The Highlands Company Blog

Natural Abilities in Real Life: Navigate Your Ability to Solve Problems

problems at work

In a special blog post series here on the Highlands blog, we are digging into the categories of natural abilities measured in the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB). Recently, we looked at Personal Style, and here we talk about the first of five Driving Abilities.

But first, what are driving abilities, you ask? 

Your Driving Abilities create a “push” in activity. When using the Driving Abilities you are hardwired to do well, work can feel effortless. You may wonder why everyone can’t do what you do. If you are working in areas outside of your Driving Abilities , you can feel drained, frustrated, and stressed.

Understanding the Classification Driving Ability

Now that you understand what Driving Abilities are in general, let’s look at the first of five Driving Abilities: Classification.

Classification is basically how you solve problems diagnostically. This is your natural ability to work with complex information in a fast-paced, on-the-spot situation and reply with the “right” answers. Someone who scores high on the Classification continuum prefers a fast-paced and chaotic work environment with few parameters for finding a solution, while someone who scores low on the continuum prefers a moderately-paced environment that requires patience and developing long-term workable resolutions.

Classification In Real Life

These folks probably score high in Classification.

  • Litigators that must be able to adjust their approach or argument on the spot
  • Emergency room doctors who make diagnoses based on limited bits of information and a handful of symptoms
  • Sound engineers recording live performance

All of these professionals must assimilate and respond to a large amount of information on the spot. They quickly see and assess the pros and cons of a situation and are compelled to provide an answer or solution.

As an example, let’s look at the events surrounding a recent board of education decision (based on true events). The board decides it’s a good idea to have a 9th grade academy that helps the transition of students from middle school to high school. The board charges the superintendent to develop a plan.

If the administrator is strong in classification, her reply to the request is likely something like, “Of course! I will get you a plan in the next five days outlining the location, the number of students, the number of teachers, the curriculum, and the budget. This is going to be fun!”

If she is not strong in Classification, the reply is likely to be, “Before I get started, I’d like to ask some questions. Where will it be located? How many students are we anticipating? How many teachers can I count on? Is there a budget I need to work within?”

If you score low on the Classification continuum, you likely prefer to use direct experience to determine a resolution. If you lack experience, you place a high premium on input from those who have direct experience with the issue.

Examples of professions that are appealing to low Classification folks include

  • Counselors who must gain the trust of clients
  • Managers who develop staff
  • Executives who make strategic organizational decisions
  • Financial advisors or lawyers who plan estates

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

low classification natural abilityPeople at opposite ends of the Classification continuum often feel frustrated with one another. After all, those at the high-end experience a drive to solve and move on to the next issue, and quickly! Slowing down to answer questions feels like there is “drag” on the momentum.

Those at the low end can feel pressure to make quick decisions about issues they’ve never experienced and the pressure is even worse when they are provided very little structure to work within. They think, “why rush to reach a conclusion that is not well-thought out, allowing details to slip through the cracks and cause additional work to clean things up?”

high classification natural abilityIn healthy working relationships, people at opposing ends of the Classification continuum learn the benefits of working with their complement – the person at the other end. Those high in Classification learn when to seek out their counterpart to help them understand details of a quick-to-arrive-at solution. Those low in Classification learn when to seek out the input of their counterparts to help them sift through options more quickly – they can be great shortcuts!