Effective Use of Assessments

assessmentsBehavioral assessments play an increasingly important role in support of professional development, leadership team effectiveness, coaching and candidate screening.

Today, there are a variety of assessment tools available, including DISC, Myers Briggs, Insights, StrengthsFinder, and “Pioneers, Drivers, Integrators, and Guardians.” Each has its advantages. I like DISC. It is concise, accurate and easily understandable. It is also accompanied by an emotional intelligence (EI) component that measures EQ, emotional quota. EQ is essential in developing a deeper grasp of an individual’s emotional intelligence, and therefore self-awareness. I also find StrengthsFinder useful in conjunction with DISC and EQ.

According to Dr. Daniel Goleman, self-awareness is the cornerstone of successful leadership. It is also the foundation for improved communication, high-performing teams and improved productivity throughout the organization. According to Forbes, 90% of top performers are highly self-aware.

Let’s look at some of the areas in which assessments are used:

  • Individual Relationships: Research shows that emotional intelligence improves when individuals work to improve their areas of weakness, generally starting with greater self-awareness. Assessments provide the framework for individuals to modify their behavior and become more effective in their interpersonal relationships. Understanding these concepts also enables a recognition and better understanding of the behaviors of others.

    When used in conjunction with a 360° review, the assessment typically substantiates the review, and the two together become a powerful motivator for individual professional development. This applies to leaders and managers, as well as to individual contributors.

  • Team Performance and Productivity: Sharing behavioral profiles leads to clearer perceptions of team members’ styles and contributes to openness and trust-building. This is especially important when pulling together a matrixed team, where working relationships are still being formed and discussions around behavioral styles can act as a strong catalyst for team synergy early on. The impact on both departmental and matrixed teams can be significant:
    • Team members recognize and respect the behavioral styles of their fellow members and modify their behaviors appropriately.
    • A sensible balance between different styles is highly productive. For example, “drivers” tend to collide with “guardians” or “integrators” or high greens/Steadiness or blues/Compliance. However, opposite styles can balance each other and lead to strong working relationships. “Leaders that bring the different styles together will enjoy the diversity benefits of increased creativity and innovation, and improved decision-making.” (HBR, March/April 2017)
    • Psychological safety, an environment where team members are empowered and feel comfortable to speak up, facilitates open communication and healthy conflict. This leads to differences of opinion, effective resolution of issues, and commitment to consensus. Teams that enjoy psychological safety outperform.
  • Leadership Working Effectively as a Team: The use and sharing of assessments for leadership teams escalate their importance beyond departmental or matrixed teams. Why? Because the leadership team sets the operational, professional and emotional tone for the organization. The ability of team members to interact in a fluid, constructive, aligned manner has a significant impact on others. It also sets the compass for integrity, interdepartmental effectiveness and signals a no-tolerance attitude for political intrigue.

    Additionally, I strengthen the process by conducting a mini-survey on how effectively leadership is working as a team. Team members and managers at the next level also participate with ratings and responses separated by level to identify disconnects. The result is that personal and organizational differences become the basis for resolution and progress.

    For more information about this area, Leadership Working Effectively as a Team, click here.

  • Executive Coaching: Assessing emotional intelligence in this area is critical. While the importance of self-awareness, self-regulation and empathy are clear, the social skills aspect of EI includes relationship-building, communication skills, persuasiveness, political savvy, ability to diffuse conflict and contribution to team morale. So many of these competencies are mentioned in the 360° one-on-one interviews I conduct for coaching assignments, and are substantially supported by the assessment.
  • Hiring: Assessments are extremely valuable in identifying potential disqualifiers in candidates. For example, you may not want to hire someone as Controller who scores low on the blue or Compliance scale (attention to facts, details, rules, procedures), or someone as a sales representative who scores low on the yellow or Influence/Sociability scale. Interviewers can ask the probing questions to determine whether the “disconnect” is relevant.

If you’re interested in using assessments, we’d be pleased to discuss how to proceed and to arrange a free trial.


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