The five driving abilities measured by the Highlands Ability Battery are very powerful. Whether a person tests high or low, these abilities directly impact job performance and satisfaction. If any one of these abilities is high, it requires itself to find an outlet. While there are five Driving Abilities, most jobs only call on one or two so people that test high in many of these abilities need to find outlets for them in other areas of their life.

If you’re currently experiencing stress in your life, it may well be one of the Driving Abilities letting you know it’s not being addressed.

Classification involves non-linear, non-logical problem solving. The Highlands Company defines classification as: “the ability to take many factors onto account simultaneously in coming up with a solution to a presented problem.” People high in classification say the solution to a problem “just comes” to them. They can’t figure out why everyone else doesn’t “get it” too.

As with the other abilities, let’s look at the characteristics and challenges of people that test high and low in Classification.

People that are high in classification love solving problems, love being intellectually challenged, and love learning new things. These people tend to thrive in chaotic work environments that are fast-paced and offer lots of variety. They love flying by the seat of their pants. They have an uncanny ability to pull lots of different points together and see the “big picture.”

People high in classification can be come very frustrated when others don’t see the solution too. This can be aggravated because, although people high in classification can see a solution quickly, they aren’t always adept at communicating that solution.

These folks can also tend to get restless if they don’t feel they’re being stimulated enough. They’ll even create problems just to have some to solve. Students that leave their term papers until the night before may well be high in classification.

While good at picking up information quickly, they don’t like taking the time to learn anything fully. They’ll learn enough to get by but they’ll think they’ve learned all there is to learn.

People low in classification tend to prefer more stability and seek to create work environments with more structure. They are good listeners and tend to be curious and accepting. They are patient with process and allow people the time it takes for their own personal development. They are also willing to take the time needed to gather all the information and learn subject fully. Given these characteristics, great managers and executives tend to be low in classification.

People low in classification can be overwhelmed with new information and change. They tend to be not well suited for chaotic environments and positions that constantly require them to put out fires. Initially the information gathering process can be time consuming which may cause them to look indecisive. Interestingly, once they’ve amassed enough experience, they’re often able to make decisions much more quickly than high classification people—another reason most effective executives tend to be low in classification.

Given the tendency of low classification people to be overwhelmed with change, you wouldn’t want to tell a donor low in classification about the organization’s new executive director, introduce him to the goals of the new capital campaign, and tell him of the plans to tear down one of the nonprofit’s buildings. You’d want to determine one thing to share with him at a time.

On the other hand, if you’re sitting across from a donor who seems restless, she may be high in classification. You might want to speed up what you’re saying or tell them about all the new developments with your nonprofit. You might even present them with a problem and ask for their ideas on solutions. (Given the non-linear nature of classification, this might work better if you’re actually at the location of your nonprofit.)

Which do you think you are: high classification or low? Remember, there isn’t a good and bad in this range. If you think you’re high, how do you keep yourself challenged at work? If you think you’re low, what kind of structure have you implemented to stabilize some of the chaos?

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