Friday, September 14, 2007

Strengths and Boxes

Recently I have been working on applying for some jobs - both full-time and contract work, as my business is struggling to keep afloat. The other day I received a request from a staffing company working one of the jobs I had applied for. They wanted me to complete something called the Predictive Index. It is one of the tools they use to assess job candidates to try to figure out whether they would be a good fit. You can find out more about the Predictive Index at the PI Worldwide web site. I found only some sparse criticism of the "test" alleging it was not developed by the "proper" people, had not been independently tested for reliability, and some other minor nits (imo).

A little more interesting to me were a couple posts (Don't put me in a box and More info on the Predictive Index)I found on The Head Fake blog. The writer described his experience with the Predictive Index and its use in the job search process. Overall, I would tend to agree with some of his points. Using it early in the process as a screening tool doesn't seem quite right.

Unfortunately, it sounds like I may never know the results of the PI. On the other hand, I recently ran across something call the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment. The book is actually a bestseller right now and is a follow-up to another bestseller, Now, Discover Your Strengths. The books are from the Gallup organization and are predicated on the idea that we should find our strengths and focus on developing them rather than trying to fix our weaknesses.

I actually completed the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment the day before I did the PI. Below are the results of the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment and my take on them. (Note: the "results" are expressed as your top five "strengths" which the assessment describes in the book. There are 34 possible "strengths")

Learner - according to this, I thrive on dynamic work with short project assignments and I am good at learning a lot in a short period of time. Learners enjoy the process of learning and soaking up new skills, knowledge, etc. As such, they make good consultants. Not scared of the "new" - in fact, they relish it. Overall, I would say this is very accurate with regard to me.

Strategic - these people are good at sorting through clutter and complexity and finding patterns and the "best route" Because we are always running "what if's" in our head, we are good at anticipating the future and potential problems. With this capability, we tend to make good leaders. We have an innovative, yet procedural approach that is especially useful in new environments/challenges. We can help prevent groups from developing tunnel vision. Again - I'd say this is pretty much spot on.

Achiever - these people have lots of drive and always want to accomplish something. Interestingly enough, this is not done for the recognition - it is just the sense of accomplishment that we enjoy. These people should look for jobs that let them work as hard as they want to as they are very driven, self-motivated and can get things done. One pitfall for them is they are apt to find meetings boring, but that can be combated by working to keep the meeting focused, productive and efficient. Once again, I would say this is pretty accurate.

Deliberate - these individuals tend to be careful, vigilant, and can easily sense risks. They are also very private, reserved individuals with a fairly serious approach to life. They like to plan ahead. They do not see life as a popularity contest. They have naturally good judgment and thus can provide good counsel and advice because they can often see factors that others don't. From a personality type perspective, this seems to be pretty accurate as I am a very reserved person. Of course, some people I've worked with in the past noted that even though I don't say much, when I do speak up, folks better listen. Interestingly enough, one of the notes about the Deliberate strength is that they are not someone who embraces change immediately. That seems to be in direct contradiction to the Learner and Strategic strengths noted above. So I think there may be a little trouble in reconciling this with the other strengths. I have to guess the questions that might have revealed this dimension picked up on my personality much more than what I think or how I pursue action. Kind of makes me wonder how much this might be masking the other strengths as this is probably the area most people "see" and thus judge me on (at least initially).

Self-assurance - these people are described as "Able" - able to take risks, able to meet new challenges, able to stake claims, and able to deliver. We have unique, distinct perspectives about the world, we are not intimidated by others or the "crowd", and no one can tell us what to think. Unfortunately, others can perceive this as stubbornness and an unwillingness to listen. It is suggested we look for start-up positions where no rulebooks exist and function best when asked to make many decisions. Likewise, positions where you are convincing others of your point of view. I had to do that a lot in my government positions. Interestingly, that also feeds into sales positions, even though I don't feel like sales (in the traditional sense) is one of my strengths. We are able to inspire confidence in others, serve as the calm in the middle of a storm, and hard work with long hours comes naturally to us. Our independent streak can leave us standing alone and we don't mind pursuing what others see as impracticable or even impossible. The book suggests these people should try to partner with people strong in Strategic, Deliberative or Futuristic (which I noted I possess two of those - what kind of synergy does that suggest just within me?).

Overall, I thought the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment was accurate. The Deliberative really seems to be the only strength that I think is somewhat suspect. And overall, it does seem to suggest to me that I am on the right path of pursuing consultative, project management, leadership, or entrepreneurial roles. Perhaps the one caveat is that I have not read through the rest of the book to compare those strengths with what mine are. For example, I did read the info on the Futurist and I think it could easily apply to me. So there may be others.

One thing that may be interesting to do is to compare these results with some of the other assessments I've taken. I think I'll write a separate entry regarding those other tools and how I've scored on them.

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