517: The Power of Fitting Strengths to Role with Gallup’s Jim Harter



Jim Harter, PhD, Chief Scientist, Workplace for Gallup

Dr. Harter has led more than 1,000 studies of workplace effectiveness and is the author of multiple bestselling books on wellbeing at work.

On this episode

If you could meet with anyone who would it be? We’ve all been asked variations of this question! My answer might surprise you.

Some people might want to meet Oprah, or Bruno Mars, or The Dalai Lama. They’re all great I’m sure! But nope.

I’ve been waiting for years to meet Jim Harter, the Chief Scientist of Workplace and Wellbeing at Gallup.

Now, let me give you some context. I’m what you might call a nerd for these topics. I geek out over understanding well-being, work dynamics, and the power of psychology. And if there’s one organization in the world that possesses an incredible wealth of knowledge and data about these topics, it’s Gallup. And at the helm of all that valuable information is none other than the data wizard himself: Jim Harter.

Thanks to his team’s research, we now know what truly creates the happiest, most engaged, and ridiculously productive people in their work. Can you guess what it is? I’ll drop you a little hint: It’s not fancy office perks like ping pong tables, it’s not even pay or flexibility (although those are pretty high up there).

As it turns out, there’s something that holds even greater sway over our work satisfaction. Drumroll, please… It’s whether our strengths align with the roles we perform at work. That’s right, my friends. The key to unlocking fulfillment in our work lies in fitting your strengths your career, and more specifically your role. 

But let’s clear up any misconceptions here: When I say “strengths,” I’m not referring to tasks or skills. This doesn’t mean working all day doing things you’re “good at.” If you are a badass at building pivot tables in Excel, but you can’t bring yourself to build another pivot table… well that’s not what I’m talking about when I say strengths. 

What we’re really talking about is being able to show up as our truest selves (meaning, no “work persona” as Taj on our team says) and you get to use “who you are” to solve problems, meet challenges, and essentially use your talents in the way you do best. That’s what I’m talking about.

If collaboration is how you get things done best and your role requires it. Awesome! 

If you can’t stop the ideas for improving your processes and systems and it’s your job to improve processes and systems, Let’s Go! 

If you’re one of the only people you know who doesn’t get nervous speaking in front of people and enjoys making presentations all the time and that’s what you get to do… well those are great matches!

In the latest episode of the Happen To Your Career podcast, I had the pleasure of chatting with Jim Harter about his groundbreaking research on the importance of matching strengths to roles when it comes to finding fulfilling work. If you’re still trying to puzzle out the importance of strengths when it comes to work or if you’re just a nerd for the date and research that goes into aligning strengths with career (like me) be sure to give this episode a listen! 

What you’ll learn

  • How organizations can create a thriving culture of engaged employees 
  • The research and data-backed knowledge that supports the link between strengths and finding fulfilling work
  • How to have more meaningful conversations with your leader (or your team if you are a leader!)