Creating a Strengths-Based Culture | Contributed by Amy Jackson

Visual Data Systems (VDS), a web design, hosting, and marketing company based in Columbia, MD had an objective to redefine their company culture to one that was strengths-based. Their previous culture included micro-managing managerial staff, very little cross-department sharing of resources, and a competitive management structure.

The founder of VDS realized the destructive nature of that culture and planned to integrate a strengths-based culture where team members would be encouraged to develop their strengths, which would be shared cross-departmentally, to create a unified and strong internal team.


Strengths Assessments:

  • In order to identify strengths at an individual level, Visual Data Systems employees each completed two strengths assessments: The Gallup’s StrengthsFinder 2.0 as well as The StandOut assessment. The StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment revealed an individual’s top five talent themes and The StandOut assessment measures an individual on nine strength roles and identifies their top two.
  • Initial company-wide workshops were held to facilitate the understanding of how the results of these assessments could help define an individual’s unique strengths and the best roles for that individual to play on a team.

Strengths Based Practices

  • Once the employees’ strengths were identified and articulated, strengths-based practices were introduced. Team-building activities and ways to openly share and celebrate strong moments were developed.
  • One-on-ones between managers became opportunities to explore ways to use strengths on a daily basis in the workplace. The organizational culture of Visual Data Systems shifted to target celebrating the diversity of strengths among employees instead of mitigating weaknesses.

Performance Management

  • After the strengths-based culture was solidified, it was agreed that a new employee performance review system needed to be implemented. Visual Data Systems choose as a seamless way for all team members to show how they were using their strengths each review cycle. focuses on specific action items or strenghts-based thanks rather than showing performance metrics.
  • The new performance management system also included more frequent one-on-one reviews between employees and managers; these reviews were attuned to analyzing how the strengths and talents identified by the assessments were allowing a more open work environment.

Strong New Day

  • As a result of the positive response from Visual Data Systems to the new strengths-based culture, an event called Strong New Day took place May 1, 2013. The day’s purpose was to bring awareness to strengths by appreciating unique strengths, becoming aware of when strengths are used, and recording strong moments.
  • Participants in Strong New Day were asked to spotlight their strengths for the entire day, mindfully completing tasks with strengths at the forefront. They were also asked to celebrate their strengths by recording strong moments with friends, family, and colleagues. This unique event joined VDS with the broader community, hosting different events that focused on appreciating strengths instead of fixing weaknesses.

Visual Data Systems found that understanding and volunteering one’s strengths is the best way to create strong internal teams. However, understanding one’s strengths is perhaps even more important when it comes to the external actions of the company. Since the implementation of the strengths-based culture, Visual Data Systems has seen a correlational 24% increase in gross revenues. Building and maintaining an organizational culture of strengths is an ongoing process, but with the use of, VDS has found continuity in highlighting the unique talents and strengths of each team member.

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