• joe@jhanderson.biz   
    (206) 351-5607   

  • Psychological frameworks are a fascinating feast. There’s a huge number of items on the menu, including contemporary psychometrically validated tests like DISC, widely used profiling tools like Meyers-Briggs and the Enneagram, practical workplace-oriented assessments like StrengthsFinder, and archaic and unscientific (but still endlessly intriguing) intuitive systems like astrology.

    Rolling out an assessment to your workgroup has a lot of value for building awareness of self and team.  You might sort your team into INTJs and ESFPs, or develop “cheat sheets” for communication strategies from DISC assessments (“hmm, she’s a high-D, I’d better get to the point”), or explore your Enneagram type (“I’m a 1 and need things to be right!”). These are powerful practices, and—if they are explored with depth, subtlety and consistency—will yield valuable insights. There’s no question that, even in less ideal circumstances, assessments bring the human element to the forefront, shift a team’s conversation into useful places, and help team members avoid pushing buttons or falling into reactivity themselves.

    No assessment claims to present the full picture of human beings in all their complexity. Nevertheless, we do love labels. If Ralph is “VP of Engineering” and your boss’s boss, it’s going to be hard for you to talk to him as “Ralph.” Both Ralph and you will have to make an effort to get past the labels you each carry. Labels like “high-S” or “ENTP” can function in the same way: suddenly, this fully dimensional person in front of me, this person with a history of heartbreaks and joys, a lineage, aspirations, and a complicated inner life—suddenly this person has been tagged with a label. The label may be valid and well-documented and widely understood, and it may well make it easier for you to approach that other person as a human being and not a possible threat. But it’s still a label.

    It’s worthwhile to stop and look at your team’s labels from a psychological assessment—there’s good information there. But the real discovery and exploration lies ahead, in the conversation that develops among you, based on the human richness you each possess and the richness of the present moment.

    Try It: If your team hasn’t ever done a psychological assessment, choose one and take it together. If you haven’t done one for a while, dust it off (and catch up any new people in your group). How does this assessment help you understand your group’s dynamics—and how does the assessment oversimplify? What would it take for you to be more present, attentive, and aware of the full complexity of each of you as individuals?