It is a unique challenge for a job candidate to speak openly and genuinely about what they’re good at. Sure, a resumé is a decent tool to share experiences and an interview is a great place to ask deeper questions, but it’s difficult to really get to the bottom of what actually motivates and drives people we’ve only just met. One of the first things we do when bringing someone new onto our team is we give them the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, and ask them to take the online assessment. This isn’t a self-help personality quiz, it’s a resource put together after interviewing 1.7 million professionals from various fields and distilling everything they learned about how people can be the best they can be in within a team in both their personal and professional lives.
By focusing on our strengths, we make ourselves the best we can be. By partnering with people that have complementing strengths, we can, as a team, have all the bases covered by the right people. You’ve seen this a lot with software startups: the common setup requires 3 people: somebody with a knack for design, somebody for development, and somebody for creating a cash flow positive business. You wouldn’t have the guy whose strength is design try to do the financials when somebody else on the team has that strength. Plus, our strengths are intrinsically motivating. Simply because we are good at something, we’ll be even faster at it, because we enjoy it.
Strengths is also about personal growth. The writers argue that focusing on our weaknesses might allow us to take something that we’re only 10% good at to become 20% good at it, while focusing on our strengths can allow us to take something we’re 150% good at to become 300% good at it. I can certainly agree; we’ve seen this in practice. I’m not particularly good with coming up with creative, new algorithms to replace inefficient old ones, and if I spend a week trying to devise a better big data reconciliation algorithm, I might make it 5% more efficient, when a solution that would make it 200% more efficient has already been engineered by someone who has this strength. However, I have a knack for design, and if I spend a week practicing new design techniques and trying to expand my repertoire, I’ll end up with a number of cool new resources which are ready to be published and used.
With Strengths, we learn a good bit about ourselves, but we learn even more about each other. We know how to work with each other, how to communicate more effectively, etc. One of our early developers had high analytical, so we knew in order to get him on board with a decision, he would need to hear all of our reasons leading into that decision and how the circumstances led to that decision. With Josh, who is high achiever, I know that he needs a well-maintained task list. He enjoys seeing what work needs to be done and checking it off. I don’t have the need for to-do lists, but I know he will. I also know not to rid him of the joy of checking something off of our shared lists on our whiteboards — there’s a certain sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes with that for achievers.
To make sure we always tap and balance each of our strengths, and to make sure we get to know everyone else’s, we each have a plaque on our desk with our top strengths listed on them. We don’t think we’d be where we are to today, both personally and as a company, without this use of Strengths and, we could not imagine moving our company into its next phase of growth without a culture rooted in Strengths.
Sound interesting? Join our team! We currently have two open positions.