Editor’s note: Grace Ueng is the founder of Savvy Growth, a noted leadership coaching and management consulting firm, and an expert on happiness and human performance. Grace writes a regular column on Happiness & Leadership for WRAL TechWire.


 RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Last week, I shared how one of our clients holds regular “Progress and Potential” conversations. Their CEO loved the book, It’s the Manager, by Gallup Chairman Jim Clifton and their Chief Scientist, Jim Harter so much, that she supplied copies for all 300 of her managers.

“It’s the Manager” book cover

The core finding from Gallup’s largest global study of the future of work is that the new workforce wants their work to have deep mission and purpose. They don’t want old-style command and control bosses.

Clifton and Harter discuss how great managers maximize the potential of every team member to drive a company’s growth.  They give every employee what they want most:  a great job and a great life.  That is the future of work.

Gallup revealed that the No. 1 reason people are changing jobs is for better career growth opportunities. And the desire for career growth is only growing.

Accordingly, our client, the CEO encourages all 300 of her managers to ask, at regular intervals,  in their 1-on-1s with direct reports, the eight questions listed in Chapter 25, entitled “Make ‘My Development’ the Reason Employees Stay:

  1. What are your recent successes?
  2. What are you most proud of?
  3. What rewards and recognition matter most to you?
  4. How does your role make a difference?
  5. How would you like to make a bigger difference?
  6. How are you using your strengths in your current role?
  7. How would you like to use your strengths in the future?
  8. What knowledge and skills do you need to get to the next stage of your career?

Setting aside regular time with your people for them to share answers to these questions, creates the foundation for career growth plans to take shape.

How can you shift your job into a calling?

Last week I delivered a HappinessWorks™ workshop for a client.  We discussed the importance of creating meaningful work for themselves as well as the employees they lead.  This meaningful work is work where they can earn their success, have a sense of accomplishment, and where their skills meet their passions. Where their job makes life better in a meaningful way through their service to others.

I presented the concept of job crafting and the importance of mindset. I shared the example of the member of a hospital’s cleaning staff who considered her role not as a janitor, but as an important part of the patient’s care team. She would change the position of the artwork in the rooms of patients who were critically ill to offer them fresh perspectives each day. I was excited when one of the participants said during the debrief that he would focus in the coming month on job recrafting after hearing of this example.

Grace Ueng

Case Study: Applying the 8 Questions to Me!

To illustrate, I thought it would be helpful to answer these questions as I discuss with Teddy, my piano teacher, my next goals for my piano playing. And of course, I constantly think about how to grow in my work as a consultant, coach, and workshop teacher.


What are your recent successes?

Honoring my parents through sharing my personal stories at Ruggero’s Fourth Friday concert giving the gift of music to my family and friends.

What are you most proud of?

Growing closer to my sister through studying piano. My dad would be happy

What rewards and recognition matter most to you?

While at this stage in life, I certainly am not practicing in expectation to become recognized as a senior prodigy 🙂, I would like to see what masterclasses / competitions I might do in the coming years to have a goal to work toward. I progress better if I have a tangible goal.

How does your role make a difference?

I hope to inspire others to pick up a musical instrument, even late in life.

Many people have told me they have started after reading about my restart.

How would you like to make a bigger difference?

I would like to find meaningful ways to share my music. I will be performing at my parents’ senior community in the New Year – I am excited to see some old friends of my parents and share with them the gift of music.

How are you using your strengths in your current role?

I am bringing passion for my positive psychology and performance psychology studies to bear in my piano performances, being excited and grateful for the opportunity to provide a gift to my audience.

How would you like to use your strengths in the future?

I plan to deepen my performance psychology studies with Noa Kageyama, psychologist on the faculty of Juilliard as well as my positive psychology studies with Tal Ben-Shahar and Harvard Business School professor, Arthur Brooks.

What knowledge and skills do you need to get to the next stage of your career?

More deliberate practice, expanded repertoire and understanding of music to develop more musicality and expression in my performing.


What are your recent successes?

Designing and delivering a retreat to work on collaboration and camaraderie for over 100 faculty and staff of a business school including a HappinessWorks™ session that was very well received.

What are you most proud of?

I am proud when clients embrace the process in our coaching & consulting engagements, going well beyond the goals we initially set.

Example: One coaching client was recently promoted to become COO during our engagement.  This was well ahead of his expected timing. I coached him through opening up a window of opportunity with the CEO and he successfully had a timely conversation that resulted in his being named the interim COO and then promoted into the role on a permanent basis a few months later.

What rewards and recognition matter most to you?

When we can help our clients grow and thrive.

The opportunity to inspire the readers of my weekly Happiness & Leadership column to step outside their comfort zones and take action to improve their lives.

How does your role make a difference?

Increase personal wellbeing for employees, resulting in stronger corporate performance, and creating a better place for their teams and their families.

How would you like to make a bigger difference?

I would like to reduce the negative consequences of our youth mental health crisis. I would like to bring my HappinessWorks™ programming to 100 campuses.

How are you using your strengths in your current role?

I am using my passion for positive psychology in coaching leaders.

I am teaching concepts and delivering practical applications to workshop participants, so they can see how the science of positive psychology works, and takes ongoing work.

How would you like to use your strengths in the future?

I would like to continue coaching leaders and delivering human performance workshops and measure the positive impact over time for 100 companies.

What knowledge and skills do you need to get to the next stage of your career?

I am excited about completing my certificate program in happiness studies with Tal Ben-Shahar, creator of Harvard’s recording breaking Positive Psychology course and receiving my diploma later this month in Cartagena.

I look forward to continuing my studies with Arthur Brooks, who teaches Leadership & Happiness at Harvard Business School.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to answer these same 8 questions.  Then ask each of your team to also.

About Grace Ueng

Grace is a strategy consultant,  leadership coach and human performance expert with Savvy Growth. Her company offers workshops to move teams forward: Savvy’s Seven: What You Will Learn. Transformative companies hire Grace to deliver her HappinessWorks™ program to boost performance. Join her Happiness & Leadership community and learn to be a happier and better leader: click here