Where does KOLBE fit?

This piece has just been published in Apex.

I have had some queries from readers and clients about where the Kolbe Index fits with other measuring methods favoured by coaches, HR & recruitment agencies. My considered response is: “I’m glad you asked me that because I have done a lot of research into them and that is why I choose to have invested in becoming a Kolbe Consultant”

Usually I am asked about Myers-Briggs (MBTI) and DiSC; but I am also aware of MSCEIT (which measures Emotional Intelligence), IQ testing (the use of which with the US military was pioneered by Kathy Kolbe’s father, E.F. Wonderlic), PF16, HVVA, TONI, Social Styles, OVA and the Hogan Personality Inventory. There are plenty of others all with their adherents.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is the most widely used employee test in the world, not because it is better than other methods, but because it’s the oldest and most studied. The MBTI is based on Carl Jung’s landmark 1921 book, “Psychological Types”.

MBTI asks questions that rate four pairs of personality traits: your natural predisposition toward extroversion versus introversion; sensing versus being intuitive; thinking versus feeling; and judging versus perceiving. After taking the test, you get a score based on which traits are most dominant, with each trait represented by a single letter. The MBTI is a affective instrument it provides a deep insight into the way people want to work. It can change over time and people do have difficulties remembering their preferences.

The MBTI is a good for understanding how people think and interact emotionally and cognitively. But it is not so great in the job world as a predictor of performance. It is based on preferences, which may change over time or even with situation.

DiSC is a behavioural (observed) model, it helps people understand why they do what they do, by measuring the interaction of four behavioural factors: dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness. Using this information, DiSC can be used to describe a person’s general approach, including his or her motivation, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. The way you relate to other people is, in large part, defined by which of these social styles is dominant in your personality.

The Social Style™ training model originated by Merril & Reid looks to find flexibility – the ability to get along with people whose styles differ from one’s own. It is said that flexibility frequently distuinguishes success or lack of success. The two continuums in this model are Ask vs Tell and Controls Emotions vs Emotes. This results in the four social styles: Expressive, Driving, Analytic and Amiable.

The 2008 study by Colorado University and Regis Learning showed that Social Style is easier to understand and apply than Myers-Briggs or DiSC.

Hogan Assessment Systems specialise in personality instruments. Their 3 primary indices contain 28 separate scales designed to identify:

(a) how others perceive one’s behaviours and day-to-day interaction style from a leadership/managerial perspective,

(b) one’s values, and

(c) derailing tendencies that inhibit positive interactions.

The complete set of reports provides a comprehensive description of an individual’s behavioural tendencies, how they are viewed by others, and insights into how/why they are effective.

So it’s clear that there are a lot of instruments out there, all with their fans. To differentiate Kolbe we need to go back to basic principles. The mind has three basic features:

  • Cognitive relates to knowledge or intelligence.
  • Affective relates to attitudes, beliefs or values.
  • Conative relates to instinct or natural energy.
  • The Cognitive, telling you what you can or can’t do, is measured by IQ, and similar, tests.
  • The Affective, telling you what you want to do, can be measured by most of the systems that I have described above.
  • The Conative or Natural Instinct is measured by use of the Kolbe Index.

The Kolbe Index has been shown to be consistent over periods of many years. As a potential employer or someone looking to build a team that you can predict and rely upon for consistency this is most important. The measures of the Affective mentioned earlier can change dramatically in a relatively short space of time, MBTI as much as 50% in six weeks, as an employer I would find that scary.

Kolbe is a straight forward, simple to remember, system that tells you how employees and colleagues approach their work and problem solving, and how they will ACT during stressful times. Let’s face it that’s really what we want to know when we hire someone or work with them on a team isn’t it?

For more information and to take the Kolbe A Index go to my website.

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