By Lisa Sansom
June 8, 2011
By Lisa Sansom -
It recently came to my attention, through a friend’s Facebook update, that Marcus Buckingham has produced a new strengths assessment. There are, as the positive psychology community knows, several strengths assessments out there.
One of the original assessments is the VIA Survey, created by Chris Peterson who scanned time and space to find the strengths that were most valued historically and cross-culturally. Their final list encompasses 24 strengths, and versions are available for children and youth. The VIA has been taken by over 1.3 million times by people around the world. A VIA report will give you insight into your ability to access all 24 strengths.
Another early strengths assessment is the Clifton StrengthsFinder from Gallup. StrengthsFinder has been updated over the years to reflect trends in business and application. It has been taken by millions of people who have either purchased a book or a code, and it provides information about relative strengths of 34 talents themes. Gallup researchers, notably Donald Clifton, Marcus Buckingham, and Tom Rath, created the list of talents based on studies of human behavior in organizations that occurred over 40 years. A StrengthsFinder report will give you insight into your top 5 talent themes that become strengths when you bring them into play in the real world.
More recently, the Realise2 has come onto the scene. Realise2 was developed by the Centre for Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP) in the United Kingdom. Where previous strengths assessments were based on the assumption that all you needed to do was know and build on your strengths. Realise2 is more nuanced and provides insight not just into your realized strengths, but also into your learned behaviours (those strengths that you can use well but do not energize you), your unrealized strengths and (gasp!) your weaknesses.
And so now we see StandOut from The Marcus Buckingham Company.
StandOut is positioned as both an individual and team assessment. It is clearly business-focused, as the report has sections to help you build on your strengths in leadership, management, customer service, sales, and forming your ideal career. The slogan is “Find your edge. Win at work.” This assessment promises to help you stand out in your professional work environment. As the website says, the purpose of the strengths assessment is not to affirm, but rather “to help you accelerate your performance and contribution.”
The assessment costs $15.00 US online. It takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. Once you log in, create an account and process your credit card payment information, you are presented with a series of timed multiple choice questions. Questions include workplace issues, work-life balance decisions, ethical choices, and etiquette. Of course, with only four options to most questions, it can be hard to find the selection that fits you best. No matter – make your choice and move on, because the clock is a-ticking!
What do you learn from it?
Your final report is available immediately and you can download the pdf and use the interactive version online. There are a total of nine strength roles, and you do get your complete role ranking, although the focus is on the top two.
Your top role is highlighted for you in gold, and the report not only defines the term, but also explains when you are at your most powerful, how you would describe yourself, how to make an immediate impact, how to take this to the next level, and what to watch out for in this role if you over-use this strength. Your secondary role is highlighted in silver, and includes all of the same information.
Then, the assessment shows what happens when you combine your top two roles. The early studies and research into strengths has been largely siloed – how do we label and define strengths separately and what are the implications of individual top strengths. There has not been much work into strengths constellations (as Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener call them) or how strengths work together. StandOut is starting to take a step forward in this direction.
By combining your top two roles, you access a new report that explains how your strengths interact and what your comparative advantage is in the work world. This report goes into detail about how to build your ideal career, as well as how you could win as a leader, manager, or in client services or sales.
StandOut offers next steps – you can deliver this assessment to an entire team, you can join the online community, you can purchase the Strengths Essentials workshop in a box, and you can purchase TMBC executive coaching.
Where did StandOut come from?
The website alludes to the notion that the roles were gleaned from closely correlated themes, using the StrengthsFinder language. Apparently, in the Clifton / Gallup research, there are certain clusters of talents that are statistically distinguishable, but naturally closely correlated. Marcus Buckingham, in his very applied way, took the top 9 clusters of correlations and created these StandOut roles. Each role is measured using 14 questions, and the limited time per question ensures top-of-mind responses. Quoting its website, StandOut was created to provide solutions for 3 pressing questions:
” 1. How can managers become better performance coaches?
2. How can employees take responsibility for their own performance and development?
3. How can you accelerate the uptake of best practices in your organization?”
I enjoyed taking this assessment a great deal. I have taken each of the strengths assessments that I mentioned above, some more than once. What StandOut did for me was to showcase my strengths in very practical and applicable ways. There were no surprises – my top two strength roles are Advisor and Teacher, and when I combine them, the report says, “You’re the Ultimate Consultant,” which, apart from being a great ego boost, is also aligned with my chosen professional direction. Score! My top strength roles also aligned with top strengths from other assessments, such as Relator and Learner from Gallup, Love of Learning from VIA, and Explainer and Connector from Realise2.
This assessment would clearly appeal to people looking for a workplace application, something that other strengths assessments have shied away from so far. Career coaches would probably have a great time administering this assessment to their clients, and it would likely be a strong tool for team-building and awareness. Like any other assessment, it’s a starting point only, but it seems like a pretty solid one.
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