First 5 Steps after taking the Gallup StrengthsFinder (or CliftonStrengths) Test
If you’ve taken the Gallup CliftonStrengths (formerly known as StrengthsFinder) Assessment, you might be wondering: “OK, I’ve got my Reports. Now, what should I do?” That’s a great question. This tool offers incredible depth and insight to your power, edge, and what differentiates you (in good, constructive ways), but unfortunately, most people don’t really get past taking the test and just reading their results.
In this article, I discuss the first five steps you should take for getting the most out of your CliftonStrengths results.
I encounter and hear about so many people who took the test because it was something they had to do for school, work, or as part of a group activity. They take the test, they see their results, and that’s it! Nothing else happens.
Now, if you’re taking the assessment as part of a group, ideally that group is providing some context – maybe some tools, activities, or some training to really help you connect your results to your everyday life. However, I know that’s not always the case. So, let’s talk about what you should do as first steps after getting your results.
Whether you’ve just now taken CliftonStrengths for the first time, you’re re-taking it, or even if you took the test a while ago, this is a good opportunity to refresh your approach and really focus on what you can do to get the most out of your results.
I've also created a video of the content in this article. Here's the video version for those who prefer that format:
Time: 9:51 minutes
1. Mark up your Reports
Study your CliftonStrengths reports. Don’t just read them. Devour them. Now, I don’t know if you have your Top 5, Top 10, or the Full 34 Results. Each option provides different types of information.
Especially look at your Insight Guide or the Strengths Insight Statements in your fuller reports. Those statements are unique to you based on how you responded to all the questions in the Assessment.
For example, two people who both have Significance in their Top Talent Themes will both have different Insight Statements in the section describing their Significance Talent Theme. Those Insight Statements take into consideration how each person’s other Talent Theme results mix with Significance and influence how Significance shows up for each of those two people.
These reports are all about you, so take in as much information as you can about yourself. Sometimes an outside source can reveal terms, phrases, observations that you would’ve never realized about yourself.
Go through your reports in detail. Circle words or phrases that really describe you. Underline statements that you’re not sure about so you can discuss them with someone else. Highlight terms that you want to keep in mind. Whatever your system is, mark these reports up.
Take in and really ponder what these new insights reveal about you.
- What are you learning about yourself?
- How does this new information impact how you see and feel about yourself?
- What will you do differently now that you have this new information?
2. Keep your Results Top of Mind
Understanding and using CliftonStrengths is not a one-and-done type of activity. It’s a powerful and insightful tool, but it does nothing for you if you toss the reports to the side. Out of sight; out of mind.
Create something that will keep your Top 5 or your Top 10 Results Top of Mind for you. Here are some suggestions:
- Add them to your device’s lock screen (such as your phone or tablet).
- Make them the wallpaper on your laptop.
- Keep them on a post-it in a highly visible place.
- Make a card you can keep visible in your wallet.
I’ve had clients and students create index cards or print their list to post them in a frequently seen location.
Ultimately, you want frequent reminders to keep you referring back to your CliftonStrengths results - especially at first until it becomes second nature to you.
3. Learn more about CliftonStrengths (and How you can use your Results)
As I mentioned earlier, if you took the test as part of school, work, or a group activity, hopefully they gave you some resources and training. But even if they didn’t, there are so many resources out there now that you can take it upon yourself to go further on your own.
Read up, watch videos, take a class, or work with someone (like a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach) to deepen your understanding of CliftonStrengths and your specific results. It’s not a light tool. You’re going to really want to understand:
- your results,
- what you can do with them, and
- how to use them.
And, everyone learns differently. Some folks like to read, study, and spend time with their thoughts. Others like audio or video. And others (like me), prefer interacting with others to really soak concepts in.
The more engaged you are with your learning (in your own style), the more you’re going to get out of this.
To get you started, I invite you back to my YouTube channel where I have a variety of videos covering introductory topics, and that library will continue to grow over time.
For starters, I recommend these two videos:
- What is Gallup StrengthsFinder? / What is CliftonStrengths?
Time: 6:54 minutes
- The 6 Most Common Mistakes People Makes about CliftonStrengths
Time: 14:50 minutes
If you decide you want to commit to really exploring your CliftonStrengths Results, how they’re impacting you, and how you can intentionally direct your Talents and Strengths, I invite you to check out the Services pages of my website. There you can see what services I offer - including workshops, coaching, or taking my independent CliftonStrengths-based online course.
The key to learning anything well and being able to successfully apply it is: Repetition. It’s not enough to learn about CliftonStrengths and keep your results top of mind. You really need to internalize how your results are showing up and impacting you day-to-day.
As you go about your day, what connections can you make back to your CliftonStrengths Results?
Think about the people in your life.
- How do you interact with them?
- What do you talk about?
When you think about how you go about doing your work, are you focused on:
- the end result?
- the process in which it’s getting done?
- the strategy in doing the work?
- where the work is leading?
- who’s being impacted by the work being done?
Each of these sample thoughts are about getting work done, but the thought process behind each one is very different.
What about your decisions? Was the criteria for the decisions you made impacted by your CliftonStrengths Talent Themes?
Think about the people you disagreed with or judged today? Is it possible that they’re looking at the same events, activities, and tasks through different Talent Themes (or different CliftonStrengths Results) than you?
There are so many angles to look at. Get in the habit of looking at why you do what you do in the ways you do it. Start understanding the patterns of how your CliftonStrengths Results impact your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors throughout your day.
What observations are you making? Take note early on. The better you understand yourself and your patterns, the better position you’ll be in to make intentional shifts as you continue deeper into your CliftonStrengths-based work.
5. Focus on What and How you Contribute
Because we’re keeping this list to the first few things to do after getting your results, I’ll end with telling you to: Focus on what you bring to the table. Meaning: Focus on what you bring to the people, places, and events in your life.
- Do you bring calm?
- Do you inspire confidence?
- Do you promote growth?
- Do you roll your sleeves up and help get things done?
Most people are focused on what they lack, what their Weaknesses are, or where they think they’re not enough. The first priority is in understanding:
- Who you are
- What tools you bring
- How you can make a difference
Your Top 5 CliftonStrengths Results identify you as 1 in 33.4 Million. Combine that with your specific interests, desires, experiences, and beliefs, and there is no one else like you.
No one else sees the world as you do. Understanding what your unique edge is and intentionally directing that is where your power lies. Let CliftonStrengths help you discover and own what that is.
Am I saying to ignore your Weaknesses or Blind Spots? No, but they’re not the priority and they can be addressed (and managed) later as you get further down your CliftonStrengths journey.
You have plenty to focus on for now. Take the time to focus on your Talents, Strengths, and what you positively contribute to the people, places, and activities in your life.