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How to Use Assessments to Develop Managers and Others for Personal and Professional Growth

Peter Drucker summed it up pretty well: “Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves, their strengths, their values, and how they best perform.”

You have invested a lot of work, time and money to hire and train a good management team. Bill has worked with you for 6 months. His communication style is direct. While he has many good ideas and is good at starting projects, he’s weak on finishing what he starts. Jill, on the hand, is great on details. She always finishes tasks she starts, but doesn’t show much initiative on her own. George is a good team builder and has a knack for keeping his team motivated. But when it comes to time management, let’s just say George could use some real help…he seems to require a lot of reminding about deadlines to complete his projects on time. And then there is Bridgett. She is bright and intelligent but not sociable. So you ask yourself, “Why can’t everyone be just like me?”

Every manager has experienced the frustration of not understanding what makes an employee “tick.” Even more frustrating, we can’t understand why a management approach that works well with one employee is ineffective with another…if it’s motivating to “me”, why wouldn’t it work for “them.” Given our frustration it is easy to conclude that if someone is different from us or works in a different way than we do, they are wrong. But different does not equal wrong. Different just equals different.

In the workplace we can observe eight different, but predictable work styles or behavior patterns common in people. Individuals and managers unaware of these behaviors patterns will unintentionally damage their personal effectiveness. When leaders understand these unique differences they then are in a more positive and powerful position. They are better able to manage, understand, and inspire people toward higher levels of productivity, lower frustration, higher morale, and better retention rates.

To help managers better understand the unique differences of their team members, many organizations are now using behavior assessments and personality trait testing for both managers and their employees. Back in the late ‘90s, only 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies used some type of assessment. Today, that figure is climbing to 65 percent. A year 2000 study by the American Management Association showed nearly half of 1,085 employers polled use at least one assessment in their interviewing process.

Why the big change? Assessments can help:

Individuals identify their strengths, know which jobs they are best suited for, and design a development plan to build on their strengths and shore up their shortcomings.

HR managers predict a job applicant’s success before they are hired.

Business owners understand the temperament and work style of individual employees and managers.

Supervisors can give performance feedback to people in a style they understand and accept for improving and accelerating professional and personal development.

People enhance communication, understanding, and improve personal relationships.

Sales managers select, hire, develop, and motivate super sales people.

Our clients find that using assessments improve their hiring, recruiting and retention processes. One example is a company that had made hiring decisions based on the candidate’s resume and the “gut” reaction of the person conducting dong the interviewing. Once hired, many of these new people created friction, had bad work ethics, and their attitudes had a negative impact on their coworkers.

Benefits of Assessments

Emotional Intelligence. By using assessments they created a visual benchmark (graphics and all) of what their “top” performers looked like in various positions. They used another profile to identify the values, emotional competencies and behaviors need for success based on the requirements needed by each department. (E.g. sales, customer service, management, tech support, quality assurance and others.)

They had a roadmap for success. They identified the behavior patterns, communication styles, motivators, and attitudes of their top employees. In other words, they had a good idea about what success looked like in their top performers.

These assessments measure individual attitudes, values, personal interests, and behavior with 85% accuracy. Now the company is able to screen out applicants who may have good interview skills, have a great resume, but still, are not best suited for the job. The process makes is possible to save thousands of dollars in costs and reduces a lot of frustrations.

All the assessments our clients have access to can be administered on the Internet and generate a highly detailed and easily understood report. One assessment creates an in-depth analysis on an individual’s behavioral and communication styles and provides pages of information including:

General characteristics

Value to the organization

Checklist for communicating

Don’ts on communicating

Ideal work environment


Keys to motivating

Keys to managing

Areas for improvement

Ranking of 12 leadership competencies

Action plan for improvement

Successful Development Begins with Self-Understanding

Successful personal and professional development first begins with self-understanding. The insights provided to each individual by their behavioral style report often have a profound impact. When you understand behavior styles, yours and others as well, then you have a roadmap for improved potential and enhanced communication. To help individuals visualize their own “roadmap,” the behavioral style assessment report also identifies eight unique behavior patterns and where they fit depicted on a wheel. The behavior styles are:  









Assessments DO WORK!

As management consultants, we are often asked to work with groups of people who are experiencing difficulty working together and/or meeting objectives. One example is from a sales organization that failed to reach its sales goals.

Once a behavior assessment of each of the directors was completed, the problem was clear. The executive director and three assistant directors possessed the same personality style—all four disliked confrontation. Their natural tendency was to go overboard to please people. They did not like to hold people accountable. After they understood their natural tendencies, they were able to adapt and manage more effectively.

Developing people is less expensive than firing them. (See “The Cost of Hiring the Wrong People” for just HOW much it costs to make a bad hire.) By understanding behavior differences an organization can align an employee’s motivations with the company’s mission. Assessments also help individuals reduce conflict and get along better. When shared in teams and one-on-one which each other, coworkers are helped to understand and appreciate each person’s unique strengths and abilities. With this knowledge organizations and managers can build on the abilities of their workers in ways to help make all employees better performers.

If you would like to explore how assessments can provide valuable insights for maximizing the value locked up in your human capital, give us a call at 410-499-0516.


Copyright © 2010, Catalyst Performance Systems. All rights reserved.

Catalyst Performance Systems  
   Phone: 410-499-0516

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