BOOK REVIEW: StandOut 2.0: Assess Your Strengths. Find Your Edge. Win at Work by Marcus Buckingham. Harvard Business Review Press. 211 Pages. 2015
I’m a big Marcus Buckingham fan, having read all of his books, with the exception of the one he specifically wrote for women. Eight years ago, when on the leadership team for a professional learning organization we brought him to our community as a part of his book tour for Go Put Your Strengths to Work, one of the most impactful business books I have read. He briefly revisits his “Love it/Loathe it” exercise from that book here, an exercise I continue to use both on and off the job.
Buckingham writes that although the strengths-based approach to managing people is now conventional wisdom, performance appraisal systems remain “stubbornly remedial”. In this new book, Buckingham has taken his StandOut strengths assessment (introduced in 2011) and dramatically increased its power.
A few of the enhancements are:
- To make our strengths visible, he has designed a StandOut Snapshot that can be used to present the very best of ourselves to our teams and organizations.
- To give us a way to keep learning, he has provided us with our own personal learning channel.
- The StandOut assessment has been made to be a “front door” to an online performance system that is entirely strengths based. He wants us to think of StandOut as a toolbox, in which each tool is designed to tackle one aspect of performance management. To help us do more of our best work, the reader will receive a weekly “Check-In” tool that will capture our weekly priorities and track how engaged you feel week by week.
- Leaders will find an employee survey tool that can be used to see what your team is thinking and feeling, as well as a performance tool to evaluate the performance of each member.
The above enhancements are designed to help you and your teams to leverage your strengths and manage around your weaknesses. The new tool is not just a descriptive tool but also a prescriptive tool. The StandOut assessment measures you on nine strengths roles and reveals your top two “strength roles”. The book provides you with a key to input and take the assessment, which will take about fifteen minutes. Your results will reveal how you come across to others. Buckingham shares with the reader three lessons for building your strengths. He calls the StandOut assessment an innovation delivery system. It delivers to those who complete the assessment weekly practical innovations, tips and techniques that you can use to sharpen your edge and win at work. I plan to share my assessment with team members and mentees and encourage them to take it as well.