They’re reading my mind! By Viv Woodley
I’ll be honest with you, I approached Strengths Finder 2.0 with a groan and a big pinch of salt. Having worked in corporate companies for 15 years I’ve come across a lot of personality tests that promise to uncover your depths and then change your life –TKI, Myers Briggs, Kahler’s Motivational Drivers – so I expected another broad brush personality outline that’s about as accurate as star signs. However, the results are at the very least spooky and at best, one of the smartest management tools around
The short descriptions in the book that accompanies this test didn’t raise my hopes. 34 themes – from ‘Achiever’ to ‘Woo’ –with half page descriptions that are very high level. But like a good corporate citizen I logged onto the Strengths Finder website, entered my code and completed my questionnaire. A report was generated showing my top five themes: Analytical (no surprise there), Harmony (really?), Arranger, Intellection and Relator. So far so samey. But then I turned to the report descriptions –and nearly fell off my chair! I found sentences that I regularly use in conversation, others that I’ve included in my LinkedIn or have cropped up in positive performance reviews, and descriptions of positive behaviours that could only have come from a close colleague or friend. How did they know? Have they been bugging me? Are there hidden cameras following me around? Notice I said ‘positive’ above –in stark contrast to a lot development tools, Strengths Finder is about finding out what you’re good at and building on it. The team of Gallup scientists behind it have discovered that “people have several times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies”.
And it’s good for business too. Further studies indicate that people who focus on their strengths in their day to day work are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs. If the organisation’s leadership focuses on strengths engagement jumps to 73%, up from a measly 9% when the leadership focuses on weaknesses. So the numbers are good, but being Analytical I need “reasons and causes” for why this works. I need to understand the detail behind it. Luckily, so did Gallup. Traditional education and workplace development focuses on people’s weaknesses, lowering their overall self-confidence. In contrast, focusing on strengths boosts self-confidence as people perform well at work, which in turn boosts engagement in their career, with positive benefits for the employee and the company.
Still don’t believe me? Buy Strengths Finder 2.0 and Strengths Based Leadership. There is a reason this book is used by managers, coaches, consultants and entrepreneurs to help understand themselves – and their people. Do the test with your colleagues, your boss, your team and your family. Use the results when considering a career change, a promotion or when dealing with a new manager or looking to make your team more productive. How does it work? I don’t know. Maybe hidden cameras and bugs? But, being Analytical with elements of intellection, I think it more likely some very smart psychology and years of Gallup expertise in this area. No matter what, they’re reading my mind…
About our guest contributor. Viv Woodley is an expert in marketing campaign & communications project management and measurement.