APU identifies strengths

Director of the Noel Academy for Strengths-Based Leadership and Education Dr. Keith Hall led a lunch seminar to further educate APU staff members about properly applying their top strengths to their job description to create a more energizing work environment. The interactive luncheon was held on Tuesday, Oct. 6, from 12 to 1 p.m. in the Los Angeles Pacific College Board Room.

Hall posed the question, “What drains us?” to begin the seminar. Multiple staff members called out what came to their mind, such as “angry people,” “change” and “voicemails.”

After focusing on the negative aspects of what is draining to each staff member, Hall asked the audience, “What energizes you, and what is the impact of your contribution on campus?”

Hall reminded the staff that everyone has different strengths that are all needed on campus.

“We are naturally drawn to people wired like us,” Hall said. “This is what comes naturally, but is not the best action. Everyone should strive to connect with people with different strengths and weaknesses. If we only connect with people who are wired like us, they will all have the same strengths and the same blind spots.”

When a colleague is different, people are tempted to ask, ‘What is wrong with you?’ Instead, Hall and his team’s goal is for people to focus on the question, ‘What is right with you?’

Hall told the audience that focusing on what is right with a manager, colleagues, or other APU staff will build relationships and improve performance.

Hall argues that money does not make people work harder, but rather, competence and connectedness do. People will work harder in their profession if they want to improve at their job and are willing to learn from the people around them.

The Gallup Organization performed a study in 2014 and found 31 percent of employees were energized in their workplace while 51 percent were disengaged and had no enthusiasm toward their profession.

Christin Roberson, success coach at the APU University College in San Dimas, said her hope for this seminar was to gain a better understanding of how to use her strengths during her job.

“[I] gained understanding on how to think more critically for my job,” Roberson said.

This event informed APU staff not to think about time management, but rather think about energy management and the motivation it takes to complete a task.

Hall quoted Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, who said, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live can bear with almost any ‘how.'”

Hall said the key to meaningful work is not just knowing ‘what’ people do, but understanding their purposes and giving them a sense of clarity about ‘why’ people do what they do.

“We endorse the Clifton Strengthsfinder, but we promote the strengths perspective,” Hall said. “The strengths perspective is seeing potential and possibility in people and in situations.”

The overarching event allowed attendees to learn more about strengths. Later in the week, students were able to attend specific presentations about each of the 34 strengths.

Graduate assistant Chelsea McHenry said the presentations require many people’s help to coordinate. She works closely with event services to make sure each strength has a presentation and a professor or a graduate student to help teach the students about that particular strength.

“[Our goal is to] raise awareness, especially though social media, to first-year students about strengths and talents to leverage them academically,” McHenry said.