In my late twenties, I got a job as an executive assistant for an amazing leader. He was ambitious, innovative, and invested in the development of his employees. From the outset, we worked hard to understand each other, explicitly discussing our work styles and what gets on our nerves. Then we hit the ground running.
A few months in, friction began to show up, usually during peak times of stress. He or I would react in ways that would cause more stress for the other person. We would push through, geared towards our common goals, but often the day would end with some form of misalignment. What was going on in the other person’s head?
This wasn’t just happening between us. We noticed it across our leadership team and through the entire org chart. We decided to do a team-building exercise with a facilitator who used a personality assessment to initiate dialogue. Almost immediately, there were ah-ha moments all over the room. My boss looked at me and said, “This explains so much. I wish I would have known this sooner.”
Now, this isn’t a fairy tale. We didn’t live happily ever after, never having butted heads again. However, we did have additional tools to address moments of tension and improve our communication. We weren’t perfect, but we were substantially better. So much so, that we were often complimented with, “I wish my boss/my assistant was as good as yours.”
There were two things at play here. First, we were both willing to learn more about each other. Second, we both actively used that information to adapt our methods to respect each other’s natural styles. By combining these two, you and your assistant can become a truly powerful partnership.
Before I dive into the three reasons why you and your assistant should take assessments to improve your relationship, I need to drop in a disclaimer. It’s very easy to misuse assessments. Please do not use any assessment results to pigeonhole someone in their results, to justify bad behavior, or diagnose someone’s behavior. Assessments are tools for dialogue and growth.
Why You and Your Assistant Should Take Assessments
Proactive vs Reactive
Everyone in the world wants to prevent problems before they start. Unfortunately, you can’t stop all issues from arising, but you can greatly reduce them by being proactive in your approach. Whether it’s in setting up collaboration, how you communicate, or how you construct your work environment, assessments will give you additional insight into the preferences that matter most to those who are working with you.
Be a Better Manager
Delegation and task management are inherently deeply personal. No one works the way you do. So understanding the person on the other side of the equation is key to maintaining a healthy working relationship and achieving your goals. Assessments will bring to light a person’s approach to tasks and what barriers to productivity they have (aka how they procrastinate.) As a manager, this knowledge will help guide you to delegating in a way that respects what they need to get the job done.
Quality Relationship Management
Employees stay when they feel valued, trusted, and have a sense of belonging. To build a highly-engaged and high-retention culture, foster an environment where employees feel seen and respected. Assessment can develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for others’ motivators and stressors so you can adapt your leadership style and respond to individual needs. An extra bonus to utilizing assessments is giving your team a common language that you can all lean into during times of tension or conflict, making the situation feel more safe and productive.
My recommended assessments are the Everything DiSC Workplace assessment for preferences and tendencies and the Kolbe-A Index for action-oriented instincts and strengths. You can purchase both assessments through me here.