Identifying and focusing on strengths

“The StrengthsFinder workshop helped me to understand myself a little better and apply this understanding when planning my career. I think my career development strategy has changed for the better,” commented Wojciech Szmyt.

From a young age, we are told what we are bad at and where we can improve. In the run-up to the Annual Event, the SNI’s PhD students experienced a completely different – and more positive – approach in a workshop about personal strengths. Yvonne Ulrich from MeTi Coaching taught 21 of the young scientists how to address their strengths, which they had all identified beforehand using the CliftonStrengths® Finder (Gallup).

In the test, the PhD students were presented with 177 pairs of statements and had to decide which statement was more applicable in each case. As a result, they received an overview of their five dominant talents.

It is important to be aware of these strengths, because Gallup research indicates that “when considering where to invest one’s time, energy and attention … the best place to start is in an area of strength”. Of course, that is not to say that weaknesses can simply be ignored.

In the workshop, the PhD students learned to realize their own strengths and to put them into words. According to Yvonne Ulrich, who has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 25 years and talks to many candidates in job interviews, it is commonplace to ask people about their own talents. It therefore makes sense to have appropriate wording prepared for this question.

“The event made us focus on our strengths, which is something that we don’t necessarily do in everyday life and that many of us don’t find very easy,” says Thomas Mortelmans.

Taking account of team members’ different talents is also vital when putting together an ideal team. This was another interesting concept for PhD students, who are likely to lead a series of different teams over the course of their careers and might therefore be in a position to put the Strengths Finder to use.

“An excellent workshop that took an interesting approach to familiarizing me with the relevant language and helping me communicate my strengths – especially during an interview,” Eirini Rousounelou summarized.