I’m a big fan of psychometric testing. I often encourage my clients to invest in some form of this testing when working with them on coaching, team building or talent management. If you’re not clear on what psychometric testing is, it’s essentially a standardized, scientific psychological test used to identify behavioral preferences, personality profiles and in some cases aptitudes or potential strengths. Keep in mind here that we’re dealing with preferences and behaviors which can adjust over time with awareness. (If you’re thinking about lumping IQ tests into this group, don’t bother. That kind of testing is designed to measure and score capacities which are unlikely to change over time.) There are hundreds of these testing systems on the market, but the ones that I have found the most practical for the widest application are DISC and MBTI. Although these two systems are probably the most popular, there are certainly others that have merit depending on your needs. One of the systems that I’ve used personally but haven’t certified in (yet) is Don Clifton’s Strengths Finder 2.0.
Strengths Finder is the flagship psychometric system offered by the world-renowned pollsters and analytics organization, Gallup. Like many systems, the process includes going online to complete a survey (testing tool) which then generates a variety of reports. If you want to make the minimum investment to get a taste of the system, you can purchase the Strengths Finder 2.0 book by Tom Rath, which includes a code for a free online test. The most basic test report will highlight your top 5 “strengths themes”. In addition, your report will provide some insights on how those strengths are defined, how you can become more aware of them, learn some ways in which you can apply these strengths to your daily life and see some examples of how they might manifest in other people.
The good news is that there is only one test to complete, and from there you can decide which reports you want purchase. If you have the budget and want to go “all-in”, you can purchase reports that rank all 34 possible strengths themes and include live follow-up sessions with a certified Strengths Finder coach. If you’re not sure you want to go that deep, for an investment of about $20 you can just buy the book which comes with an access code for the online test. Once you’ve completed the test you get access to a basic report on your top 5 strength themes and some additional online resources. If you are like me and find the process of self-discovery both interesting and rewarding, $20 for a book and test a pretty good bargain.
Psychometrics: Acceptance and Ethical Use
I’m going to let you know what my top 5 strength themes are but before I do that, let me give you a very brief disclaimer on psychometric testing. As an analyst and trainer for DISC and MBTI, I’ve seen hundreds of reports and debriefed hundreds of people. The scale of acceptance for these tests fall somewhere between “Who cares, my cousin says this is little more than a glorified horoscope.” to “Thank you so much. These results have changed my life.” While it’s always nice to see people excited about the prospect of learning more about themselves, some people just aren’t onboard with the idea of psychological testing. For those who would rather not be tested at all, there is often a fear that testing may result in “bad news”, career limiting outcomes or worse, establish grounds for dismissal. For those of us who’ve been working with these programs for years, it’s easy to see where you are coming from. The good news is that those negative outcomes are the boogeymen of psychometric testing. While it’s technically possible that these things could happen, it would be due to the unscrupulous actions of the person reviewing the report. If you’ve got people in your organization leveraging these tools for the purposes of tearing people down instead of building people up, trust me, you’ve got bigger problems. As a rule, I never provide the results of testing to anyone other than the recipient and never share those results without permission. Also, the reports generated by these systems shouldn’t be viewed as gospel. The real opportunity for development is when you pair the participant with a knowledgeable analyst or coach for a debrief and discussion. Do yourself a favor, make sure you’re using the test outcomes to improve personal and professional achievements, not beat yourself up.
Out of interest, I’ve listed the top 5 strength themes from my personal report below. For those of you are unfamiliar with the StrengthFinders 2.0 system, your response might be, “so what?”. The StrengthFinders 2.0 book and web resources can provide a lot more context, so I will resist the temptation to publish too much info here. I would encourage you to complete your own assessment or at the very least, look online to see what others have to say about the system.
Top 5 Strength Themes for David Johnston
People who are especially talented in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.
People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
People who are especially talented in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential in others. They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from these improvements.
So, tell me, what are your top 5 strength themes?