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Part 1: The Value of Assessments to Create Positive Change

Dec 2, 2020

Behaviors are what we do, and our attitude is how we think about things. Assessments can help us to understand both ourselves and our behavior. This knowledge can help us to create the kinds of change we desire and to harness the incredible power of our minds to become active participants in achieving our goals. Join Tim Schuster, Matt Kerzner and Natalie McVeigh from our Center for Individual and Organizational Performance as they discuss the value of assessments.


Tim Schuster: Welcome to our podcast for Generations in Family Business, Past, Present, and Future. Our hosts for this podcast are myself, Tim Schuster, and I'm a senior manager in the Center for Individual and Organizational Performance or CIOP and along with me as always is...
Matt Kerzner: Hi, good afternoon. This is Matt Kerzner and I'm a director in CIOP.
Tim Schuster: And we also have a special guest with us today.
Natalie McVeigh: Hi, I'm Natalie McVeigh and I'm a director in CIOP as well.

TS: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Natalie, for joining us today. And really our major topic of discussion is going to be an introduction right to the assessment for personal development. So Matt, why don't you kick it off? Let's have a quick conversation with Natalie about this.
MK: That's great. Natalie, thanks for joining us. So what are assessments and why are they so useful to people?
NM:Matt, that's a great question. A lot of people hear the word assessment and they think test. You can't imagine how many people tell me they don't want to fail these tests. Well, you can't really fail being a person. So assessments are really helping you understand more about yourself. In short, it's self-awareness. Now how you on your own can use assessments. You can use it to figure out your strengths. They've done studies that say if you can use 6% of your strengths in work, you're 60% more effective. There are some assessments that can help you talk about what types of careers you might be more effective at, where it's really saying not just your strengths, but what are the skills that you have? There are some that talk about your motivators. We're hearing more and more that we're really looking for organizations that match our vision, mission and values.

And our motivators really drive our own human values. And the most common that we see is really either behaviors or attitudes. So our behaviors are what we repeatedly do and our attitude is how we think about things. There's a theory called Self-Perception Theory that says we are what we repeatedly do and what informs the things that we do, our behaviors, i.e. habits or attitudes, how we think about things that trap us in these patterns.
So those are the four or five ways that we often use assessments as individuals. And then that self-awareness allows us to make choices. So when you talk about having regulation, you get too informed by things and some people take these tests and they say, this is great fun, and I'm perfect. And other people take these tests and they say, this is great fun and boy would I like to do one or two things differently.
TS: That's great, Natalie. So how are assessments related to personal growth and neuroplasticity?
NM: So neuroplasticity, you've probably heard a lot about it. Our brain is plastic. It doesn't stop developing in adulthood. People used to think it stopped developing at 18 or 21. It doesn't ever stop developing and we've got a long way to go Tim. We're not done developing.
TS: Oh I know. Yes we do.
MK: That's right. Well Tim, they always say October 16th and April 16th, yours stops for a day.
TS: That's what I keep hearing too. And I'm going to go with it.
NM:And so every day of our life we're moving on with these transcription genes. So the genes that change. And they change by what we do. So we create new neural pathways or new neural links. Now the research says you need about 300 intentional repeats to create a new habit. If you do that with fun, joy, and pleasure, which trust me, we make our assessment process really fun, it sometimes only takes 20 repeats.
Now, if you want embodiment, which is that means that Natalie does this thing forever, it's about 300 intentional repeats. So what assessments do is give us that behavioral data to help make these new goals, create these new plans for ourselves that are achievable and that rely on what we're good at. There's a reason many of us fail to keep our New Year's resolutions by February, some 90% of people. It's because sometimes we're trying things we're not good at or we don't actually like, so assessments really help us become active participants in those goals that we have versus saying I never want to do this. We find the affirmative goal.
Matt Kerzner: Yeah, that's great. You know, Natalie, you, you said an important stat here, 300 repeated up to create that habit. Can you just help us understand on a typical person, what does 300 repeat? What's the timeframe? Because I know if I was working with clients and we were working on change management and we were going to do assessments to help them, what is the realistic timeframe that a habit can change?
NM:It's between 66 days and 99 days, based on behavioral research. Now, genuine neuroplastic change around adult attachment, and we'll talk about that one assessment in a minute, the emotional intelligence assessment, that can take up to 18 months. And part of that is where the emotional intelligence shows up most is in our intimate relationships and in conflict in work. So we don't often have daily occurrences to work on that and work on that proactively.
MK: That's excellent. That's so important when we in CIOP work with our clients to really level set a timeframe regarding change and that's critical information. So thank you. Are assessments able to give insight into a career that might allow me or Tim or others to excel?
Natalie McVeigh: Absolutely. We have some assessments that really are based on job categories and they can get down to the gnat's eyelash. Like it can be shift supervisor for an electric company with 500 employees, so they can get down to the gnat's eyelash that way. One of the other things that some of these assessments can do is really talk about culture fit, where I may thrive the best. Because we know in hiring that culture is the most important thing. And I mentioned emotional intelligence assessment beforehand. That's really useful because that talks about workplace conflict and courage. So to be able to give feedback to employers or employees. So those assessments really allow people to examine their options carefully and proactively.
So if I find the perfect job, like I said, down to the gnat's eyelash, where I have all the capacity and competency and they like me and we're having a culture fit, and now I have a new colleague I'm having challenges with, that EQ assessment can really help you learn how to have that dialogue so you don't have to choose to go somewhere else. Because we often do that in jobs. They say people don't leave organizations. Well, they don't leave positions. They leave organizations based on culture or bosses. So ...
TS: So Natalie, let's discuss some of the different types of assessments that are out there that businesses can utilize.
NM:Absolutely. A really easy and quick attitudinal assessment is the Energy Leadership Index. And it really says how you think about things generally and how you think about things under stress. Trust me, your spouse, or significant other is going to love you after doing this one. Another assessment would be any four box model. You may have heard of the Myers Briggs or the DISC. I'm agnostic to which one you choose, but it really helps you describe behavior, communication style and work style. Now, if you really are saying, I want to be an executive or I'm thinking about being better at my employer, or I want to know what my career trajectory could be, you're really looking at either the Chally or the Caliper, and those are predictive assessments. The ones I mentioned before descriptive. They're snapshots in time. They're not saying what you will do. And these ones really talk about runway and allow you to make choices based on that.
MK:So Natalie, when you and I are working with clients and we're going in and we're first having our beginning of our engagement and we start talking assessments, can you just talk a little bit about how your thought processes as an expert in this area, of which is the right assessment to introduce to clients?
NM:Yeah Matt, this is something we do regularly. And please call me if you want to have this conversation for yourself. I don't believe in assessments just for assessment sake. They're one data point along with who you are, and especially with your hiring, there's also interviews and so on and so forth. So what I do is usually have a pretty comprehensive interview process about what are you trying to accomplish and where are the areas you're working on? Now, most people start with saying things like professional, and we find out because how you do one thing is how you do everything, there's clearly some personal things going on. And that'll help me make a recommendation of usually we call it a suite of assessments, one to two, because it'll usually get what's most obvious and it'll get what's underneath it. So until we have a conversation, I can't tell you what it is, but I know in organizations, what usually comes up is a four box model and either the EQ or the Chally for predictive things.
TS: Natalie, that sounds really interesting. Would you mind providing us with a little bit more detail or an example?
NM:Yes. I actually just had a call like this the other day. So there's a young woman who believes she's in a career transition right now, happy in a job that she has. She's a marketing director and she decided that she might want to be in a different career. So we had an in-depth conversation, these are gratis, where we spent about an hour together, where I really wanted to understand why she might want to do something. And one of the things she said is although she was driven by creativity to marketing, she really found sometimes it wasn't very tangible and that was important to her. So we did a combination of two assessments. We did a Caliper assessment, which really is kind of this motherboard assessment. It says all of these different things that comprise who you are together. And there's some job maps for that and we played around with a few.

And then the other assessment we did was really the emotional intelligence assessment because what kept coming up, as the director, which was also interesting, was she came originally because she thought it would be collaborative. And she was finding more and more that she wasn't able to have a team. And what we found in her emotional intelligence assessment is interdependence, a relationship style that works well together was one of her huge drivers. And the challenge was she was very self-oriented. So she would take everything on and she'd feel really hurt when people didn't join her. And so that was really the recommendation that we did, based on what she said. Now, anyone else saying they wanted a job transition, we may do two different assessments based on that, but it was really based on that couple of things she said to me, that really struck a chord of what's the data we're trying to mind? We're doing this very purposefully.
TS: That's great. Hey, Matt, Natalie, thank you so much for being with us today. And thank you for listening to Generations in Family Business, Past, Present and Future, as part of the EisnerAmper podcast series. Visit for more information on this and a host of other topics. We look forward to having you listen in on our next EisnerAmper podcast.

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