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2014: The Year of Assessment

January 3, 2014

By: Jennifer Lucas

Sure 2014 may really be the Year of the Horse, according to the Chinese calendar, but since we’re not staring down at a second order of egg rolls on a paper placemat spelling out the Chinese zodiac, let’s rename 2014 as the Year of the Assessment.

A new year tends to open everyone up to new ideas.  Typically those ideas are about working out, trying a new hobby, being nicer to people or drinking less but it’s also a good time to be open to learning more about the people who surround you for the majority of your day.  How much do you really know about the folks who spend every Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with you?  What makes them tick? Do they even like egg rolls?

Knowing “who” your staff is, is not the same as knowing your staff.  You know Sally always brings donuts on Fridays and Kurt is always ticking items off his list – the one piece of paper he has on an otherwise impeccably clean desk.  Having your employees assess themselves using any one of a variety of employee assessment tools (like The Omnia Profile), is a good step in finding out “who” they are.

In our assessment tool, key strengths and possible challenges are identified.  The traits discussed are not designed to provide negative feedback, but instead, allow the employee and the employer to better understand how to maximize potential and identify – and even avoid – potential pitfalls.

One of my possible challenges, for example, talks about how I may have issues dealing with “insignificant” interruptions.  Yup.  I really have a hard time smiling and focusing when someone comes into my office to ask about whether or not using a Mickey Mouse paperclip on an internal memo is appropriate when I have a major report due.  But, now my team and I both know that about me and, to quote G.I. Joe “knowing is half the battle.”

There are also a number of online quick assessments and personality tests that can help ease the staff into the idea of being assessed if they are squirmy about it.  One of my favorites to break the ice is called “Draw a Pig.”  There are multiple places on the internet to find this quick and quirky personality quiz, but don’t let the amusement factor fool you – there are some very insightful bits to pig drawing.  I usually have a group of folks draw a pig and then paste the pigs to the board in the front of the room so everyone sees the pigs but no one knows who drew which one.  As I go through the assessment tool, I pick a pig and have people guess who, according to each bullet point, drew which pig.  It’s fun for the group to get to know each other better and it’s also insightful for the group to hear from their peers what traits they appear to possess.

Why is knowing “who” your staff is as important as knowing your staff?  The stuff that makes up the “who” are ingrained in that person.  The “who” includes things like morals, value systems, upbringing, culture, etc.  All of those play a part in how that person interacts with you and as part of the office dynamic.  “Who” helps tell you the “why” behind Sally bringing donuts and Kurt seeming a tad OCD with his lists and clutter-free desk.  And, remember “Knowing is half the battle.”


Jennifer Lucas

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