Sunday, June 11, 2017

Developer Strength

I've mentioned before that I got to take the Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment for free through a program at work, and I wrote a post about being a maximizer. I'd like to explore something else I learned about myself from the test, relating to my developer strength.

"Developer" was my 5th strength (out of 34), which surprised me a lot. A developer is someone who skilled at helping other people to develop their talents, someone who is good at training and teaching and mentoring. It's interesting because I really never saw myself that way until I took this test. I mean, I know that I have some of that quality, I enjoyed mentoring new students in high school, and my boss has told me that I'm good at training people at work, but I never would have imagined it being one of my top five strengths.

When I was in high school, I LOVED volunteering on orientation night for new students. One year I got to talk to students about a club that I was in, and senior year I actually gave tours of the school to incoming students and their families. I loved that. I felt so in my element. I also volunteered to have a middle-school student shadow me around the school, which was less exciting than I had imagined because my students wasn't really interested in being there (I think all the students were at our high school on a required field trip or something), but still, I always loved volunteering for stuff like that because I loved my high school and loved being able to help new students to have a better experience.

I had always imagined that I would continue with that sort of thing in college, giving tours of the school and having prospective students stay with me, but I never did. I completely lost that interest, and it hurt me to see everyone else doing that stuff knowing that I used to be like that but now I wasn't. I knew logically that it was because I didn't like the school itself, that I probably would still be interested in giving tours if I loved my school, but I really felt like and interest that I had lost. I recently got an email from my grad school (different school) asking if I wanted to be part of an alumni network where I could be a mentor to current students. In theory, it sounded fun. A part of me really wanted to sign up. But I didn't, because it was a business school and it's all about climbing the corporate ladder as high as you can. Most people who go to that school want career mentoring on how to be aggressive and get the best jobs they can and all the stuff that I'm not really interested in.

Seeing the developer strength show up in my top five made me realize that that interest is still in me. It's just gone dormant for a while because I haven't been in places that I wanted to promote, and I haven't been with people who have the kinds of goals that I'd like to help them develop. But I have that quality, and I want to use it more with the people I know. I already used it when I was writing the self-knowledge section of the validation book, where I coach people on how to achieve goals, learn how they work best, and make decisions that are right for them.

At my first performance review at work, my boss complimented me on being so supportive and welcoming to all the new people. I never stopped and thought about that, but when we suddenly had a bunch of new people join, it was really important to me that they felt welcome and understood what to do. I didn't have the best experience when I first started my job, I was in a less warm and friendly department, and so I wanted to make sure that no one else had that kind of experience, that I could make their experiences go as smoothly as possible. It felt like making my culture the kind of culture that I want to be a part of. I want to focus on that more, not just at work, but any time I'm in a situation where I can make it easier for newcomers to enter a group.

I also want to focus more on encouraging people to achieve their goals. One of the qualities of being a maximizer is that you not only focus on developing your own strengths, but you focus on developing other people's strengths. When you combine being a maximizer with being a developer, I could really help other people to develop their strengths! I've always known that I'm not one of those people who would say "Put away your video games and finish your homework," I would say, "Wow, you're great at that video game! Have you ever thought about designing your own video games?" I want to do that more in my interactions with people. I've already helped a friend get out of a bad job situation with a blog post I wrote, so I want to try to do more things like that. I'm getting my query letter together for my validation book, and once that's published, my self-knowledge section will help a lot more people to achieve their goals and develop their strengths.

Finally, one piece of advice that the Strengths Finder results gave me as a developer was to know when to quit, that I have a tendency to keep trying to develop someone to be good in a particular role, and I don't always know when it's time to say that that person just isn't best suited for that job and would be better off moving somewhere else. Now, I didn't think this applied to me very much. I'm normally the first person to say that it's okay if someone is not good at something, and to advise them that they might be happier doing something else. (Although I've never been in the position where it was my choice whether or not an employee could keep their job, so I don't know how difficult it would be for me to let someone go if they really couldn't do the job). But when my mom and I were looking at the results together, she pointed out to me that I *did* do this with some of my friends. Not with my current close friends, but with past people who were not treating me the way that I wanted to be treated. A few years ago, I wrote this post about the essential qualities that I look for in a friend or dating partner: http://yourownkindofmusic.blogspot.com/2014/10/relationship-and-close-friendship.html

I have held onto *a lot* of friends who did not treat me with validation and consent-consciousness, either because we had been friends for a long time, or because they treated me better than other people did, so I felt like I had no other choice. But I always held on thinking that there was hope, that I could get them to be validating and consent-conscious if I worked with them enough.  I mean, no one is 100% invalidating - even for the most invalidating people I know, I can think of individual times when they *did* validate someone's feelings or respect someone's choice not to do something, and I would focus on those things. I would tell myself, okay, I have seen this person be validating and consent-conscious, so I know they have those qualities in them somewhere, I just need to bring them out. I gave these people a lot of praise. I praised them for every single time I witnessed them being validating. But it wasn't just normal praise - it was positive reinforcement. It's like when you praise a child for brushing their teeth, not because it's a huge accomplishment, but because you want them to learn that brushing your teeth is a good thing so that they will continue to do it every day. I gave people over-the-top praise for every time that they were validating in the hopes that they would learn that that was important to me and start treating me with validation all the time. But it didn't work. And like the test said, maybe that was my developer quality coming out, maybe that was my tendency to try to train people and not step back and say that maybe they are just never going to be that way. Going forward, I want to make sure that I don't do this anymore, and that instead of praising people and hoping they will get the hint, I need to talk to people directly about what I am okay and not okay with.

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