Here's the Thing

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Strength Deployment Inventory

I was out all day yesterday - in training. All of the PAs (well, bar two, one of which was in Scotland... which is a wee bit of a commute, and the other ill) and me sat up in one of our meeting rooms for a whole day and had training on a thing called the Strength Deployment Inventory.

This, is basically a system that sorts you into a personality type based on what your personal strengths are when things are going well, and when they are not going well and how you can use them to over-come when things are not going so well.

My results were not surprising for me, I had a hunch what type I would turn out to be. That is a Blue-Green blend (Cautious-Supporting). Then, when in conflict, I slip fully into being much more Green (Cautious-Analytical).

What was revealing for me in the day, I think, was not finding out about myself - since, mostly it was stuff I already knew. It was discovering that the other PAs were mostly Blue (Altruistic-Nurturing), with one Hub (Flexible-Cohering) and that the idea of using your strengths to work with people who have other strengths is not the reality of the situation at all.

Instead, what the course expected people to do, was second guess the strengths of others and then steer your actions towards what suited them. What this means, is that as the other PAs are Blue's and the Hub can be seen as a potential Blue, my Analytical, formal and details driven style has to be put on the back-burner while I write in an in-formal, pleasant people focused style to them... even when I am trying to do my job, of asking them to meet a deadline, or format a document correctly and on time.

Oh, and I have been told not to do that as often... even though the reason I do, is that the deadlines are rarely ever met, so I remind them more often.

We did a whole section in the afternoon that just felt like an attack on my style of working. In effect, because everyone else already fit into the Blue Zone, I was the one expected to do all the work to please them, because the deadlines and structure and routine that make me comfortable and safe, and that I work with best, do not work with/for them. I instead have to be 'open-minded' and flexible, to be informal and step away from routine communications that are fairly straightforward to understand, because they need to be padded out with superfluous niceties.

There were a few pointers for them to work with me, but it felt like they were undercut by the discussion and this, by the end of the day, just re-affirmed everything I already knew: I love my job and I am good at what I do, I just do not fit with the other PAs. We are too different.

I took many good things away from the day. I just also took away that sour taste in the mouth that you get when you know you have hit a dead end.

I guess in many ways, I am fairly strong in the green sections of my personality. I am a bit socially-autistic. I have social-anxiety! When I was younger my communication was frequently attacked as stupid or I was told to shut up if I ever gushed over something. So I stopped doing it. I am an awkward communicator, the formal, standardised style suits me as I can do it without stepping away from what is needed, without having to do the whole informal thing that makes me squirm at the very thought. It is a learned response - and I have just been told that in order to work with others I have to unlearn it, and they don't have to lift a finger to try to unlearn the fact that they can not handle something formal.

I will stop ranting now, it isn't going anywhere. Just needed the grumble.


  1. Really interesting system... do you think it sums you up fully? I'm always a bit wary of these things that want to stick you in a band - though it's interesting that it recognises that you're different in conflict situations.

  2. I am not sure it takes everything into account. But realistically, nothing could in only 20 questions.

    I found what it did say was incredibly accurate and other people kind of 'clicked' why I am a certain way of said a certain thing earlier when they heard my result.

    I think it would be impossible to take all of someone into account, as everyone reacts to individual perceptions around them. This one was based very much on the individuals core values and how that may lead them to react in given situations.