How much can psy­cho­me­t­ric test­ing teach you about your ca­reer?


Marie Claire (South Africa) - - Contents -

I’m an em­path. This is some­thing I’m hy­per-aware of. I am very in tune with – and af­fected by – the emo­tions and moods of those around me. What I didn’t know, though, is that this is my num­ber-one lead­er­ship trait too – and that it’s ac­tu­ally a pos­i­tive char­ac­ter­is­tic to pos­sess.

How I dis­cov­ered that this is my main ‘theme’, as it’s re­ferred to, was through the CliftonStrengths® test, a psy­cho­me­t­ric as­sess­ment de­vel­oped to help peo­ple dis­cover their nat­u­ral ar­eas of mo­ti­va­tion and tal­ent. The test, de­vel­oped in the USA and lo­cally avail­able via Si­mon and Dee Hurry (hu­manstrat­, mea­sures an in­di­vid­ual’s unique rank­ing of 34 Sig­na­ture themes. Each theme rep­re­sents a core mo­ti­va­tional drive and as­so­ci­ated area of nat­u­ral tal­ent.

‘The­o­ret­i­cally, no two peo­ple have the same rank or­der for all 34 themes, which is what gen­er­ates our unique­ness, as it is the in­ter­re­la­tion­ship be­tween each of the Sig­na­ture themes and the im­por­tance we nat­u­rally at­tach to each of them that gives rise to a per­son’s ar­eas of tal­ent and be­hav­iour,’ says Dee.

Con­sist­ing of around 180 ques­tions, the as­sess­ment asks you to re­spond to hy­po­thet­i­cal sit­u­a­tions with ‘strongly de­scribes me’, ‘de­scribes me’ and ‘neu­tral’. For ex­am­ple, one of the ques­tions runs: ‘I am good at fig­ur­ing out how peo­ple who are very dif­fer­ent can work to­gether’ ver­sus ‘I have a gift for treat­ing dif­fer­ent peo­ple equally’. You se­lect the an­swer that best de­scribes you and the ex­trem­ity to which it does so.

‘Strength­sFin­der is an ex­tremely ac­cu­rate and ac­ces­si­ble tool to gen­er­ate de­tailed knowl­edge of who you are and why you do what you do. It pro­vides af­firm­ing in­sight into a per­son’s core na­ture,’ ex­plains Dee. ‘It’s ideal for any­one search­ing for in­sight into what they should be do­ing with their lives, how to be­come more pro­duc­tive, or for un­der­stand­ing how to re­late to peo­ple bet­ter.’

With close to 18.5 mil­lion peo­ple glob­ally hav­ing taken the as­sess­ment to date, it seems that know­ing your­self bet­ter is widely be­lieved to be the key to han­dling sit­u­a­tions more ef­fec­tively, both pro­fes­sion­ally and per­son­ally.

Fol­low­ing the on­line as­sess­ment, I sched­uled a one-on-one ses­sion with Dee to run through my top five ‘core’ strengths, and to dis­cuss what this means for me and how it can as­sist me in my day-to-day life.

The 34 Sig­na­ture themes all fall within four cat­e­gories: In­flu­enc­ing (which is about how one moves oth­ers and cre­ates ac­tion), Ex­e­cut­ing (pro­cesses and ‘get­ting the job done’), Strate­gic Think­ing (about the ‘why and how’ one pro­cesses in­for­ma­tion to make de­ci­sions), and Re­la­tion­ship Build­ing (how we form con­nec­tions with peo­ple). Four of my top five Sig­na­ture themes fall into ‘Re­la­tion­ship Build­ing’, with one in the ‘Ex­e­cut­ing’ quad­rant.

When I learnt that ‘Em­pa­thy’ was my num­ber-one trait, the first thing I blurted out to Dee was ‘Is that a bad thing?’

‘What would make you think that?’ she asked.

The irony was that my very ques­tion ce­mented the fact that the as­sess­ment was spot on. As an em­path and a re­la­tion­ship builder, I was con­cerned that per­haps this was a weak trait to pos­sess. I was hy­per-aware that I was be­ing ‘an­a­lysed’ (to a cer­tain de­gree) and felt like I had failed the ‘test’.

The truth is ac­tu­ally the con­trary. Ac­cord­ing to Dee, em­paths (and re­la­tion­ship builders as a whole) are of­ten over­looked in a team, but are im­per­a­tive as they are the ‘glue’ that holds em­ploy­ees to­gether.

‘The thing to re­mem­ber is that ev­ery­one pos­sesses all 34 themes, it’s just the in­ten­sity of each that varies, which is what de­fines your key strengths. The key point here is that you are who you are, it’s what you try to do with it, how you ap­ply and mas­ter who you are, that de­ter­mines our suc­cess.’

So how can in­di­vid­u­als use the re­sults to bet­ter them­selves in the work­place (and at home)? ‘The tool it­self and as­so­ci­ated re­ports pro­vide in­sight. The next step is where I come in,’ says Dee. ‘What

I do is help peo­ple ap­ply their re­sults to their given con­text. My clients range from pro­fes­sion­als want­ing a greater un­der­stand­ing of who they are and how they “work” in or­der to grow their achieve­ments and max­imise their po­ten­tial, to teenagers look­ing for in­sight into what they should be study­ing, and cou­ples want­ing to un­der­stand each other bet­ter. I take an in­di­vid­ual jour­ney with each client. The agenda or out­come is largely driven by the client’s needs. Es­sen­tially we get there when we get there.’

Fol­low­ing my con­sul­ta­tion with Dee, I took a few days to process the in­sights I was given and I was ac­tu­ally left feel­ing bet­ter about my­self, con­fi­dent in my top themes and val­i­dated. It’s not about point­ing out your weak­nesses, but rather iden­ti­fy­ing your strengths, and us­ing them to bet­ter the way you work and in­ter­act with oth­ers. And that’s re­ally im­proved my out­look. My next ses­sion with Dee is pend­ing – and I can’t wait to find out more about how I can use these find­ings to sharpen my skills, un­der­stand my lead­er­ship style, and ap­ply the find­ings in a tan­gi­ble way. mc


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