As I mentioned in my last post, taking assessments can be an important way to help you understand your personal brand.
As I mentioned in the previous post, some people can understand their brand without taking assessments, others cannot. Me personally, I needed to take assessments. I needed the validation and verification that comes from taking a more scientific approach.
In fact, I actually ended up taking three assessments total; two during the personal branding process and one a little later. The three assessments I took were the StrengthsFinder 2.0, StandOut and the Fascination Advantage.
This post will cover the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment, specifically, what the test is, what you get when you take it and my interpretation of the results.
WHAT IS IT
The StrengthsFinder Assessment is the one that I’m sure you’ve heard about which I why I decided to start with this one. It was originally published in 1998 by Gallup and was written by Tom Rath. The assessment is a culmination of forty years of research conducted by Donald Clifton on human strengths.
The book itself, $15 on Amazon (affiliate link) provides you with an overview of the assessment including the history and explanation of why it’s important to know your strengths. In addition, it gives you the details for all of the 34 strength themes identified during the forty year study by Donald Clifton.
Each strength theme has its own section which includes descriptions of questions such as what the strength theme “sounds” like, ideas for action, and how to work with others who may share the same strength. Most importantly you get a unique access code that allows you to take the assessment online.
WHAT YOU GET
The assessment takes about a half hour to complete. Once completed, you’ll get a report that spans nearly twenty pages. This report ranks and details your top five (5) strength themes.
The assessment ranks you in all 34 strength themes but only provides you with the top five in your report. If you want to know where the remaining 29 strength themes fall, you can find but it will cost you an extra $79. In my opinion, the top five are all you really need.
Your report is divided into three sections; Awareness, Application, and Achievement. Each section provides specific details about each of your top five strength themes. As an example for Awareness, you get a description, insights and questions you can answer to help you become more aware of your strengths.
NOTE: If you choose to take this assessment do NOT buy the book at a used book store. If you do there is a good chance (read as 100%) that the access code has already been used thus rendering the book worthless for taking the test.
MY RESULTS – TOP FIVE STRENGTHS
My top five strengths are listed below. For each strength theme, I’ve provided Gallup’s definition as well as my interpretation of the results which I hope will help you interpret your own results.
Here is Gallup’s theme description for Strategic:
People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
Said another way, I’m good at solving complex problems. I do this by venturing beyond the commonplace, the familiar (think Status Quo here), or the obvious. I entertain ideas about the best ways to reach a goal, increase productivity, or solve a problem, which allows me to pinpoint fundamental glitches or missing steps.
I can make sense out of seemingly unrelated information by reconfiguring factual information or data in ways that reveal trends, raise issues, identify opportunities, or offer solutions. This might be why I have an obsession with white boards.
I have been told by others that I can be innovative, inventive, original, and resourceful. Which is why I’m usually asked to help resolve difficult problems. Put a white board in front of me and I’ll help you “see” where the problems are in a process.
Maybe I should have been a detective, like Batman.
Gallup’s theme description for Context:
People who are especially talented in the Context theme enjoy thinking about the past. They understand the present by researching its history.
Although I do read books about historical events, this strength stumped me when I first read it. Then I read this sentence in the insights section:
You spend time with people who are knowledgeable about events of the past. They can enlighten you about important events, places, or individuals which helps you reflect on what could have been improved or done better.
Interestingly enough, whenever I’m working on a project to improve a business or manufacturing process, I like to start at the beginning; the pre-beginning actually. Understanding how a process got to where it helps me understand the decisions behind how we arrived where we are and offers clues on how to proceed.
Again, very detective like. I mean, have you ever seen a detective solve a crime by looking forward? Of course not. They always look to the past to understand how we arrived in the present.
Doing so allows them to determine things like motive. Have you ever heard this before, “That’s they way we’ve always done it.” This phrase drives me crazy and guess what, the way we’ve always done it = motive.
Think that’s a stretch? The definition of motive is something that causes a person to act in a certain way or do a certain thing. If that the way it's always been done then that causes a person to act in a certain way, i.e. motive.
I’m coming for you, Batman.
Gallup’s theme description for Futuristic:
People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.
I think being a futurist would be awesome. Unfortunately, that’s not what this strength is about, technically speaking. Instead, the futuristic strength theme means that I contrive innovative ideas and forward-looking plans about what will be possible in the coming weeks, months, years, or decades. I do enjoy putting together 2 – 3-year strategic plans and working them backward to understand how actions taken today impact the future.
I tend to think about what can be fixed and how we (or me) can do better. Pair this strength with strategic and you can see that when I am working on designing a new process, I consider the ramifications of the new process well into the future. I ask questions such as will this change impact other processes?
It does no good to fix something in one area if all you are doing is pushing the problem further downstream. You don’t need to be futuristic to think longer term when solving problems. Your goal should always be to solve the problem at the source and not make your problem today, someone else’s problem tomorrow.
Gallup’s theme description for Relator:
People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.
I have always been told that I can make even the most unintelligible or complex ideas, plans, procedures, or regulations easy to understand. Perhaps that’s why I tried to start a town once.
I’m also pretty open and straightforward which makes it easy for people to relate to me. Perhaps this why I function well as a team leader or project manager. My team trusts me and knows I will go to bat for them. I can also explain the high-level project in a manner that helps them understand how their role and contribution benefits the company as a whole.
This strength theme always helps me understand why people have come to me for advice and mentorship on various aspects of their lives in the past. I never knew or understood why, until I discovered this strength.
Gallup’s theme description for Restorative:
People who are especially talented in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.
The restorative strength is all about fixing things are broken. I think of it as bringing things and processes back to life. I enjoy the challenge of analyzing problems, identifying what is wrong and finding a solution. This is probably why I excelled in my supplier quality and development days.
Of course, in order to fix problems, you need to find new ideas and I’ve been told more than once that I always have “innovative ideas or original suggestions”. I have even been asked to participate on teams at times for just this reason, to bring a fresh perspective and challenge current thinking.
I’ve even been “accused” by co-workers of being an idea man like Bill Blazejowski from the movie Night Shift. Thanks, Doug.
I’m just glad I don’t have to carry around the big tape recorder. I much prefer to capture my ideas with my iPhone in Evernote.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
So now what? I have all of this great information about myself but what does it all add up to? Unfortunately, Gallup does not combine the results into one comprehensive answer to this question. You need to interpret the results for yourself.
Reading through the results report, I was able to find multiple descriptions, phrases or sentences that would stop me in my tracks and make me shake my head saying, “That is definitely me.” This didn't happen in every case but even the sentences that didn’t make my hair stand on end were relevant and applicable.
In fact, I couldn’t really argue with any of the results. I am all the things the StrengthsFinder assessment pointed out.
To help me narrow down my thinking and really focus on what each strength theme was telling me, I created this WORKSHEET. As you’ll see once you’ve downloaded it you’ll have a place for the most relevant information.
For each theme highlight the phrases that stick out in your mind. The ones that make you stop and say, “That is me.” After you’ve filled in each worksheet, set aside the assessment results and focus only on the worksheets you’ve just completed.
Scan through each worksheet again. Have you selected the correct phrases? If not, go back through the results report and find different phrases. Once you feel like you have a very accurate description of you for each theme, select the phrase that you feel best describes you.
Do this for each strength theme. Write each of the single phrases you’ve selected on the worksheet titled, combine all strengths. Do this order of your top five themes. Do not think about how they go together right now, just write in the sentence.
Once you have all five phrases in this worksheet, now take the time to rearrange them into no more than three sentences that you feel best to describe you. Here are the three sentences I came up with for my results.
I enjoy analyzing problems to identify what is wrong and finding innovative solutions to achieve goals and increase productivity. I solve problems by understanding how we arrived where we are in order to help develop the best path forward. I challenge both people and processes to consider what is possible by breaking down complex ideas or problems so they become easy to understand.
I could easily add a few more sentences to this, however, the point of this exercise is to be brief and concise. Say the sentences out loud to yourself. Does it sound like you? Take it one more step and read it to one of your trusted advisors. Do they believe it sounds like you?
If you answered yes, Great Job! If it still doesn't feel right to you, keep at it. The right answer will come.
QUESTION: Have you taken the StrengthFinder test? Share your results with me on Twitter @RyanRhoten
Batman photo from http://www.vectortemplates.com/raster/old-batman-logo.gif