strengths

Color Coding Employees and How it Makes Handing Out Assignments Easier

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Most employers are very familiar with DISC, Myers-Briggs, and StrengthsFinder analysis testing. We at Portfolio Creative use the book “StrengthsFinder” by Tom Rath when we hire new associates. It has helped us understand people as soon as they step through our doors, as well as see where they are going to be effective on the team.

We also use a much simpler analysis that anyone can do and it is a quick read of anyone on your team, not to mention, yourself. It is called the Color Code Personality Science test and you can test yourself and your entire team for FREE here.

We love it because we can quickly understand each other, know how to respond to each other, and get the best results from each other. (Alliances may have been formed.)

Everyone is broken down into 4 simple color groups based on what is their most dominant color but every one contains some of everything, the definitions that follow that are in quotes are taken from the Color Code Personality Science website:

RED - “Red are the power wielders. Power: the ability to move from point A to point B and get things done, is what motivates and drives these people. They bring great gifts of vision and leadership and generally are responsible, decisive, proactive and assertive.” We need the RED personalities on our team. These people are the “get it done” people, just get out of their way. They like direct, short conversations and you won’t see them again until the task is completed. On time. The rest of the team knows that these three will hold them accountable to complete jobs on time, too. 

BLUE - “Blue are the do-gooders. Intimacy: connecting, creating quality relationships and having purpose, is what motivates and drives these people. They bring great gifts of quality and service and are generally loyal, sincere, and thoughtful.” We have a whole bunch of BLUE people here and considering what we do, this is great news. We deal with people and create relationships through great service. The BLUE people make it so people will keep coming back to use us.

WHITE - “White are the peacekeepers. Peace: the ability to stay calm and balanced even in the midst of conflict, is what motivates and drives these people. They bring great gifts of clarity and tolerance and are generally kind, adaptable, and good-listeners.” Need some conflict resolution? Send in the people in whose dominant color is WHITE. They see all sides of an argument, rarely get combative, they just want to see everyone get along. Typically, everyone gets along with these people. 

YELLOW - “Yellow are the fun lovers. Fun: the joy of living life in the moment, is what motivates and drives these people. They bring great gifts of enthusiasm and optimism and are generally charismatic, spontaneous, and sociable.” While you may think a YELLOW coded person could be a distraction, there really is nothing better to keep a team motivated. They can keep everyone upbeat, focused, and really help everyone see the joy in the job. Every team needs at least one cheerleader.

I am sure that you are wondering my results. I am: 
RED 44%, BLUE 42%, WHITE 9%, and YELLOW 4%. 

What this says about me is that I am driven, but I appreciate people and relationship. On the backend of that, I don’t have a lot of tolerance nor do I need to create fun moments. (Work over fun has always been a gift and curse for me.) How do I feel about that? GREAT! Because this is me and I know where I thrive and everything else...well, I have a great team to help me out with that.

 

Leadership Strengths: Finding Your Highest and Best Use

By Kristen Harris

In real estate, there's a concept called "highest and best use." When appraising a piece of vacant land or property, under this concept the value must be based on the most reasonable, probable, and legal use that is physically possible appropriately supported and financially feasible. For example, if a property is currently an industrial site but would have more value when redeveloped with residential buildings, that higher use is how the property value is determined. (With apologies to real estate experts–I know there are many factors that must be considered, making it more complex than this simple explanation.)

Have you ever thought about your own highest and best use? Are you being appraised and utilized at your top potential value? One way to think about this is to know your strengths and look for opportunities to use them in your work. If you're a leader or manager of others there is also tremendous value in knowing how to leverage the strengths of your team members.

The CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthsFinder) philosophy is one of the key tools we use at Portfolio Creative to better understand new team members and each other. If you want to know more about this tool, check out our previous article Be Your Best: Using Your Strengths at Work

Once our new team member has taken the assessment and we know their strengths, what do we do with that information? One thing we look at is how their strengths fall into the Four Domains of Leadership Strength. According to Gallup's research, each strength sorts into one of four domains: Strategic Thinking, Executing, Influencing and Relationship Building. 

These domains equate to how you absorb and analyze information or situations, make things happen, influence others, or build and nurture relationships. Every strength fits into one of these categories, and there is no good or bad category (remember, they are all strengths.) 

Knowing which categories a person's strengths fall into provides a clearer view of their overall balance. For example, three of my five top strengths fall under Relationship Building, one is under Strategic Thinking, and one is Influencing. By contrast, my business partner Catherine Lang-Cline has two strengths under Strategic Thinking, two in Executing, and one in Relationship Building. See how we complement each other? I'm strong where she is not, and vice versa. Together we're better. Now apply that to a whole team of people and you can see the power of this concept. 

Some people are heavily weighted in one or two categories (we have one person with four of their top five strengths in the Strategic Thinking category.) Others are more evenly spread across the categories, with top strengths in three or even all four categories. It doesn't matter how the strengths break down, but it's helpful to know if someone is heavily weighted in one or two categories or more evenly balanced.

Once you understand how individual strengths are categorized, you can also apply the concept to a whole team. We look at strengths categories for the entire Portfolio Creative team, and by each departmental team. Our team leaders can see the strengths of each individual on their team, their team's overall strengths, and gaps, and the strengths found on other teams.

Here a few ways we can utilize this information. If we're working on something that requires a lot of Strategic Thinking, we can reference our chart and pull together the people heavy in those strengths. A team leader can look at how the strengths of their team members are spread across the four categories, see where they are heavy and light, and pair up team members or put people in positions that best use everyone's abilities. Across the company, we can see where strengths fall, and pair up individuals or entire teams to complement each other. 

By understanding and leveraging the individual strengths of yourself and others on your team, everyone has the opportunity to work at their highest and best use. 

Be Your Best: Using Strengths at Work

By Kristen Harris 

At Portfolio Creative we welcome every new hire for our internal team with a copy of the book StrengthsFinder 2.0. We ask them to take the assessment and share their results. Why? Because StrengthsFinder is one of the key tools we use to better understand ourselves and each other.

 StrengthsFinder is built on the philosophy that we each have inherent strengths. They're part of our DNA, we can't change them, it's just who we are. The result of a lifetime of research, Don Clifton identified thirty-four unique talents. Everyone has a bit of each, but the top five are truly our unique combination of skills, talent, and knowledge that can develop into strengths. 

Why does this matter? Gallup's research shows that people are more successful when they focus on what they do best. Seems kind of obvious, right? You're happier, do better work and are more productive when you're doing something you're good at. The challenge is to identify those talents and then focus on developing them into strengths. 

We also like how StrengthsFinder takes a very positive approach. Many personality assessments identify strengths and weaknesses, then encourage you to work on improving the weaknesses. While that might seem logical, what's the best possible outcome? You'll probably only improve that weakness enough to be marginal or average. Who wants that? It's much more empowering to be great!

We prefer to have people focus on their strengths, on what they're already inherently good at, and keep building upon that base. It's much more rewarding to take something that is good and make it great; to take something you're already good at and become the best. 

Yes, everyone has to overcome their weaknesses enough to not get in the way or hold them back, but that's it. We don't want anyone our team spending significant time in areas where they'll never be great. It's more productive to keep building strengths, then partner with others who have different strengths. Remember, there are thirty-four strengths and everyone has a combination that makes up their top five. That means there's someone else out there with a different top five to complement yours. 

If you’re not familiar with StrengthsFinder, I encourage you to check out the book or online materials. It is truly empowering to discover, build and utilize your strengths. By focusing the majority of your energy on things you're naturally good at, you are able to bring your best every day to whatever you do.

Your Career: Five Common Job Search Mistakes

By Kristen Harris

Looking for work might seem like a fairly straightforward process but, in fact, it’s quite complex.

There are several steps, a series of interactions, and multiple people involved in your search. Each stage of the process is filled with nuance and details. One false move can take you out of the running, and you may not even know it. The job search process is challenging and stressful enough without putting barriers in your own way.

Check yourself...are you making any of these five common job search mistakes? Be honest, or ask someone you trust for feedback. Sometimes we’re so close to a problem that it’s hard to have perspective. Once you’re aware of an issue, it’s much easier to correct and avoid that mistake in the future.

  1. A mismatch between your skills and the role. It’s important to really know yourself. What are your strengths? Skills? Experience level? Interests? What stage are you at in your career? What you do you want from your next role? Once you’re clear on these things for yourself, then compare your answers to every role in which you’re interested. Do your strengths and skills align with what the company needs? Are you at the right career stage for the role? Does it align with what you want, personally and professionally? Do you like the company? Are you interested in what they do? No job is perfect, but if there is a significant mismatch in several areas, move on to the next opportunity. This is not “the one”.

  2. Cookie-cutter communications. We live in a customized world; don’t send the same message to every contact or in response to every job opportunity. Customize your resume to highlight the exact skills and experiences the company is looking for. Highlight how you’re a great fit for that specific role and company in your cover letter or introductory email. Technology means every communication can be specialized to the recipient, yet people rarely receive truly personalized messages. Make the person on the other end feel as though you’re speaking directly to them and their needs.

  3. Typos in your resume. Typos and bad grammar reflect poorly on you and your work. Resume reviewers will immediately make judgments, and often it’s a shortcut to the trash bin. Not everyone is a great writer or speller, I get it. But, even if you are, find someone to proofread everything for you–your brain often fills in the gaps, it’s easier for someone else to find your mistakes.

  4. Not being prepared for the interview. As an interviewer, there are few things more painful than trying to connect with someone who is clearly not prepared for your conversation. Research the company before your interview (actually, before you apply, otherwise, how do you know you want to work there?). You’ll know what to wear (if you’re still not sure, ask the person scheduling the interview), and you can ask about something they’re working on or a project that was recently announced. Have questions prepared; this is a two-way conversation, and you need to know if it’s a good fit for you too. Be interested and engaged, do your part to make it a good conversation.

  5. Not using your network. Go beyond searching job boards, it’s important to utilize your network. Start with people you already know, personally and professionally, in your community or school, through alumni associations or industry groups. Connect with people online through platforms like LinkedIn. Attend events where people in your industry would be, catch up with people you know and ask them to introduce you to someone new. Then follow the cardinal rule of giving before asking. Even though you want someone’s help, first ask what you can do to help them. By giving first, you’ll establish trust and truly build a relationship; people are much more likely to help or recommend people they know and trust.

Whether looking for your first job, next job, or dream job, eliminating these five mistakes will help you get out of the way of your own success.