Gallup’s Jane Miller
Fall 2016, News
Envisions Changing Workforce & Advises Companies to Adapt
BY MARY LEE HARVEY DIRCKS
Jane Miller, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Gallup, strives to be her best while also striving to bring out the best in others. This ideal influences her interactions with Gallup’s 140 managers in more than 25 city centers worldwide. “I’m always thinking about how those 140 can touch 2000 people around the world and reach our customers,” she says.
Miller encourages Gallup managers to not only think about how to develop themselves but to develop others by identifying their values and the basis for how they make their decisions. “We hire managers who care first and foremost about how to help their team succeed through each individual’s strengths.”
Miller utilizes these standards in every aspect of her profession. “I try to make sure every day, whether it’s in an email or a handwritten note, that I’m letting people know they are valued, appreciated and respected with gratitude for a job well done, “she says. “The biggest part of my job is making sure people feel affirmed, confirmed, reinforced and recognized for what they are contributing to the greater good.
“This passion to encourage individuals and businesses to be at their best stems from the guiding principles her father, Donald Clifton, instilled. Clifton was named the father of Strengths-Based Psychology and the grandfather of Positive Psychology by the American Psychological Association. “One of his famous quotes was, ‘What if we studied what’s right with people instead of what’s wrong?’” Miller says.
“In the 1970s people thought you were nuts talking about strengths because, at the time, everything in psychology was about what was wrong with people instead of what was right. He had a whole different outlook on life.” Miller and her siblings have incorporated that outlook and have all followed in their father’s footsteps to continue his strengths-based work at Gallup. Clifton was a psychology professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for 19 years and then established Selection Research Inc.(SRI), a market research and personnel testing organization, in 1969. SRI acquired Gallup in 1988 and took on the name.
Working for Gallup was not a family mandate. It was a choice. “I loved teaching and I loved business,” Miller recalls. “I was always toggling between being a teacher or an entrepreneur.” Her father suggested she take business classes while enrolled in the college of education to get the best of both worlds, learning more about human behavior, management and how people learn. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education with emphasis in business. “I literally was debating between the two up until I took my first job straight out of college at SRI. I decided that I’m teacher every day at work, but I get to be in the business world. So that’s where I landed, and I’ve been here for 32 years.”
Miller started in the call center and, as the business grew, added more responsibility to her plate while helping others grow into their roles as managers, leaders and experts in their specializations. “We have always been a very agile company, and we focus on associates’ strengths and talent more than titles,” Miller says about Gallup. “We recruit and select associates and place them in a job that gives them the opportunity to do what they do best every day based on their strengths.”
Miller’s father developed the Clifton StrengthsFinder in 1998. “We all knew it was pretty special then and it has always been something that Gallup has used as an assessment and as a product for our clients, but we didn’t quite realize what hidden gem it was for the world.” Gallup released the internet-based online personal strengths assessment three years ago, making it more mainstream and accessible to everyone. “It has taken off like wildfire!” Miller says.
The essence of Clifton StrengthsFinder is to study what’s good in people and help them recognize it, celebrate it and develop what’s best about them, she explains. “And that is so much what Gallup is doing, by trying to figure out how to help companies be their absolute best and develop their strengths one person at a time.
“Businesses of all types and sizes are finding that they need to adapt and transform to create workplaces that meet the demands of the current and emerging workforce. The workplace is changing at the speed of light, faster than we’ve ever seen, and I would say even more so in the last three to five years,” Miller says. This shift was initially sparked by technology and the growing demand of so many global companies for people to work around the clock.
Another big push, according to Miller, is coming from two groups: 73 million millennials and 73 million women. “Millennials want something very different than their parents had, and women want something very different than what men have,” she explains. “It’s the changing workforce that’s driving so much of what needs changed so that women can have better work-lives.” Studies show that more people from these two groups are picking up project-related jobs, working for several employers instead of being tied down to just one.
“The big companies have to compete with crowdsourcing and contingent workforces like they’ve never had to before,” Miller says. “Traditional businesses of all sizes must adapt to the changes or they won’t be able to compete in hiring and retention of a diverse workforce.” Miller reports there are more than 5 million unfilled jobs in America that will remain vacant if business leaders don’t make adjustments to how the work is able to get done. Those vacancies effect the company and ultimately the economy, she adds.
“Women are consumers of workplaces, and they can be choosy so they can take care of their children and families while also focusing on their own well-being,” Miller says. “Each woman needs to discover her own strengths and own interests and what her family needs are, not just for today but for 10, 20 and 30 years from now. “She recommends being futuristic to make decisions today that will impact what life at age 70 or 80 will look like. W