Beyond the Assessment: So What? Now What?

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In our consulting practice, we use different assessments, two of which are Gallup’s CliftonStrengths® and Builder Profile 10.  It is not uncommon for a prospect or a client to really dial in on the aspect of an assessment. They want to know: “What will it tell me?” “What does the report look like?” “What will it show?”

While these are important questions for any assessment, the more important question is “How do I use the results to make a difference for me or for my business?”  In other words: So what? Now what?

Most assessments will provide you with a measurement – sometimes it’s a raw score and maybe a comparison to a benchmark, sometimes a ranking of intensity, or a description that elaborates on the meaning to you.  All of this is good information and serves well for self-reflection and self-awareness. However, that is just the first level of value. The greater value comes with how you take that information and aim it toward a business outcome, or in other words, your performance.  Let’s elaborate on the two assessment examples mentioned.

  1. CliftonStrengths® provides a better understanding of your innate talents – the natural way you think, feel, and behave every day.  The baseline assessment gives you a reading of your top five talents by measure of intensity. To turn it into action and drive performance, you must put it into the context of your goals. That is when it starts to more purposely and intentionally produce results. Consider this:

  • Coaching Example: Kate is an emerging leader with Responsibility in her top five. While this theme has served her well in taking personal ownership of tasks and projects, she is now being challenged to delegate more, let go, and facilitate others taking ownership.  As a part of her goals, she is shifting the focus of her Responsibility from actually owning the work itself to taking ownership of developing the others around her and equipping them to do the work by building competence, confidence, and trust in them.  By developing herself and others and continuing high quality and well-leveraged client service, she is using Responsibility to elevate her performance and become a more effective manager.

  1. Builder Profile 10 (BP10) is more narrow in scope than CliftonStrengths® and specifically identifies how you think about business (i.e, your entrepreneurial thinking) and those entrepreneurial talents you leverage in “building a business”.  For example, managers or owner-operators that are required to "build" (i.e. work “on” the business, grow profits, build client relationships, build people, manage the financials, and affect change) can gain critical insights for harnessing their skills.  BP10 helps you know how their most natural talents align with those outcomes.  It is most valuable when it is applied in the context of building the business or the practice.

  • Coaching Example: Tom is a new owner in a professional services firm where his primary responsibility is to grow a practice beyond himself in his area of technical expertise.  During a coaching conversation, he shared, “I’ve never seen myself as running or growing a business. My role has always been to serve clients and do it well using my knowledge and abilities.”  In taking the BP10, Tom discovered that two of his top entrepreneurial talents are Relationship and Delegation.  To date, he had been leveraging these talents with Clients directly and in working with two very junior staff. In considering goals for the growth of the practice, he pivoted and put together a plan for building a network of relationships that could help build the practice more intentionally.  He also identified what it would take for him to work more “on” the business to grow it vs. “in” the business as a technical guru. While he had the natural talents to Delegate, he wasn’t exercising them enough because he didn’t feel he could trust others with substantial pieces of the high-level work.  He put together a plan to build a stronger team with the goal of unlocking future growth.

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Taking assessments is like completing a personal health check – my weight is X, my blood pressure is X, and my cholesterol is X. Okay, so what? That is good data, but how is it is impacting my overall health and performance of my body, and does that matter to me?  Is it holding me back from doing what I want to do? Is it putting me at risk? Why do I care? To truly use the information effectively, I have to consider it in the context of my personal goals and decide, now what? What can I do with it to change, to improve, to be better, and/or to achieve my potential?

Other personal and/or work-related assessments are the same regardless of whether they are at the individual, team, or firm level. The assessment itself is useful for awareness. However, if you want to truly improve performance, use the data, and aim it at your goals, team goals, and/or firm goals.  Think about what the information means in the context of what you are trying to accomplish today, tomorrow, or within the next twelve months. Think about the “so what” and the “now what”, and most importantly, do something about it!