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I've Found My Strengths! Now What?

by Vol-E

It's that time of year again! Co-workers coming together in large groups to network, brainstorm about strategy, escape the humdrum work routine, and gorge on catered food. Somewhere in there, someone is bound to foist upon them the latest, trendiest "assessment tool" from the fiendish minds of over-educated people with nothing better to do but try to justify their outrageous consulting fees.

So far, over the last couple of years, I've experienced the delights of numerous such tools. I often wonder, rather nervously, who is looking at the results and what they are using them for. An abridged list:

The DiSC Profile. DiSC stands for Dominant, Influencing, Stable, and Conscientious. Dominant and Influencing types love to brag about their scores. Steve Jobs (or perhaps Donald Trump) is a great example of a high D or I. They have ideas, they come storming into the office, shake hands vigorously enough to dislocate wrists and shoulders, ask questions but only bother to listen to half the answer, and then proceed to the CEO's inner sanctum to talk loudly, back-slap and mesmerize a new generation with their ideas of what everyone else is doing wrong, and why everyone should listen to what they are doing right. Or, as the saying goes, if you can't dazzle them with brains, baffle them with BS.

You may have guessed, I'm not a D or an I, but have had the great, ahem, good fortune to work with many. Yes, I'm a solid C/S combination. "Perfectionist," "Objective Thinker" and "Creative" are the sub-types that apply to me. We're the quiet ones who keep our heads about us and insist on saying things like "Don't you want to read the fine print?"

Everywhere I look, someone is hawking a DiSC profile or something similar.  DiSC is a licensed tool, and not everyone can legally use it, so they will basically give you the measure but then change the terminology, all the while saying "This is so much better than the DiSC because..."

A close older cousin to the DiSC is the Myers-Briggs. If you've ever heard someone describe themselves as an "INTJ" or an "ESFP," it's a sure sign they have taken the Myers-Briggs. If they describe themselves as ESPN, it means they spend too much time in front of the TV, eating 5-layer bean dip. There are 16 Myers-Briggs combinations, based on whether you're introverted or extroverted, sensing or intuitive, thinking or feeling, perceiving or judging. Numerous websites offer some variation at no charge, so if you've thus far managed to escape getting Myers-Briggsed, there's a nice cold pitcher of Kool-aid waiting for you just a few mouse-clicks away.

Then there's the Enneagram. This is my favorite so far. Nearly every one of these measures I've taken has slotted me into the wimpiest possible categories. If I am to believe my test results, it is a wonder I can get up the nerve to swing my feet out of bed and commence the day. Most measures show me as a gentle, diplomatic, cautious, retiring, invisible peacemaker who likes to simply get a job done and avoid the limelight. You know... a Hufflepuff.  But the Enneagram seems to have pegged me as a type 1 -- sometimes called the Perfectionist, but also the Improver. Everything I see has the potential to be tweaked, changed, and made just a little bit better. The Enneagram "gets" me, so that's the one I'd most enthusiastically recommend.

The latest craze at my company is the Gallup Strengthsfinder 2.0. You buy this overpriced little book, carefully cut open an envelope that's bound into it, extract a multi-character code, plug the code in at their website, answer a bunch of questions and it will tell you your strengths. The theory is that everyone is extremely good at something, or comfortable and confident doing it, so that is the area that employers should focus on. So if you were hired as an accountant but come out with one of the more extroverted strengths profiles, your boss should immediately put you on the sales force, sit back and wait for spectacular results. Sure. Whatever. What I've seen more of is something very similar to what happens when people take the DiSC profile -- the outgoing, dominant folks crow about how wonderful they are and the quieter types just get a little quieter.

I am waiting to see what type of career change I will be offered based on my strengths. So far, it looks like I am cut out to be a shrink or a minister. Well, we do offer tuition reimbursement, so tomorrow I'll check out the local seminaries.

I scored high in Individualization (I like to figure people out); Input (I like to collect and archive all kinds of information); Connectedness (I believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason ... but I have yet to figure out the reason for Donald Trump, or 5-layer bean dip); Intellection (I am introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions); and Responsibility (you can guilt-trip me into anything). In the group that took this test recently, not one other person got even a low score in Intellection, and that is why I am lonely and have no one to share those stimulating intellectual discussions with. A few colleagues registered Connectedness and Individualization, and several got Responsibility, which I suspect is just a way to score points with the boss and keep the Security department off their backs.

Personally, I rely on a measure that dates back a few thousand years: Astrology.  Enneagram type 1, Myers-Briggs INTJ, and Stable/Conscientious all add up to the same thing: Libra with Capricorn rising and the Moon in Scorpio. And my birth certificate doesn't lie. So there. Now where's my raise?


Been there many times too.

Also, every couple of years we take surveys administered by Accenture, McKinsey, and some others, all for naught.

Senior management gives lip service to this stuff but actually practice "Do what I say, not as I do."

Anonymous said…
I saw a comment on the web that Trump studied at the Kim Kardashian school - How to use outrageous behavior to market yourself to fame and fortune when you have no talent.

Vol-E said…
Everyone has strengths, even Kim Kardashian. She's blessed with the ability to piss people off, even while they buy her merchandise.

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