Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Inventory Assessments (aka Professional Personality Tests)

Working in higher education can be challenging and rewarding. We work with students every day, we develop programming and initiatives that support the campus, and we work with others who have a passion for what they do. When you are able to find the right "fit," amazing things can happen. On all college campuses, collaboration and communication is huge HUGE in getting anything done. We are constantly asking for help, input, and brainstorms to make sure that what we create is going to be effective and interesting.

One of the biggest things in higher education and especially student affairs is understanding how each of us work best and also what we hold important in a work environment. A big part of our professional development/team building is inventory assessments. These assessments, available in endless ways, tell us how we relate to each other, how we relate to students, and how to get us motivated to do good work.

Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
The Myers Briggs is very well-known and often used in corporate settings to help breakdown the commonalities and differences within the staff to see how they can be more efficient and collaborative in their working environment.

I really, really enjoy this indicator because I believe it to be very accurate. I actually had my class of freshmen last year take the MBTI and they really, really loved interpreting the results and hearing about how these traits relate to learning, career, and life situations. At the time I had an MBTI certified (it's a thing) person from the career center come in and speak to the class. He was awesome, engaging, and incredibly patient with all of the questions and excitement.

Truly, ask anyone what their MBTI is on a campus and yep, they'll know. If you ever get the question "Are you an E or an I, are you an J or a P" then you know they are talking about MBTI. For your information, I am an ESFJ (on the cusp with the E/I though).

The MBTI website breaks it down perfectly:
     "Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is    called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).
Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).
Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).
Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)." (Source)

This is one of the many websites available where you can take the test for free.

Strengths Quest
This is something that I had no previously known about until I started my current position. It does cost money to do the "official" test but there are plenty of free options as well that might be useful.
This assesses your personal strengths or "raw talent" out of a list of 34 attributes. From that list, you focus on your top five core strengths. Here is a full description of the attributes. The idea in recognizing your key strengths is to then create a cohesive working environment that can then identify the right fit or position for people within an office and utilize them to the best of their ability. In our office, all of our professional staff, graduate students and student assistants have taken this and found it very enlightening

My results:
• Individualization - one who draws upon the uniqueness of individuals to create successful teams
• Connectedness - one who seeks to unite others through commonality
• Relator - one who is most comfortable with fewer, deeper relationships
• Empathy - one who is especially in tune with the emotions of others
• Developer - one who sees the untapped potential in others

Simple breakdown can be found at the wiki site.

True Colors (here is a free version and explanation of colors)
If you ever hear anyone say "Oh, you are totally a blue" then you have been attacked by the True Colors squad. This is a fairly simple assessment to show how you approach the world and your personality style and type. The biggest thing to remember is that most people are a mix of two colors and we all have a little bit of each color within our personalities.

The breakdown of colors:
Gold--structure oriented, traditional
Green--cognitive oriented, visionary
Blue--relationship oriented, nurturer
Orange--impulse oriented, adventurous

I am definitely a blue/gold. My blue side needs the human interaction and validation to feel complete and connected. My gold side needs stability in some form and is more realistic and systematic in how I approach things. My colors explain why I am in the profession that I am, academic advising, and also why I do well in a setting where I explain to students the requirements of a program but also can talk with them about things affecting their success like life responsibilities and distractions.


As with all personality quizzes and assessments, your current situation in life can affect the results. My E/I coding for Myers Briggs depends heavily on where I am and who I am with. In my graduate program I was definitely an E and most people saw me as such. In my current situation, I feel more like an I observing my surroundings and taking it all in while quietly assessing how I can be useful to my co-workers.

Some people may think these things are a little ridiculous or silly but I find them fascinating, even just to get a conversation started about how people process the world around them. Have you done any inventories or assessments like these? What ARE you?

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