Analytical: Searching for Cause and Effect

A CliftonStrengths Theme Spotlight

"People exceptionally talented in the Analytical theme search for reasons and causes. They have the ability to think about all of the factors that might affect a situation." -The Gallup Organization

When we talk with groups of people about their talent themes, we always get lots of good questions. People want to know more about specific themes, strategies for developing them into strengths, or ideas for using them to work around weaknesses.

And we love ALL the questions! Questions mean people are curious and invested, and it is a joy to get to teach others about the ways they bring unique value to their teams and workplaces.

The kinds of questions we ask also reveal information about us. For example, sometimes we get questions that reflect distinct patterns of analytical thinking:

"Why were the questions structured that way?"

"Why are there 34 themes?"

"How was the assessment created?"

"Is self-report data really that accurate, though?"

These are good questions! We love to unpack these kinds of questions with others because great strategies, approaches, theories, or plans should withstand even the toughest investigations.

In fact, some of the most influential people in my life have been people who made me think harder and longer than I would have on my own. These were people who encouraged me to search for root causes and make strategic decisions in light of the facts. They were people who pushed me to build better arguments and make informed conclusions.

They were analytical people.

The Talents of People High in Analytical

Those high in the Analytical theme are logical, precise, and thorough in their approach to almost everything. They are comfortable with large amounts of data and will take the time necessary to make sense of a complex situation. Some people look at complicated charts, graphs and data and feel overwhelmed or uninterested. Those high in Analytical feel energized. In fact, they are at their best when given ample time to think things through and consider all the variables that might be at play.

They are also prone to ask a lot of questions to get to the bottom of whatever they are working on at the moment:

  • "What would happen if we tweaked this?"

  • "When did we notice this decrease?"

  • "How do we maintain this growth?"

  • "Who has the best closing rate, and why?"

  • "What is the average across the quarter versus across the year?"

They are marked by their curiosity.

And typically, they remain curious throughout all stages of a project. Whether it's brainstorming, idea generation, decision-making, implementation, maintenance, debriefing, or evaluating, an individual high in Analytical will search for cause and effect, interesting relationships between variables, and attempt to forecast based on the objective facts.

When working on a team, an individual high in Analytical brings the ability to help others understand, plan, and execute in a methodical manner. Because they are motivated to investigate and uncover causal links or relationships between variables or factors, they provide a wealth of insight to those who struggle to make those connections themselves. They will point out inconsistencies and make connections that others don't have the eyes to see.

An individual high in Analytical also has a tendency to keep his/her team members honest. While others might be ready to act when it "feels right," someone high in Analytical expects that actions are rooted in the facts and the data. They want the research to inform decision-making. In fact, their presence can keep a team from making a decision that isn't warranted.

A few years ago I had a teaching assistant with an Analytical theme. He was always asking me questions about the curriculum and my teaching methods. One day he said:

"If you had to estimate, what percentage of your teaching philosophy is based on course evaluation scores or assessment data, and what percentage is based on your gut or your personal preferences?"

We laughed together after he asked this, because even the question itself was a hint into his natural patterns of thinking. He was an excellent TA because he was always looking to the data to inform the decisions he made in the classroom. His students appreciated his conscientiousness and they could always be sure that he was well-researched and well-prepared. He made me better, too, because he wasn't going to be satisfied with the "because I said so" answers I might be tempted to use from time to time.

The Temptations for People High in Analytical

Because they are driven to uncover or understand root causes based on all the relevant variables or factors, those high in Analytical can sometimes be perceived as critical, picky, or never satisfied with the answer. They want to get to the truth and apply it logically, but sometimes they can ask too many questions and stifle discussion or creativity when working in a group. And at times, their persistence to question can result in them demanding more evidence than in possible in a given situation. This can sometimes result in them being slower to act when it's important to get the ball rolling.

Those high in Analytical have the ability to sort through emotional factors and draw conclusions from the facts of a situation. While this dispassionate thinking can be valuable, especially in times of transition or crisis, it can hinder the emotional climate of a team or a workplace. If the person doesn't learn to communicate effectively about his/her Analytical theme, others might begin to perceive him/her as rude, cold, or emotionally distant.

Those high in Analytical can also be tempted to ignore the emotional factors affecting a situation, or downplay the importance of feelings in the workplace. If they don't have any other dominant Relationship Building themes, they might lack the natural ability to sense tension, conflict, or negative emotions that could negatively impact a project or team.

Analyze Yourself, Analytical One

Here are a couple of quick ideas to get you thinking about how to leverage and self-regulate if you've got a dominant Analytical theme:

  1. Reflect on the 3-5 most successful projects or teams you've ever been a part of, and do some digging. Are there any common factors that led to the success? Any patterns in your behavior that contributed to you or your team achieving the goal? Now ask the same questions about the 3-5 least successful projects or teams you've been a part of, and see if you can isolate any commonalities in those less positive experiences.

  2. When evaluating a situation or preparing to make a decision, make sure you consider the emotional or relational factors at play. If you don't feel equipped to assess those factors on your own, ask a trusted colleague who is high in Relationship Building themes such as Harmony, Empathy, or Individualization for help.

  3. While working with others, make sure you communicate the "why" behind your questions. When you express your desire to uncover cause and effect relationships and make decisions based on reason and evidence, your colleagues, managers, and followers will see your probing questions as crucial to the success of the team.

At ROI Talent Development, we try to help people fall in love with every single talent theme, even if it isn't dominant in their own theme sequence. Because when we all take the time to understand and appreciate one another, we build happy and healthy workplaces where employee talents are valued and developed.

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