Recently, I participated in the StandOut strengths assessment for a workshop at work. The test had several situational questions and based on my answers the test revealed my top 2 strength roles. The reveals were pleasantly surprising and on checking with my colleagues, the test seemed to have revealed something about me that I myself had not realized.
Further interested in this test, I picked up the book StandOut 2.0 written by Marcus Buckingham, the creator of this test. The basic idea of the book is that to perform well at work, we need to know our strengths, build on those strengths and manage around our weaknesses. This is in contrast to how typical performance reviews identify areas of improvement and focus on turning those into strengths.
The author has a lot of experience in the field of performance management with several books like this to his name. Based on 0.5 million performance management tests on employees of various organizations he identified 9 strength roles: advisor, connector, creator, equalizer, influencer, pioneer, provider, stimulator and teacher. The test was created to have questions whose answers could lead to the discovery of top 2 such roles for a person. Every test question is a situational judgement test (SJT) which is a slightly-stressful situational question and our top-of-the-mind response to it. What was interesting was that all the 4 answers for each question were equally good. But there is also a 30 second time limit, so essentially the test forces you to choose the answer that goes along with your character.
Once you identify your top 2 roles, you can refer to the detailed sections in the book on each of these roles. For each role, it provides detailed description of the role, how to make an impact in the team, improve performance, pitfalls to watch out for and how to apply the strength in leadership/management/sales/clients.
Your strengths are how you come across to your colleagues. So the identified roles can sometimes be surprising (like it was to me) that this is how I am perceived by others. I felt the test was eye-opening and I can definitely recommend spending the time to try this test. The test report is quite detailed and most of the worth of the book can be obtained in that report itself.
The book itself is short and easy to read, which cannot be said for most management books. However, there is little value it adds on top of the test report. The book also further feeds into the author’s personal learning channel and a strengths-based performance system, neither of which I am interested to check out at this moment.