Meet NHS nurse consultant, Ria Betteridge. Ria manages a specialist nursing team and finds that the simplicity of the Strengths Cards makes them accessible and perfect for story-telling.
My first ever exposure to the Strengths Cards was a few years ago, with a local community committee group. We used them to identify both our own and each other’s strengths. I took to the cards instantly: I was drawn to how energising it felt to focus only on the positives and how effectively the cards brought us all together.
Discussing strengths - using the cards to guide us - helped us to see how each of us use our strengths and, in turn, think about how we could leverage them together as a group. The cards had a really positive effect on the group… we really felt like we were on the same page.
…second time around
I then borrowed the deck for an away-day with my team; I found that the cards set the day up nicely on a tone of curiosity and positivity. The cards were spread out on a big table in front of us and we used them for an hour as an ice-breaker activity. We started with the photo side up, which helped initiate dialogue and story-telling, since the images are so open to interpretation. We then turned the cards over, so the word sides were face-up. First, we each chose three cards, which we identified as our own strengths. Then, we each chose five cards to reflect the team’s collective strengths. Lastly, we individually chose one card for each team member, based on what we thought their main strength was and explained our reasoning. It was particularly interesting to explore what other people say your strengths are – often they’re different to the ones you select!
Following the pandemic
Fast-forward a few years, there had been a lot of change… the pandemic, operational pressures, new faces, and other changes. Recently there’s been a big focus on staff wellbeing and given the turbulence of the past couple of years has thrown at us, I felt we needed a reset. I turned back to the Strengths Cards and did the same strengths-identifying exercises. Those who had used the cards before remembered them and were actually really excited to work with them again! This time was slightly different, as some of the team were working from home, others on site. Despite this, the cards were still just as effective: they made everyone feel included and reinforced the fact that everyone has something to offer.
“We are not clones of each other: having a team full of different strengths is a great thing”
You need variation and a team full of diverse, complementary strengths. My team found them really grounding and helped us to continue to move forwards. We’re actually in the process of framing everyone’s individual strengths, to have them mounted on the wall, so they’re visible all of the time. The cards helped us to think a little differently - we are not clones of each other: having a team full of different strengths is a great thing.
In nursing we spend a lot of time reflecting. Perhaps too much time reflecting on negatives, looking at what went wrong or problems. We can end up in a spiral of not thinking in a positive light about our strengths. The Strengths Cards are a really good tool for nurses – they help us check-in and reconnect. The cards put everyone on the same page; for instance, my team is multi-cultural and international, yet nobody had difficulty understanding the meaning of the words or using the cards. The cards easily bring everything back into perspective and create focus.
If you’re thinking about using the Strengths Cards, do it!
“The cards’ simplicity is their biggest strength”
You don’t have to be an expert - I used the cards as an absolute novice! Anyone can use them and get value out of them. The card’s simplicity is their biggest strength! I’ve used StrengthsFinder in the past and found the assessment style lengthy – you have to fill in and answer reels and reels of questions. We are already overwhelmed with papers, forms, documentation and admin! I prefer the style of the Strengths Cards – particularly being able to narrate strengths, rather than having to complete a long questionnaire. The Strengths Cards really lend themselves to team settings, as they allow you to verbally feed-back and have group discussions – something you don’t get with so easily with other tools. I find them more personable. I love the creative nature of the cards - having something visual is a gift.
A huge thank you to Ria, for sharing her experience.
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