What I learned from taking Assessment Tests

As a general matter, I’ve always been a little hesitant to be boxed into a corner by personality of assessments. My volunteer work with Women in Technology has allowed me access to the Predictive Index and the 360Reach.  I was promoting these to other men and women so decided I should take these myself.  This entry is about my personal experience and what I learned.

1.  Simple and quick:  The Predictive Index is a simple test where you answer two questions: one involves selecting attributes that you would use to describe yourself and one involves selecting attributes that you believe others would use to describe you.  If I recall correctly, you select about 10 attributes each.  There is also a 20 minute explanation exercise you have with an experienced PI interpreter. The 360Reach requires that you do a self-assessment, followed by solicitation of feedback from employees, clients, customers, mentors, family, etc.  There is a similar premise that you are selecting attributes that best describe yourself (or attributes are selected for you from those you have included).  It is a little more difficult in that you are only allowed to choose x number of attributes, as few as 3 and as many as 10 for each of the different questions.  There are also a couple of creative “projective” questions in the 360Reach that you are required to have your recipients respond to.  For me, these included “If you were a household appliance, what type of appliance would you be?” and “If you were a breakfast cereal, what cereal would you be?”

2.  Accurate: For fairly simple methodologies from an end-user perspective, it is incredibly accurate compared to how I live life.  For example, I chose to leave a good position at a large organization in 2011, in pursuit of a smaller, more agile environment. The PI determined that I’m “strongly venturesome in taking risks and focusing on the future.”  I would argue that this coincides with someone who is willing to leave a position, looking for greener pastures, without the next opportunity lined up.  The 360Reach assessment categorized my number one brand persona as “rock.”  “Rocks are always there for you.  You can always count on them.  Reliability is a core attribute of theirs.”  This matches my circle of friends.  While I don’t consider myself close to lots and lots of people, those I do consider close are ones that I would always be there to support.

3.  Perspective is everything:  This lesson was probably the most interesting to me.  The PI assessment is completed solely by you.  I would think that you could bias the questions so that the align better, or you are more critical of how others perceive you, or even more critical of yourself.  As I understand it from Teri Kinsella, who did my PI interpretation the test ends up balancing out in the end.  Of those people who admitted trying to game the system, their results still more accurately reflected their true personality.

With the 360Reach, the first person to complete it was a family member, who defined me as a leader.  In most cases, those results are going to be more skewed towards your success.  The second person to complete it had a very different perspective of me, who defined me more as a project manager.  This made sense as I tried to compile a good balance of friends, family, mentors, colleagues and employees.  This group of people knows me from different jobs, volunteer opportunities, or even just family or friend situations.  My context to them is different, therefore the it makes sense to see two different POVs.  The importance and impact of differing perspectives was also obvious in one set of feedback from someone who did not identify themselves as my employee that felt “I tend to motivate by intimidation” versus the person who clearly identified themselves as having worked for me that  felt “Dagny showed amazing patience when I had the pleasure of working for her.  It was under her that I was able to quickly develop my skills through a combination of trial by fire and the confidence that came with knowing that I could make mistakes along the way, as long as I didn’t make the same one twice.  She fostered a great working environment that was both challenging and fun.  She has an uncanny ability to hone in on what motivates an employee, and uses that to get the best out them.”  Interestingly, the initial comment was removed prior to the end of the assessment period and not included in the final report.  While that might have been a heat of the moment response, it’s something to be conscious about.  Each person has their unique perspective and motivations.

If you are interested in learning more about Predictive Index assessment, you can visit this PI definition or visit the PI Worldwide website.  To learn more about the 360 Reach, the Reach site is best.

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