Know Thyself: The Toolbox


I must start out with a confession.  I am a self-assessment junkie.  I love analysis tools that help me better reflect on my strengths, style, and effectiveness and how I relate to the world and approach problem-solving.  I understand that not everyone does.  But even more so, not everyone even knows that tools like this exist or how to use them. This post is meant to remedy that.

Below is a round up of some of the best assessment tools that I have used in the past.  With a short description of each (not exhaustive or complete by any means) and a link to where you can learn more or take the assessment.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on your favorites (or these or others that I might not have heard of before).

They are in rough alphabetical order.  I have no professional relationships or affiliations with any of these organizations, although I have taken all of these assessments over the years.

DiSC: This personality assessment might be one of the best known.  It is administered by hundreds of consultants (chances are your own HR team might have a certified trainer) and can be accessed online for less than $40 (and there are plenty of free "knock offs" out there as well).  It identifies people's dominant dimensions (Dominance, Influence, Stable, Compliant) and graphs individuals and groups into different combination profiles like "Promoter" or "Counselor".  This is a simple tool to help people understand each other better.

EQ-i: This is a measurement of emotional intelligence, thus EQ-i stands for Emotional Quotient Inventory.  It is administered by lots of professional coaches and trainers and can be accessed online for less than $40.  It provides composites along several factors includes self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal, decision making, and stress management.  I have been told that a high EQ score is more important than any other single factor (IQ, etc) for professional success, but I do suspect that is subject to the field and role of the individual.  However, there is no denying the impact of interpersonal relationships on success.  

The Flag Page: The Flag Page was developed in cooperation with the marriage expert, Mark Gungor (Laugh your Way).  Although it is used by organizations, it is an inexpensive tool ($10) designed first for individuals.  It uses the language of citizenship to identify which "country" is dominant in your style (Fun, Control, Peace, Perfect). This is very accessible assessment and they even have one for children to use for family dynamics.

Harrison: The Harrison Assessment is a complex tool administered by trained professionals often as part of a team workshop.  It is based on paradox theory, which illustrates how individuals can act in seemingly contradictory ways, especially under stress.  It highlights 12 paradoxes that relate to the workplace (things like diplomacy and frankness or organization and flexibility) and plots each individual in a default position and indicates what behaviors they might demonstrate when under pressure.  The resulting individual assessment is over 20 pages long and the team assessment is equally as rich.  I understand the assessment is relatively expensive (over $300 per person), but I have never personally purchased it, so I am not certain.  It is much more complex and requires more work to understand and apply the insights than the other assessments.

Kolbe: Designed based on the research of Karen Kolbe,  the Kolbe Cognition Survey looks at how individuals approach problem solving and rates them on four dimensions (Fact Finding, Follow Thru, Quick Start, and Implementor).  The individual assessment is $49 and available on their website (a Kolbe A index).  They also have a series of products for determining job fit (managers complete a Kolbe C to develop a profile for a job and the employee completes a Kolbe B to identify their perceptions of the job requirements and when compared these B and C indexes show areas of gap or opportunity).  It can be used for recruiting and job fit analysis.  There is a youth version (Kolbe Y) as well.  This assessment is easy to digest, but allows for nuance and discussion than some of the more simple tools.

Myers-Briggs:  This is probably the most popular and extensively used "personality test" given.  Myers-Briggs is administered by thousands of practioners and is available online for less than $50 (and there are a number of free knock-off versions out there as well).  The survey gives back a score along four criteria (covering interpersonal styles, structures, decision making, and information) and sorts people into one of 16 personality types based on their responses. This is used in casual and in-depth coaching settings with success.

OAD: The Organization Analysis and Design survey is administered by an independent consultant or trainer certified by the organization.  It measures individuals along several constructs including assertiveness, extroversion, pace/patience, detail orientation, versatility, emotional control, and creativity.  Doing this as a group can reveal patterns and organize individuals into four profiles (architects, builders, experts and facilitators).  I have seen this used effectiveness to identify general patterns in groups.  It can be explained fairly easily (it is more complex than Kolbe and less than Harrison).

Clifton StrengthsFinder: This survey (developed by the "father of strengths psychology" Donald O Clifton and Gallup Organization) came free with my copy of Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham.  It allows you to self-identify your top 5 strengths and identifies how we can use those talents.  

There are many other assessments that one can do individually and in facilitated conversations with executive coaches or consultants, which I can cover in future posts.  

Which are your favorites and why?

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