Going Deeper with The Best of Us Activity

I love metaphors and analogies.   There are a few on time.

In sales, I was always told that ‘time is money’.  When we go to work, we usually trade our time for money. Participants are trading their time in a workshop and my aim for them is that there is a return on their time.

Time is also a gift, it’s precious.  As an Activator I often want to go fast into things.  In the last 9 years of facilitating CliftonStrengths workshops, I have absolutely learnt that time is a gift when it comes to the desired outcomes of a team session.

One of the most powerful activities you can use with your team or the team you are working with, is The Best of Us activity.  It’s often the firm favourite with coaches and Managers who are using the Strengths-Based Coaching with Managers and teams kit.  It certainly features often in my agendas when I hear from teams and stakeholders that their objectives are to get a better understanding of each other.

There can however be a temptation to rush this activity, to get it done in the 30 mins so we can move on to the next great ‘activity’.  My biggest tip is slow down and go deep.

The Set up

When I facilitate this activity, I give people the heads up early on that as we come towards the end of the workshop they will each be answering 4 questions.  I either write these questions up on a flip chart or suggest they suggest they write them down in the notebooks I give to them.

I suggest that as we go through the day, if they hear something that sparks an answer to any one of these questions, to write it down. 


If I have a group less than say 12, I plan at least 90 mins in the agenda, 5 mins per person to share and then the opportunity to dig a bit deeper into what is said. 

If the group is bigger than this it might be a case of sharing in two smaller groups.  It’s an activity you want each person to be able to share so others can hear, especially if they are part of a team and that is why you have come together.  The key though is to understand who needs to hear this information the most.  If it’s the Manager hearing from the team, then they maybe they ask each of the team these questions in a one on one.  If its different parts of the team that interact with each other the most then it might be worth asking the stakeholder and or the group who should be with who to ensure the best outcomes.

I will always leave this activity towards the end of a workshop.  I recommend to stakeholders that we have a minimum of a day together.  This can be split across two days or four blocks of two hours. By leaving it towards the end, trust has started to build up, even with a team that know each other well, the trust is strengthened and they are happier to go deeper.  CliftonStrengths is a beautiful way to share more about yourself in a positive way.  Even the challenges and you at ‘your worst’ can be framed around blindspots. The participants have already started to share some of this throughout the day, after the name-claim-aim it type activity, the paired conversations, the ‘what is a weakness conversations’ then the discussions around the team grid and data.

By this time they have started to collect some answers to their questions, already voiced some of them and then the activity is a culmination of all these thoughts plus more, which offers greater psychological safety.  I then give them 10 mins to think about this activity more deeply.  After 5 mins I suggest they refer to their Bring and Need and Insights reports from Cascade  as these often have other things that really resonate.  If they go from this alone and too early, you are not getting the depth you could do.

I remind them each person will have 5 minutes to share their responses and that I am not looking for war and peace but that the more you put in, the more you will get out.  It’s their opportunity to share all the things that really ‘cheese them off’, the opportunity to share how they prefer to work and what they need from each other to be at their best, what they can offer more of to the team that they don’t currently utilise. As Gallup’s own Danny Lee explains in his 2021 podcast Strengths Make Wellbeing Work ‘It can really give us a lot of insight on our stress factors.’ Thus, helping us be at our best.

I start by offering some suggestions from my own frame of reference.

  • You get the best of me when you say good morning to me in the morning or ask how I am first before diving straight into the question. I am high Woo, Communication and Positivity
  • You get the worst of me when you crunch an apple anywhere near me.  I suffer from Misophonia.  I don’t expect you not to eat the apple, just warn me so I can move.  Not related to strengths but important for people to know.
  • This is what I need from you, doing what you said you would do, showing up on time or telling me you can’t make it. I am high Responsibility and tis can really bug me.
  • This is what you can count on me for, fun humour, resources, to help you out when you need it.

I often try and start the sharing with the person whom I can see has written a fair amount or I know from my one on one or interactions with them through the day that they will share more deeply, not just a few words.  This sets the scene or sets the bar to the level of sharing that would lead to the best outcomes.  I might remind participants about what they had said right at the beginning of the workshop or via their intake form. Often its ‘learn more about my colleagues and how we can best work together’.  If we skim the surface, we won’t always find the gold. 

So, I mentioned earlier to slow down and go deep.

What do I mean by go deep? 

If we just let each person read out what they have written and move on there is a missed opportunity to REALLY understand what that person means by what they said. We need to dig a bit deeper. 

I encourage questions after each person has shared.  Questions to clarify the meaning of what someone has said.  If they believe they might be assuming something, to stop and to take time to test that assumption.  If they don’t ask the questions, I do on their behalf. Once I start asking questions then others start to as well.


Noun – a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof


Take someone high in Intellection or Deliberative.  These themes are routed in thinking, caution, and time, depending on other themes that surround them.  One of the things I often hear from people high in this theme is “I need time to think” so when they share this, I might ask “When you say time to think Sarah, how much time do you need?” the answer is often “It depends” I then might dig a bit more and ask questions like “How will the team know how much time you need? What support do you need from them?”

Another example might be someone that shares “You get the best of me when I have the big picture”  I might then ask “When you say the big picture, what does that mean to you? What happens if you don’t get the big picture? What support do you need from others to help you get what you need?”

Whoever has gone first, I suggest chooses who goes next.  If we just go around the room you sometimes find that the person going last, is not always fully paying attention, thinking more about what else they might say.

My Summary

As I sit and listen, I write down the common topics that I am hearing.  I take an A4 piece of paper and divide it into 4 with one question in each section.  As I hear something I write it down.  If I hear it again from someone else, I put a tick next to it.  At the end I look to see if there are common patterns.  There always are.

It might be things like

  • Clarity, clear deadlines, context
  • Time to digest, time to think
  • Trust, Respect
  • Flexibility

Before I share, I ask the group what common patterns they heard.  More often than not they heard the same as I did, I might add to it if they didn’t.  This is where the next level of deep comes in. We could pick any of these common topics and dig a bit deeper.  That takes time but it is so worth it.  We are often then getting to the route of what’s really needed.  The things that might be getting in the way of them working effectively as a team, the things that might help them be even more engaged, productive and profitable, the things that will allow them to fully be at their best and play to their strengths everyday.

Let’s take Trust.   

I will ask the question.  “Typically, how long does it take you to trust someone?”

I will ask them then to stand up, I point to one end of the room and say “If you like me, trust people straight away, come and stand this end of the room, if you are someone who takes a long time to trust someone, then stand the other end. I would like you to place yourself on the Trust continuum based on how long it takes you to build trust”

They start to move about the room, some instantly walk to either end, some hover about in the middle.

Once the movement has stopped, I ask the person up the ‘fastest’ end to tell me about why they put themselves there and which of their talents and strengths impacted that decision.

Often I hear things like ‘I am high Positivity, I trust everybody until they prove otherwise’. 

I will then ask the person and the ‘takes a while’ end. I ask “How long does it take you?” if I hear “a while” I ask them to confirm how long is a while and I might hear things like “3-6 months” and that themes like Deliberative, Relator, Analytical are at play.

There is often a big middle and they can say things like ‘it depends’ so I dig deeper.  “It depends on what?

Our unique talents and strengths have an impact on our own trust barometer,  this activity helps them see that.

Each time we dig a little deeper,  we test the assumptions and try to get the heart of the matter and what is REALLY meant.

Some other questions I might ask are:

  • What are some of the things that build trust for your team? (I might write them up on a flip chart)
  • What are some of the things that break trust?
  • When expectations are not met, how do you hold each other accountable? The teams Activity Guide Volume Two has a great activity for Using Strengths to Clarify Expectations

Each question that Is asked I might use the Rule 3+ meaning asking 3 more questions that dig a little deeper into what is being said or meant by that response. It is also a useful tool when thinking about building relationships and really listening to what is being said. He is a good example blog on the topic.

Start, Stop and Continue

This is a great activity to move from discussion to action.  What are they going to do about what we have discussed?  We start to brainstorm the things that as a team they could start doing that would help build trust?  What are some of the things they should Stop doing that are having an impact and what are some of the things that are working well, and they should continue to do?

For each of the key topics you heard you can use the same activity.  Ask questions to dig deeper into what is meant by gaining clarity or have clear deadlines, does this link to how they Communicate as a team?  How do we go about improving this.  In the Gallup Teams Activity Guide Volume 2 there is a great worksheet and slides on How do we Improve team Communication? It uses this Start, Stop and Continue. 

It gives you statistics like Globally, ‘One in four employees strongly agree that their opinions count at work. By doubling that ratio, organizations could realize a 22% reduction in turnover, a 33% reduction in safety incidents and a 10% increase in productivity.’

Share and make them visible

I recommend that the group make their responses to these four questions visible, whilst they might have made notes, these can often get forgotten.  Some teams, scan in what they  wrote and share it to a SharePoint site, some create a Miro board with post it notes, some type it into a google doc.  Whatever the form I strongly recommend that teams refer to it often. 

I recommend that the Manager of the team check in with each person, for them this information on every person on the team is gold.

Revisit them

I recommend that every team revisit this activity again in 2-3 months.  What has changed? On a scale of 1-10 are you getting what you need, having the opportunity to be your best? What’s working and what is not?

I often say that you don’t need me as a facilitator present to revisit it.  The benefits of me being there is that I can ask the questions they are not.  I can help dig deeper as independent ears and eyes and voice the unsaid.

Going Deeper takes time, time is a gift. If you let time tick by without action, nothing changes. Time flies and before we know if 6 months has passed, the team have gone back into the ‘work’.  If we spend time to dig deep the rewards can be greater.  Like looking for gold, it’s not often on the surface.  We have to excavate deeper and take time to look for the nuggets.


Charlotte Blair
31 March 2023