Thursday, January 20, 2011

Work Smarter: Use Your Strengths

by Diana Antholis

Would you like to make it to the bar for happy hour in time for the two-for-one martinis? Do you wish your boss would shut it be nicer? Is swimming in the Hudson River more attractive than working with your team?

If you answered yes to these questions, don’t fret. You are not alone. Most people complain about something at work, the most popular being the long hours, the boss, the co-workers, and the boss (yes it is worth repeating). But do people take action against the mediocrity? Do they let their boss swallow them whole? Are they slowly getting sucked into their cubicles, barely seeing sunlight during the day?

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if things could change? Well guess what, they can change. YOU can make the change. It’s time, fellow activists, to work smarter. By working smarter, you can be more productive during real work hours, have a decent relationship with your boss, and suggest and implement improvements to make your team work together instead of tearing each other apart. Working smarter helps you perform better at work and in turn, builds a better workplace. We spend most of our waking hours at work; you deserve to be happy while you’re there.

Change is a scary word. It literally gives people goose bumps. But you are going to be different. You are going to start with your strengths. By recognizing and taking hold of your strengths, you can work smarter in your organization. For example, maybe you make excellent decisions. People marvel at how you can assess a situation and effortlessly deliver a brilliant solution to the problem. Maybe your boss sucks at this is not a good decision-maker. This, obviously, can make you want to pull out your hair. Urge your boss to make better decisions. Work your magic in your conversation with your boss and steer him/her to the right conclusion. Your team will thank you.

This works with any strength you may possess. Are you compassionate, inspiring, encouraging, motivating, challenging, organized, balanced, or a great listener? You can use these strengths to make the change you need to be happier at work, even if you are not in the typical leadership position. Lead from the middle. Motivate fellow team members to speak up in brainstorming sessions. Challenge your co-workers to dream up the next million-dollar idea. Listen carefully to understand the needs of your team and communicate them to your boss. Work together to create work/life flexibility strategy that lets you spend more time outside of the office (as in actually showing up during happy hour).

Not only use your strengths, but also engage your co-workers and encourage them to embrace their strengths. The common thought process is “figure out your weaknesses and improve them.” Why are we not building upon our strengths? This is why we create teams at work - to balance someone’s weakness with another’s strength. If no one is using their strengths, morale will be low, turnover will be high, and workplaces will suffer.

It’s time to take control of your life. Don’t let your boss, your company, or your co-workers win. You are the one who spends unnecessary time working when it could be spent taking your kids to the zoo, catching the waves during the perfect surf, or showing up to the happiest hour of the day. Make it work. Use your strengths. Show others how to use their strengths by example. Work smarter.

Diana Antholis is a Strategy Consultant for Performance Advantage Inc, a training and consulting firm dedicated to making people feel better about work and work smarter in the workplace. With an MA in Organizational Management, she focuses on researching organizational behavior and work/life management issues. Her career experience is in advertising and fashion marketing at top New York City and San Diego agencies. She is also the founder of Enter: Adulthood, a blog dedicated to young adults who are transitioning into the “real world.” You can connect with Diana on Twitter @dianaantholis or @worksmarta and LinkedIn.


  1. I love this post! The best part is that you motivate people to take matters into their own hands. It's amazing how much can get done if you're willing to step up to the plate and own it.

  2. Thank you Noel!! People wait for others to take charge, why don't you do it yourself!?