which the person achieves the required results? Looking back at their previous achievements, what did they do right then to finish successfully? How can they follow similar principles in the future?

What are their personal and professional goals? Are they willing to align their agenda with that of the team? Are they willing to show how they can contribute towards achieving the team’s goals?

What would be their best contribution to the team? What will be pluses – for the team, the customers, the colleagues and the person? What may be the potential minuses? How can they and you build on the pluses and minimise the minuses?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the extent to which you believe the person is likely to achieve the required results. Rate this on a scale 0 – 10.

Describe your reasons for giving this rating.

Describe what the person can do to maintain or improve the ratings.

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Bringing it all together

Complete your assessment by listing all the ratings. Based on this, decide if you want to take the discussions further with the person.

One crucial point. It is vital for the person to score at least 7+ in the areas of Attitude, Ability and Application. This provides the basis for making a fine contribution to the team. You can then explore further how they can make clear working contracts and deliver the required concrete results.

The achievement model can also be used in many different fields. I used it in such diverse areas as when scouting players for football clubs and recruiting senior managers for business.

Once a person knows where they can excel, it can be useful to invite them to rate themselves on each of the five steps. This can lead to a fruitful conversation and provide the basis for building a development plan. You can then work together to achieve ongoing success.

If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. Looking at the candidate, this invites you to do the following things.

Describe the ratings you gave the person in each of the areas.

Bearing in mind these ratings, describe your recommendations regarding the next steps with the person.

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