Clifton StrengthFinder 2.0 – introduction and my personal assessment


Posted by Steven

Since recently, my employer msg DAVID is using the Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0 to improve the personal development of each employee and also promote better cooperation in teams. In this article, I publish my personal test results and comment on them. This post serves as a retrospective for myself and as a reference for my colleagues so that they can learn how and why I do things the way I do.

What is the Clifton StrengthFinder 2.0?

The Clifton StrengthsFinder is an assessment to determine the five positive aspects which are especially well developed within an individual. Examples of these strengths (also called “themes”) are communication, self-assurance or harmony. According to the Clifton system, the already existing, positive attributes of a person should be developed and strengthened. Other systems promote getting rid of negative weaknesses instead. However, this would use up much energy and is not efficient.

The system also encourages communication of the assessment results within teams and companies to build upon individual strengths. Therefore, templates and digital dashboards are provided. Also, for each strength there is a short description, including action items and what to look out for.

My assessment results

Here are my five strength, including some commentary.

Focus

Strongly focused people need direction they can align their daily actions to. If this focus is not provided, work can become frustrating. To avoid negative feelings, many goals are set and worked upon.

I was not surprised at all that the assessment results in Focus being my number one strength. Ever since I can remember, I set myself goals and straightly worked towards them, ignoring everything else. Every single word written on the website about focus fits me like a glove.

Achiever

Achiever need a constant flow of successfully finished tasks, each day. Regardless if it’s a working day, weekend or holiday. A day without something “done” is source of great discomfort.

Since years I have the habit of talking negatively about weekends and holidays. For me, they disrupt the mentioned chain of success I very much appreciate every single day. I resolved this by simply ignoring public holidays and weekends and working when I feel the urge to. Which is most of the time. But it works great for me. ;)

Especially interesting is the mentioning of burnout. Once an achiever has learned how to use the good effects of getting things done, he can do so without burning out. I can also identify with this. Although I need some time off, I tend to continue to work even when others need breaks or R&R.

Noteworthy, the first action item states to find a job / environment, in which an achiever has the freedom to act out his urges to accomplish. I’m lucky I found a place where I get this degree of freedom.

Relator

Relators tend to be around their close peer group in which they develop deep relationships and reveal their goals and thoughts.

Getting this as my third strength surprised me very much. I very, very seldom invited colleagues to private events or even in my home. More friendships have developed outside of the workplace than from within. Because of my focus on working issues, I tend to talking more about “work” than about private matters. All this seems to contradict the result of the assessment. However, as a coworker mentioned, this could be a kind of hidden strength that can be developed in the future.

I’m not entirely sure how to deal with this strength. However, one of the mentioned details are pretty much correct: letting me down when I ask for help will cause damage to the relationship.

Futuristic

Futuristic people constantly map the present reality plus the things that could be into a possible, better future. They can create visions in great detail and describe them with passion to others.

The linked description for the “futuristic theme” begins with the words “Wouldn’t it be great if …”, which are often used by futuristic people – and by me. In fact, a possible better future motivated me enough to hold on to bad situations more than once in my life. Hence, the futuristic aspect of the assessment fully applies to me.

Learner

The learner is interested in gathering knowledge determined by his interests. He also wants to know the underlying concepts of the process of learning itself.

Before taking the Clifton assessment, I never really thought about my interest in learning. Instead, I took it pretty much for granted for a person in my professional role(s). Maybe that is the reason why I like being a tech lead so much. It’s the perfect position for learning and teaching what I learned. Teaching is actually one of the suggested action items for learners.

Assessment and Application

Four of the five themes determined by the assessment fit perfectly to my behavior and preferences. Hence, the system works pretty well. Also, it’s nicely organized with a fancy online assessment, the (physical) book, websites with detailed information about the themes and also supporting Youtube videos.

I see two approaches in how to apply the results of the assessment in a business environment.

First, the results reflect personal, individual strengths that promise to be a great starting point for personal development. Ever wondered if to take the soft skill workshop or visit a deeply technical conference? This assessment sure can help you decide.

Secondly, I see application in shortening the storming phase of new teams. If a new team is formed or additional members join an existing team, it could be very helpful to know the strengths of everyone. Because of the detailed information provided by the Clifton system it should be pretty easy for everyone to figure out the best way to work together.

Next Steps

I will share my assessment results with my current software development team to provide one more way to be understood. Additionally, I ask every team member for their test results to understand them better.

TL;DR

The Clifton StrengthFinder test determines the five strengths of a person and provides detailed information about how to boost performance based on these strengths.

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