Leveraging assessment tools and personality tests

September 15th, 2009 by under General, On MBA courses. No Comments.

My MBA experience has been an eye opened in many ways. Set aside the learning, I have come to meet many people from different cultures and backgrounds, and have gained some insights about the way  some people think and act and how best to work with them in a team or in general as well. In addition, I have been able to understand myself better, about how I work best, what motivates me, what are my strengths, and my personality type.

This has largely been possible because of the plethora of assessment tools and tests I have taken over the past year. Through some of the classes I took, and otherwise as well, I got an opportunity to asses myself on various fronts – personality type, motivation drivers, behavior, characteristics, strengths and what not.

I first came to know about the value of such assessment tools in the first year in the Leadership and Managing Human Capital class, which touched upon the various personality types and how to work with them effectively in a team. We also discussed the advantages/disadvantages of leveraging such tools for recruitment, team building, appraisals etc.

The Myers Brigs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) is one such tool that I liked a lot, especially because it provided me insights about how I perceive the world and make decisions, and this helped me understand what kind of tasks/roles/environments I would be comfortable and effective in. I feel that this kind of an assessment can help one understand and better prepare for the career one is looking forward to, and thus provides another opportunity for reflection and introspection. Recently, I gave the MBTI again, this time as an optional exercise for the Negotiations class. Prof. Russell gave us the professional version of the test, which gave me inputs on my attitude, psychological functions, life-style, along with a detailed explanation of my type and outlined things I do better, my motivation and drivers.

Another assessment that I took as part of the Negotiations class recently is the Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI), which is a motivational assessment tool.  Compared with a behavioral assessment tool, SDI is a great tool for understanding one’s own behavior and identifying the values and motivations for that behavior, and it allows us to involve our friends and families and understand how they perceive us. This input is invaluable as self-assessment may be biased, as we perceive ourselves in some way, but people may take our actions and behavior differently. This tool allows us to understand what motivates people and what values drive their actions, so that we are sensitive to their needs and behavior, and thus are better able to manage conflict or communicate effectively.

The other assessment I took recently was the DISC, which is an acronym for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. This assessment examines the behavior of individuals in their environment or in a specific situation, thus allowing us to be aware of and leverage the characteristics of the various personality styles. I took this assessment for the Integration and Teamwork class, which is a core class in the second year and it helps bring together all the aspects and functions of business and allows the students to leverage the knowledge and skills, working in a team, to solve a cross-functional business problem. The tool was used for the class to identify the characteristics of individuals and the results were used to not only form diverse teams to work on different real-life projects but also to make us aware of the characteristics of the other individuals and how to leverage the skills they bring to the table.

Over the summer, while working at the Office of Marketing Communications, I got the opportunity to take the Strengths Finder 2.0, an online assessment developed by Gallup Consulting based on extensive research and the underlying philosophy that individuals should focus on leveraging their strengths and not worry too much on their weaknesses. I think that the concept is interesting, especially because it contradicts some of the ideas we had discussed in the Leadership class and I personally felt were correct.  I always thought that I should work on my weaknesses, as my strengths are anyways well, my strengths, and the weakness are the ones that can potentially hold me from doing something I want to do. However, the idea to focus on strengths makes sense, as it does not ask one to lose focus of her weaknesses, and in fact encourages working on the weakness to get it to a level that it no longer is a weakness. At the same time the philosophy encourages that you not spend too much time on improving on your weakness, as spending half the time on further developing your strengths would yield much higher returns.

I believe I have taken many assessment tests over this past year and that the experience of learning about myself, understanding the implications of my characteristics , values and personality type, has been equally, if not more, insightful as has been learning about other people and cultures. In fact, I feel that self-discovery has been one of the biggest value-add of coming back to school, and more so because I have especially taken time off from work to introspect and develop myself for new challenges, opportunities, a new environment and a more meaningful life.