Workplace Engagement - Part 2 of 2

What do your pastimes and pet peeves reveal about your motivations?

April 2019

Why do some things drain us, yet other things energize us? The answer lies in our talents.

Talent, as defined by Gallup, is our natural way of thinking, feeling, and doing. Talent channelled productively, and intentionally, results in a strength – the ability to consistently deliver excellent results. Uncovering your own unique talents and applying them in the context of our day-to-day lives represents our greatest opportunity for success. And success brings that positive energy I talked about in part 1 of this article.

And the best part is: talent is present in all of us - hooray!

The problem is: it’s easy to take our innate talents for granted or to mistake our talents for personality quirks.

Woman in office looking at ipad

Those who know me know that I’m weird in my own special ways – my most jarring recurring nightmare, for example, puts me running late in various circumstances. Running late with no way to communicate my lateness. My subconscious appears to be more afraid of being late than dying!

There’s a clue as to why this might be the case if you look at my professional life. In part 1 of this article, I asked you to think of a time when you felt productive, successful, and of value. Something I’ve been complimented on – a consistent area of excellence as identified by my peers - a strength – is the way I facilitate the meetings and sessions I host.

I’m known for carefully managing and respecting the time of participants by starting and ending on time or asking for consensus on extending when warranted. Keeping things on schedule and communicating are the same two themes from my recurring ‘nightmare’.

The same way we sometimes mistake our talents for personality quirks, we often disregard those compliments we receive when we should be using them as clues to our talents. Likewise, we can learn a lot from examining the things that annoy us – our pet peeves. Given what I’ve just told you, it may not come as a surprise that one of my pet peeves involves time and the inefficient use of it.

I found myself consistently annoyed by a particularly inefficient process in my personal life. A process that would often result in consistently being late - or later than planned, which is basically the same thing when you are the person having nightmares about being late!

This process is now known as the Friday Night Doggy Digestion Dilemma.

Hand holding dog food bowl to feed dog on floor

On a given night of socializing, a friend had a habit of doing things in a routine 8 step process as we prepared: shower, get dressed, feed dog, wait for dog to digest, let dog out, give dog a treat to satiate the guilt for going out, and leave. Total process time: approx. 30 mins.

By the time he was dressed, we were already running tight for time and I was turning the corner from annoyed towards frustrated. I wondered why he wouldn’t just tweak the sequence: feed the dog BEFORE showering to allow the required time for digestion to happen concurrently, rather than consecutively, and shave 10 mins off prep time. Total process time: approx. 20 mins.

The same 8 step process rearranged slightly would increase productivity by 33%. And it felt so obvious to me that I expressed it. My friend’s response was both wise and insightful, “not everyone thinks like you.”

Two coworkers laughing in office

I was humbled at the realization that I had taken my own innate ways of thinking, feeling, and doing – my talent – for granted. Worse, I had let myself become frustrated and a tad unpleasant.

So, you see, the same talent that can help you to be productive (in this case time management), can also contribute to unproductive behaviours.

How is this connected to engagement? Gallup research shows that people who know and use their talents at work are three times more likely to be engaged in their jobs.

By being aware of our unique talents we can help channel our time, energy, and approaches more productively. And productivity with purpose is the best way to bottle that positive energy and make us feel like we GET to go to work.

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