You do your best work when you focus on what you're naturally good at.
This may seem obvious, but if you're like a lot of people who focus on fixing their weaknesses, it can be an eye opener.
Spending your life trying to fix your weaknesses won't get you far. Gallup research shows that your greatest potential for excellence lies in strengthening what you naturally do best and doing more of it.
Still, there are things you don't do well, and they can get in your way. So should you try and fix your weaknesses, or should you just ignore them?
The CliftonStrengths assessment reveals your strengths, and many people already know their top five. But few have discovered the power of their full CliftonStrengths 34 profile.
That's why Gallup is making it easier than ever to purchase your full CliftonStrengths 34 profile with the new lower price of $49.99 (or upgrade from your Top 5 to your full 34 for $39.99).
Individuals, managers and teams can now maximize their full infinite potential and better understand who they are and who they aren't with CliftonStrengths 34.
In the following conversation, Gallup's Chief Scientist of Strengths-Based Development, Jim Asplund, explains the most effective way to approach your strengths and weaknesses with the CliftonStrengths assessment.
Gallup: Why the change in focus from top five to the whole CliftonStrengths 34?
Asplund: When we first launched CliftonStrengths about 20 years ago, it was really the first of its kind. There wasn't a real focus on the positive end of the scale before -- an assessment that focused on helping people develop their strengths.
Don Clifton and others decided that five was a good number to give people to work on. And it worked very well, so we figured, why rock the boat? If it's not broken, don't fix it.
But we've learned, kind of clinically, over the years that people are ready for more information than we've been giving them. There's simply an appetite for all 34 as well as a need for more feedback. But our philosophy, in terms of how to approach your development, hasn't changed at all. We still think you should focus on your strengths and learn to manage around the things that are not your strengths.
There's research on neuroplasticity that shows you can change, you can develop, you can develop new talents as you age, but it's slow. We've always believed, and the research has supported the fact that, you're going to get more return on your investment working where you have talent, but it's important and helpful to know your areas of lesser talent -- the areas you don't naturally shine in.
Being aware of those is good. And you might want to establish a consistent way to manage them and be conscious of your blind spots.
Gallup: Blind spots?
Asplund: If you're really high in Consistency, for example, you might focus so much on keeping steps uniform that you lose sight of the overall goal. And that's helpful knowledge to have, which is why we're expanding our information delivery around how to manage your strengths as well as your weaknesses this year. We can make it easier for people to do all the things we've always said they should do with the new language and content.
This doesn't just apply to you and how you see yourself. It applies to how others see you too. So why not be open with that instead of making people guess? Instead of having people apply their own filters to you -- to what they perceive you are? We've seen this time and again, right? When you give just basic strengths information to people, they understand something about you that they didn't understand before.
People are much more likely to see you and other members of your team as you see yourselves. This increases feelings of belonging and uniqueness, which are key to building inclusive, diverse teams. In fact, employees who say their organization is committed to building the strengths of each associate report much lower incidents of discrimination and harassment. So there are very real benefits to using strengths language in the workplace every day.
Gallup: Are you designing the new reports and resources to make it easier for people to use your research?
Asplund: Yeah, and the materials we are working on are superior to what we've been doing before (and they will be available this fall to anyone who's purchased their full 34). To be perfectly candid, in my opinion, we'll be giving them more information in addition to better information with the ancillary learning materials, videos, events and other things that we're building.
You know, people learn differently now than they did even 10 years ago because the delivery vehicles are so different. People are just much more prone to a self-service model now. But we've seen the value of expanding the way we teach so we're investing in it.
Gallup: How can you use CliftonStrengths with teams?
Asplund: Well, we've done research there, and we're going to be doing a lot more. But what we've seen is after people -- individually and on a team level -- learn and have time to develop their talents into strengths, their performance goes up. Their self-efficacy, their feelings about their ability to accomplish things, it goes up and translates into performance.
When you can say, "This is me and I should be doing this, but I should maybe not be doing that," you save an awful lot of time and stress. And that knowledge is more impactful now than ever because the nature of teams is changing. Pop-up teams, remote workers, project teams where you work closely with people for a month, then not see them again for five years -- that's how work gets done now.
Having this information on your team's strengths real early on definitely helps people understand their expectations better, which is the very best jumping off point to engagement and, therefore, productivity.
Gallup: What should you do if your manager only wants to concentrate on the CliftonStrengths at the bottom of your results?
Asplund: Well, it's tough. It certainly happens, though it's a lot less common than it used to be. I think the best thing you can do is to ask, "What do you need me to do and what is expected of me on my job?" Then, if you've got a good enough relationship, take the initiative to show how your strengths -- not your weaknesses -- help you do your best work.
You can resolve some misperceptions and maybe guide your own management if you reorient around strengths. Sometimes it's hard. People generalize in ways that aren't always helpful, so give them more information. And it might take you a while; you might have to kind of chip away at it. It's not as easy as that for a lot of people. I wish it were.
Gallup: So focusing on your top five is still important and probably more so if you have a manager who doesn't focus on it?
Asplund: They are still important. It's still the first thing you're going to focus on when you get your results. It's still going to be highlighted in the information you get. And the top five is enough for a lot of people, at least in the beginning.
But for others, there's more that they want to do, more that they could do. We still say start with the top five. People just gain more when they build on talents than when they make comparable efforts to improve their areas of weakness.
You can improve on weaker areas, but it takes a lot more work, and you're not going to improve as much. Of course we tend to be more attuned to negative feedback than positive feedback. But positive feedback -- giving people their strengths, recognizing strengths in action, building them into habits -- makes strengths more and more powerful over time.
So start with strengths; start with your top five. Then learn your whole 34 to build awareness around where you might need to manage weaknesses so that you have the full picture.
Just do it in the right order.
Discover the best ways to develop your strengths and manage your weaknesses today:
Jim Asplund is Chief Scientist of Gallup's Strengths-Based Development. He is coauthor of Human Sigma: Managing the Employee-Customer Encounter, which serves as a guide for leaders and managers who want to dramatically increase productivity, retain high-value customers and enhance organizational performance.
As Chief Scientist of Strengths-Based Development, Jim leads Gallup's worldwide research on the science of human strengths and the effect of strengths development. He directs all research on Gallup's CliftonStrengths assessment, which has helped millions of people discover what they do best, increase their personal effectiveness and improve their organization's performance.
As a founder and director of Gallup's Advanced Design and Analytics Practice, Jim consults with clients on data-driven solutions to employee, customer and performance problems. He leads complex analytical projects, including the design of predictive models, and he has written hundreds of research studies and articles for many business, nonprofit and government organizations.