Creating a development plan is essential to help you gain the skills you need to reach all your goals! Having a plan will also give you a road map for moving forward and accountability.
Your plan can be as detailed or as easy as you want it to be. It’s your plan so find something that fits in with your lifestyle and will be interesting to you.
One interesting way to create a development plan is through using Clifton StrengthsFinder. This online assessment provides you a personalized set of results that focuses on what you naturally do best. Having these results allows you to lean into your strengths to accomplish your goals.
In this post, I will share how to use the Strengths Finder Assessment to create a development plan and how it will help you decide on what areas to focus on.
What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?
Recently I had a conversation with a mentor that made me stop and evaluate my life and career. I believe everyone should have one of these! We were going over my strengths and weaknesses and when I shared mine, I was reminded that what I listed were not really strengths. My weaknesses weren’t up to par either. I felt exposed at that moment. It was embarrassing to feel so unprepared.
I began to think after this experience. If someone like me, who thinks about this stuff regularly, could be caught up by this, what about those that don’t think about it? If this is you, don’t worry, that’s why this post has been so important for us to release!
What came out of that conversation as a good next step was taking the Strengths Finder Assessment. If you are not familiar with Strengths Finder, it is a timed online assessment that presents you with 177 descriptors to help you discover which of the 34 strength categories you best align with.
As I went through the definitions of my strengths and the exercises that come with the assessment, I also discovered weak areas in each strength category that I could work on. For example, one of my strengths is harmony. With trying to remain harmonious, I am also prone to getting involved with things that stretch my time too thin. I had to stop being a “yes” person. Realizing this helped me see where I needed to do some clean up in my life and I was able to do this immediately.
What Your Strengths Results Mean
The first, and really fun part of the Top 5 assessment is reading what strengths the assessment gave you. I really felt like mine were spot on with this assessment. A couple of them were areas that I hadn’t considered talking about either.
It was nice to have it all wrapped into 5 concise words for the next time this question pops up!
My strengths are harmony, achiever, analytical, focus and deliberative.
There is a book that you can purchase that goes with the assessment and includes the description of each strength. I did everything on the website, and they provided me the descriptions when I received the results.
Last year I did the scary thing of creating an anonymous survey to send out to friends and coworkers to help me discover what my strengths are.
I found that after going through this assessment, the comments I received in the survey aligned well with what my survey participants commented on. This helped me start to understand how I am portrayed by other people.
Everyone’s Least Favorite Part – Weaknesses!
Is this anyone else’s least favorite question to answer? It’s always a tough one! If you’re prepared with a response you like though, you will feel so different the next time this question comes up!
When I was going through the assessment results, I was able to find weaknesses within every one of my strengths.
For example, having harmony as a strength bothered me so much in the beginning! I hated it because the first thing that came to my mind is that I am a pushover. My next thought after that was, how can I be a good leader if I am seeking harmony in a situation?
I figured out though that being able to seek a consensus or being open to all possibilities are positive qualities to have. Changing my position and being agreeable to avoid a conflict is not a positive quality to have.
When I thought about how I interact in different situations, I realized that there are times that I will not say what is really on my mind depending on who is around or depending on the read I get from the room. This is not a quality that I wanted to have.
Go through and read your strength definitions very carefully. Think of how you interact and react in multiple situations – at work, volunteer activities, with friends, with family, at home and more. You will be able to identify situations that feel right for improvement in your life.
I found one weakness to work on for every strength category but do what feels right for you, so it doesn’t become an insurmountable task.
Another important piece of this part is to remember that even though I’m throwing around the word “weakness”, I really mean “opportunity”. This is how I chose to start looking at it a short while ago. Every situation can be improved on our time and the bad situations can lead us to something better.
Making the Improvements
When it comes to finding the right development opportunity to work on your weakness(s), find the best fit for you.
Sticking on the strength of harmony, when it came to searching for development opportunities, I found so many.
I want to share some ideas with you, so you know where to look.
Through my employer, I was able to find trainings on the topic of conflict resolution through virtual trainings and online books.
I was also able to find an in-person training held by a community organization. Look at non-profit organizations who train leaders or offer community education. This option was low cost and held during convenient times if you’re looking for something in the evenings or weekends.
I looked for trainings on LinkedIn. If you upgrade to the premium paid version, you have access to online training courses. You can get a free trial and the trainings are available, so if you are deciding whether this option would be for you, give it a try.
Depending on what type of developing opportunity you are searching for, you could also seek out a mentorship opportunity to get guidance. A community college or professional organizations that offers community education could also be a great option for growing your skills.
Figure out what your schedule, budget and needs are and find opportunities that match what you’re looking for.
The Game Plan
It’s time to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, so the next time you’re asked, you have an answer you are proud of sharing.
Finding out your strengths through the CliftonStrengths assessment, you will be able to identify possible weaknesses (opportunities!). Come up with as many improvement areas as you feel comfortable tackling in any specific time period and set out to creating the life that you want to live.
Creating a development plan is helpful when it fits your time, budget and needs, so look for development opportunities that fit all those areas. When the plan is made by you, for you, it will be more achievable and will not become another difficult task later on.
Share in the comments, if you’ve taken this assessment or any others and how it helped (or didn’t) shape your work or personal life. We’d love to know what you thought. Share this post with a friend so they can get started on creating their plan today!