I recently had one of those moments that caused me to take myself down a notch. I took one of the personality assessments I’ve used with clients (one designed especially for women on the leadership track) and didn’t like some of the results. When Valerie was coaching me on my results I got grumpy on her about the fact that the assessment said I needed to be more inquisitive.
Not inquisitive enough? Me?!?!?! I’m the queen of curiosity! Learning is how I motivate myself through every moment of my day! I learn to teach and I’m teaching about 5 hours a day. How is it possible that I needed to be more “inquisitive?”
Lucky for me Valerie is a truly professional coach and ignored my harrumphing fit with professional grace.
“Have you recently taken on any new professional roles or responsibilities?”
“Erm… well, yeah. I’m running a business now.”
“Are you as inquisitive as you need to be in order to be effective in this new role?”
“Erm… probably not.” Dang it. She nailed it.
Beginner’s Mind: The Expert’s Best Friend
I have always enjoyed working with personality assessments, but in the last few years I’ve found that they don’t tell me as much about myself as they used to. Valerie kindly explained to me that, being a coach, I know myself pretty well by now and so this was no surprise. But even though I’ve always believed that having a coach support you in interpreting your results is a good idea, Valerie proved it to me by helping to mine more meaning from my own scores.
Best Practice: Never provide assessment results without also providing coaching to help the employee understand and integrate them.
So with Beginner’s Mind I took a fresh look at my results and began to make myself a new learning plan based on my new role. Sometimes when you know so much about a subject, it’s hard to return to that fresh state of curiosity you so easily found when you knew virtually nothing (i.e., Beginner’s Mind). With Valerie’s support, I added a learning track in my own Personal Development Plan to start finding mentors and resources to support me in creating the entrepreneurial self I’m beginning to build. It was fun, actually. I stopped grumphing about it and started to enjoy this new area of learning where I feel like an old hand sometimes, and a true neophyte at other times.
What I’m Learning About Personality Assessments
One of the most powerful things I do as a coach is help people see themselves with fresh eyes. Assessments have helped me do this in ways that I simply can’t by myself, no matter how good a coach I am. Assessment results present our inner, subjective, reality with objective precision and–especially for people who are more of an “S” (sensory) on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)–this is hugely valuable and validating for them. [Assessment Geek Sidebar: Did you know there are more “S” people out there than “N” people? There are! Have a question or experience to share about the MBTI? Ask in our HR/OD forum.
How to return to Beginner’s Mind by looking at my results through the lens of my changed role (current or aspiring) was one of the new things I learned about the tools Valerie and I are reviewing in our webinar series, with two other coaches this year. This strategy works for individual employee leaders, too. One of the things I’ve enjoyed in using assessments with clients is how the results can give them a Beginner’s Mind perspective on aspects of themselves they’ve become unconscious about (like I did!).
Working with Valerie, Jennifer and Cindy in presenting this webinar series is taking me beyond Beginner’s Mind. It’s also teaching me that there are a wider variety of assessments out there than I realized (over 3000!) and that they each have something unique to offer individuals and teams. As a tool, personality assessments provide some of the following benefits (“almost” no matter which one you use).
Personality assessments provide individuals:
an objective basis on which to build their own Personal Development Plans
a neutral vocabulary to use with their boss and coach in discussing personal traits that need development
a path to learning more about others who are not like them
a path to learning how they can work with others who are not like them more effectively
Personality assessments provide teams and organizations:
a common, comparatively neutral vocabulary to use with each other in examining relationship and group dynamics
an objective basis on which to measure diverse thinking and personality styles in groups
a normalized approach to creating individualized leadership development programs
a way of “mapping” personality factors that will predispose an individual to fit into a team group comfortably (Best Practice Question: is the team too comfortable? See diversity point above…)
So this information is useful in thinking about your individual and organizational objectives to working with personality assessments, but how do you choose which one to use? In some ways, you can’t go wrong with any tool that has a research-based foundation and is administered by experienced practitioners. On the other hand, how you choose the tool is critically important and should be done carefully based on the following criteria (at least):
program and individual objectives
vendor experience with program objectives
vendor experience with organization/industry-specific factors
user/subject acceptance factors
budget and program rollout plans/limitations
In other words, this is a bit more complicated than it appears on the surface, which is like an individual answering a bunch of questions and receiving a report.
I am really enjoying my Beginner’s Mind view of personality assessments in bringing this webinar series together. Our first event in February was focused on how to review assessments (where I learned the above in addition to a bunch of other stuff). Now I’m looking forward to diving into depth on four of the assessments our panel of experts (like Valerie!) uses most, based on their decades of experience in this area. Our next four webinars will dive into their favorite tools in greater depth and we’ll wrap up with some lessons learned and case studies in rolling out assessment-based programs to organizations.
Want to join our webinar series? You can sign up to participate live for free, or register for the professional development program to receive live event invitations, access to recorded sessions and SHRM PDC credits.
Oh, and that one-of-a-kind assessment that specializes in women’s leadership? It’s called the Women’s Inventory Success Empowerment Profile (WISE). Valerie developed it herself to give women unique insight into their paths to leadership success, and she will review it with webinar participants this June. Join us to learn more.
Check out the resources in the InPower Coaching EQ at Work and Soft Skills Research Index.