As a former Marketing Executive, I know how important it is to Know Your Audience when marketing a product or service. As a Coach and Consultant, the same is true.
I recently had the pleasure of working with 16 women who work at our local Rape Crisis Center. Speaking with the Executive Director prior to our CliftonStrengths workshop, she emphasized to me that these women get burned out frequently because of the horrible situations they see every day. In fact, one of our goals with the workshop was to inject some energy and hope into the group.
When I walked into the workshop location that morning, what I saw was a group of positive, high-energy women who were very excited to talk about Talent Themes and learn more about the Power of Strengths. Since I wasn't able to coach them individually prior to the workshop, I did the "First Impressions" exercise. Wow!! Four of the 16 had "Positivity" in their Top-5 and ALL of them said they were surprised because they didn't feel like they were positive people. (Even though it was clear they were Positive people!)
That led to an amazing discussion with the group about what they deal with every day. I was able to adjust the workshop to probe more about how they internalize and manage through the negativity. They never talked about what they felt about their work as a group other than to "gripe to one another" and during the workshop, they talked about how they can support each other so much better now that they know what fills each other's buckets. The transformation was powerful. So much so, that I eliminated another exercise that I had planned so we could let the conversation take its course.
So, key takeaways:
1. Always, always, always have a discussion prior to a workshop about current challenges and the morale, environment, and culture of their organization. Did I mention ALWAYS? This allows you to focus on the audience first, simply using strengths as a means to an end.
2. Be flexible! I let this discussion take on a life of its own because I could see the transformation that was taking place as a result. (Developer #2, Empathy #6)
3. Spend time reliving workshops & coaching interactions to better understand what you did WELL and apply when necessary to future work (i.e. As I do more non-profit work, I have a better understanding of the emotional toll that serving can take.) (Maximizer #3).