Disclaimer: I am a personality test junkie. Ever since I first stumbled upon my first personality test, I have found excitement and belonging in taking these and learning my results. There is something powerful in learning about yourself, reading the way someone describes you as if they have known you forever, and finding others who you can relate to. There is something additionally powerful about the ability to learn about those around you, empowering you to better understand and relate to them.
Picture this… you’re at the office and Judy hasn’t finished her work yet, Bill is 2 weeks ahead, Linda won’t stop talking during the meeting, while Joe says very little. All four individuals leave the office at the end of the day feeling somewhat frustrated with one another for different reasons. What is under the surface of the office experience above? It is deeper than employees just doing too much or too little.
Enter StrengthsFinder (newly renamed CliftonStrengths). The purpose of this test is to reveal how you naturally think, feel, and behave. This test will reveal your rank order of the 34 CliftonStrengths. These 34 strengths are broken into 4 key domains, which you can read more about here. According to their website, this test explains “how you are uniquely powerful”. In fact, the chances of someone else having the same group of strengths in their Top 5 as you do is roughly one in 275,000. And the chance of another person with the same exact Top 5 order as yours (they are listed in order of intensity for you) is one in 33.4 million.
Do you feel unique yet? And do you feel your head spin when you think about how different you and your colleague are yet? I think you are starting to get the picture. But let me break it down a bit further. Here are three reasons StrengthsFinder/CliftonStrengths can benefit your team.
This test allows you to learn your strengths, and rather than pigeonholing you into your personality, it teaches you what you do well. This is so you can continue to work into your strengths. But it also teaches you where your colleagues and loved ones function best.
- Know where you function best.
Have you ever felt discouraged when comparing yourself to others? Wondering why you can’t be as talented as they are at _____ activity? There is an innate reason you are different! When you learn your strengths, you can focus on what you are good at rather than what you don’t do well. You can understand it’s possible to function outside of your strengths, but that when you do so, you may feel friction or unease. When you function within your strengths, it will feel natural and enjoyable. For example, if you have Achiever in your Top 5 (like I do) you will love the idea of getting something done each day. Productivity gives you a great deal of satisfaction; lists and calendars excite you. Gallup explains that, “You feel as if each day starts at zero. By the day’s end you must achieve something tangible to feel good about yourself. And by “every day” you mean every single day — workdays, weekends, and vacations.” I function best when I feel that I can be the most productive and get the most amount of work done.
- Know where others function best-
Do you sometimes feel frustrated when your coworker doesn’t do their job in the way that you would? When you think about work frustrations in terms of the StrengthsFinder, it can help you better understand your coworkers. For example, if Joe has Futuristic in his Top 5, he will be focused on growing the company to a future goal. If I have Believer in my Top 5, Joe will need me to really believe in his mission and goals before I will be an effective and very involved team member. Though this difference in strengths may cause tension initially, it can also allow us to see each other in a new light. I can come to value Joe’s goal setting and ambition, while he can appreciate my passion for believing in our purpose. Together, Joe can set future goals for us to work towards, while I can help our team become emotionally invested in them.
- Work together-
Knowing what each of you are naturally good at can make teamwork that much easier and more effective. If I function the best when I am productive and accomplishing things (Achiever), I can keep the team moving forward in that direction. However, I may also overlook a relational piece in my efforts to achieve and accomplish. On the flip side, if Includer is in your Top 5, you will make sure everyone feels valued and heard. Your approach may slow down the work process and cause us to veer off of my to-do list, while you encourage others to get involved. Do you see how we would balance each other? This becomes even more effective, the more people who are included on a team, as each of us brings something new to the table.
There are many personality tests that can help us learn more about ourselves and others. CliftonStrengths is unique in that it really encourages us to find where we and others naturally function well. It doesn’t tell us that we cannot function in other areas, just that doing so won’t feel as effortless. In addition, it can really help us understand each other better, function more efficiently as a team, and grow together relationally.
**BONUS: These strengths will benefit you in your relationships outside of work too. Spoiler alert: my husband does not have Achiever in his Top 5. So when I want to get seven things done on a Saturday morning, and he wants to relax, it can cause some tension. 🤣