An Introduction to Individual Assessments

Happy Spring! Now that we are four months into 2017, it’s an ideal time to assess your organization’s progress against annual goals. Too often nonprofit leaders get so entrenched in their agency’s mission – and the daily tasks required to achieve it – that they fail to regularly evaluate their broader strategy. Yet it is this very strategy that serves as the tactical blueprint for accomplishing your mission.

And when it comes to creating and achieving strategic objectives, you must deeply understand your agency’s strengths, problems, opportunities, and threats (SPOT). This month, we will present a variety of assessments that provide SPOT data. These tools showcase individual strengths and illuminate opportunities for improvement. They include: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Strength Deployment Inventory, Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, and Assess 360. In our next two blog articles, we will describe these four tools and provide practical anecdotes for how they can be applied.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Perhaps the most well-known personality test, the MBTI is an introspective self-assessment based on the theory of psychological types described by Carl Jung. The MBTI assesses individuals on four preferences, or dichotomies:

  • Extraversion <- -> Introversion
  • Sensing <- -> Intuition
  • Thinking <- -> Feeling
  • Judging <- -> Perceiving

Brighter Strategies uses MBTI to show insights into personal and team development, improve communication, and reduce conflict. The tool provides neutral language that helps emphasize the value of diversity and promotes continuous learning.

MBTI at work

Jerry Miller is a new manager at a nonprofit agency where he is responsible for developing eight frontline employees. One of his first responsibilities in this role is to work with direct reports on their annual performance goals and career development. Jerry doesn’t know his new staff very well yet and is struggling to craft outcomes that will help each person shine on the job.

Jerry remembers his experience taking the MBTI years ago at his prior company. As an ESFJ, he understands that he is outgoing and empathetic, detail-oriented, and thrives when working within a structured environment. Jerry decides to use the MBTI to better understand his employees’ unique personality strengths and preferences. He asks each person to take the assessment and works with everyone to determine goals that align with their personality types. He then brings the group together to discuss how individual personalities represented can complement one another for the advancement of organization goals. His staff appreciates the opportunity to learn about their personalities and feels empowered to achieve goals that play to their strengths.

Strength Deployment Inventory

The SDI is another strengths-based self-awareness inventory. Unlike MBTI, SDI uncovers individual strengths in the context of relationships, with the goal to increase relationship effectiveness. It is designed to help assess one’s strengths used in relating to others under two types of conditions:

  • when everything is going well in relationships
  • when one is faced with opposition or conflict

Brighter Strategies uses SDI to help build connections and diminish conflict within organizations. The tool facilitates strong relationships through the insights people gain, the acceptance it encourages, the conversations it informs, the trust it increases, and the conflict it decreases.

SDI at work

Jerry’s been in his supervisor role for six months and has had some time to observe the dynamics of his new team. The MBTI assessments revealed a wide range of individual personalities, which help to spur diversity of thought among the group members. But having such various personalities at play also seems to breed conflict.

Since the MBTI was so successful in helping his employees set personal goals, Jerry hopes the SDI can deliver the team from their relational woes. He asks each person to take the inventory and reflect on their results. He then gathers the group weekly to facilitate conflict mediation. In the matter of a month, his team learns how their motivation in conflict drives their behavior in conflict – and begins to better work together in the context of group relationships and the organization’s culture.

In our next blog article, we’ll explore two additional individual assessments and see how Jerry applied these in his leadership position. Stay tuned!

For more information on how Brighter Strategies can partner with you to implement such assessments in your organization, contact us today!

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