Many decades ago, a man named Don Clifton asked a simple yet profound question: “What would happen if we studied what was right with people versus what’s wrong with people?” That question launched the creation of the CliftonStrengths Assessment, an assessment that’s since been completed by more than 25 million people around the world — including every Infinity team member. Learn more about the CliftonStrengths assessment and how it has helped take Infinity’s teamwork and productivity to the next level. If you’re not familiar with the CliftonStrengths assessment, keep reading! If you are, you can skip the next three sections to find out how CliftonStrengths has impacted Infinity’s teamwork, productivity, culture, and business.
The CliftonStrengths Assessment is a collection of 177 questions designed to help individuals discover and develop their greatest talents. Questions are presented as pairs of statements, where users choose the statement that best describes themselves.
These answers correlate to a list of 34 themes, or strengths, such as Adaptability and Empathy. These strengths are also categorized into four distinct domains— executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking. After the assessment is complete, users are given a detailed report of their results, with specific focus being given to the individual’s top five strengths.
Put simply, the CliftonStrengths program helps us understand ourselves. It gives us the tools we need to understand how we learn, communicate, process emotions, lead, and more. In other words, it gives us a better sense of awareness when it comes to ourselves. CliftonStrengths can help us answer questions like:
CliftonStrengths gives us the words and tools we need to recognize and understand the behaviors and thought processes that make each of us unique. The assessment also helps us understand how to shine our brightest and how we can best work with other people who might not share our strengths.
In the same way that CliftonStrengths helps us learn where we excel, the assessment also gives us insight into the strengths that appear at the bottom of our list. While the program is generally focused on each individual’s top five strengths and how to best leverage them in both work and life, having insight into our lesser strengths helps us better manage around those areas. By understanding our lesser strengths, we can intentionally partner with other team members who excel in those areas and develop more well-rounded teams to tackle complex challenges.
Oftentimes, strengths also come with something called a “shadow” that can dull their shine. For example, the Responsibility strength can drive someone to work hard, meet tight deadlines, and take on anything asked of them. However, this strength can also make an employee judge themselves harshly and lead them to burn out if too much is taken on. Seeing the full picture of our strengths allows us to lean into the best version of our talents while minimizing any downsides that might accompany them.
In 2018, we introduced the CliftonStrengths program into our vocabulary and culture, and we’ve never looked back. Our new hires take the assessment on their first day of work, and we’ve recently started offering it to our interns as part of their experience with us.
Today, our strengths show up everywhere. You’ll find them on word cloud posters throughout our office, in our email signatures, and even hanging on cubicle walls in the form of hand-made strengths flags. We talk about strengths in trainings, annual reviews, team-building activities, and on a dedicated Slack channel, where we can share ways our strengths have recently been excited or realized. The CliftonStrengths program has become a completely vital part of who we are, and it’s had a major impact on our business as a whole.
One of the reasons we put our strengths in our signatures was to increase awareness of what might be driving the person on the other end of that email. With a simple glance, we can ask ourselves questions like:
Knowing the lens that our colleagues view things through is a crucially important tool for directing and assisting our communication.
It’s also a vital consideration when putting together teams. As we decide which team members are right for which tasks, we might ask questions like:
Our diversity and variety of perspectives are what make our teams stronger and more successful.
When we introduced the CliftonStrengths program internally, we always knew it was a means to an end. As fun as it might be to examine what makes us tick, we were primarily interested in the real, quantifiable improvements that the CliftonStrengths program could bring to our agency.
For example, Gallup notes that they found strengths-based development leads to a 14-29% increase in profit, an 8-18% increase in overall performance, and a 7-23% higher rate of employee engagement. Our focus internally has specifically been on the performance and employee engagement aspects.
Since introducing this program in 2018, we’ve seen employees grow in their awareness of what makes them unique and how they can best contribute to their teams. As a result, we’ve seen individual performance improve across the board. Employees have expressed how their understanding of their own potential and capabilities has exploded since we introduced the strengths program.
Our turnover has decreased year over year since we introduced the program, and annual employee surveys have indicated growth in overall engagement. As Tom Rath said in the book, Strengths Finder 2.0, “the key to human development is building on who you already are.” We’re absolutely stunned at the growth and development we’ve already experienced, and we can’t wait to see how far our strengths can take us.
If you’re interested in learning more about the CliftonStrengths Assessment, head over to their website. If you’d like to explore using CliftonStrengths in your organization, please reach out to our team, and we’d be happy to discuss in greater detail!