A Useful Tool for the Recruiting Toolbox | Working Genius Assessment

Posted on: September 12th, 2022 by Valerie Wetlaufer | No Comments

At CITY, we know our people are our greatest asset. One of the steps in our hiring process that helps us put the best people in the right positions is the Working Genius assessment. Pioneered by Patrick Lencioni, the Working Genius is a tool to help determine someone’s natural gifts, and which position will help them be successful and fulfilled in their work. The assessment provides detailed insights about areas of “working genius,” “working competency,” and “working frustration,” along with a robust application to help leverage this information in our work, on our teams and in our lives.


We were first introduced to this concept by our strategic planning coach Dan Gonder at Strategic In/Sight Partners, who is part of a professional network lead by Lencioni.


One of CITY’s main goals is to develop long-lasting partnerships with our employees and our clients, so understanding how we can best utilize our talented employees plays a big role in the company. Understanding yourself and your teammates helps ensure better, more honest communication, and the Working Genius is a tool we are using to facilitate sustainable success.

Working Genius

The genius areas are those that you are good at and that give you energy and joy.


Working Competency

Competencies are neutral areas; you can do them fairly well, maybe even very well, but you don’t derive great joy or energy from them.


Working Frustration

Finally, your areas of frustration are areas that are draining for you, and lead to burn out, if forced to spend too much time in these areas.


Working Genius is incredibly helpful for existing employees on your team, but it can also be useful in talent acquisition. We believe that people are happiest when they can spend more time working with their own natural strengths, and less time doing work that frustrates them, and can lead to dissatisfaction with their jobs.


“How do we ensure that the skills and talents of our employees are best utilized? Certainly, many research studies have shown that engagement increases when individuals are able to do what they do best each day, so how do we make sure they’re in the right seats and have plenty of opportunities to do what they do best. … Having the right people in the right seats requires knowledge of what each employee does best, and what will naturally give them higher energy and joy within their work. Everyone has areas where they are naturally gifted, and when employees spend enough time every week in these areas, it’s going to lead to higher levels of fulfillment, joy, and energy for the employees, and, ultimately, greater productivity and effectiveness for the organization. Conversely, when employees spend too much time in areas they dread or it’s a natural frustration, it results in the opposite impact, and that’s where performance issues become consistently a challenge, or burnout comes into the equation. So, the Six Types of Working Genius is designed to identify natural areas of genius and frustration, to make sure every employee is in the right seat within the organization,” our consultant Dan Gonder, of Strategic In/Sight Consulting explains.


From the recruitment standpoint, we understand that a resume and work history is only part of the recruiting process. Tools like the Working Genius allow us to identify an employee’s potential, their strengths, and consider where they’d be most likely to succeed and find joy in the work based on our available job opportunities.


So, what exactly is the Working Genius?


The Working Genius assessment is a 10-minute questionnaire that identifies an employee or potential employee’s areas of “genius” or strength through a series of questions. The six types of Working Genius are Wonder, Invention, Discernment, Galvanizing, Enablement, and Tenacity.



  • Wonder refers to the natural gift of pondering the possibility of greater potential and opportunity in a given situation.


  • Invention is the natural gift of creating original and novel ideas and solutions.


  • Someone with a genius of Discernment has the natural gift of intuitively and instinctively evaluating ideas and situations.


  • Inspiring and organizing others to action and rallying the team describes a person with the Galvanizing genius.


  • Enablement is the gift of providing encouragement and assistance for an idea or project.


  • A person gifted at pushing projects or tasks to completion to achieve results has a genius of Tenacity.


Being able to understand your own or your team’s personal areas of working genius can help impact employee engagement.


“When I received the results of my assessment, I felt that it was very accurate,” says CITY Assistant Marketing Manager Valerie Wetlaufer. “My areas of genius are Wonder and Discernment, which definitely feels true. I do like to ask deeper questions and know the reasons behind why we do what we do. What I found particularly helpful was the section of the report that tells you how others sometimes see you. Asking questions all the time might come across as dissatisfaction when it’s really just my natural curiosity. Knowing this helps me be a more effective communicator at work and at home.”

Patrick Lencioni, the creator of the assessment, says, “organizations and teams–even families–that don’t tap into the true genius of their members can’t come close to realizing their potential. They are left puzzled by their inability to achieve their goals. This often leads them to make inaccurate and hurtful judgements about one another, and to feel unnecessarily guilty about their own shortcomings.

“What makes all of this particularly tragic is that it is avoidable. The solution is for everyone–employees, managers, students, and spouses–to identify their areas of working genius, as well as their areas of life-draining weakness, and to put themselves in a position to tap into their genius more and engage in their weakness less.

“That is what this assessment is all about.”

Not only can the assessment help you better understand yourself, and make choices about your career, but it helps managers and teammates hire new employees more effectively and better understand their co-workers in order to optimize success and productivity.


“Knowing the strengths and challenges of my colleagues is very important. A diverse group is vital to the success of a mission or organization,” said Mark Ballo, Des Moines Regional Manager.


Using the assessment to understand our team members is incredibly insightful, and it helps us make sure qualified applicants are placed in the position that allows them to be at their best. We believe in finding the right people who fit CITY’s culture, and then finding the right position for them within the organization. We also believe that understanding yourself and your own strengths, as well as those of your team members facilitates better working relationships when you understand how others approach a project or task. The ideal team is made up of people with a range of working geniuses, so that they can each approach a problem from different perspectives, leading to cohesive teams, engaged employees, and a successful company.




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