Assessment: Discover Your Blind Spots, Increase Performance!

Assessment is the process where one participates in a series of exercises to better understand their behaviors, interests, beliefs and values related to relationships, work, and life. The assessment process is one of discovering ones internal belief system and how they present those beliefs to others.  Parker Palmer wrote an article titled “Leading from Within.” The title indicates that to be a better leader in the world one needs to understand who they are and the role their belief system plays in how they lead and get things done. It is striking to me the number of leaders who are hungry to be better acquainted with themselves for the purpose of being better leaders. Individually we know a lot about ourselves, we really do, but we all have blind spots! 

When a leader spends time understanding their blind spots the better they will become at delivering on the expectations and initiatives that they are assigned. A leader who understands themselves executes their responsibilities better and as a result, run a more productive organization. This is the assumption that I propose to our client companies and the individuals they present for executive coaching and career transition.

The assessment process we use for coaching usually includes an assessment of the individual to understand their preferences. What work do they like to do? How do they prefer to do it? Individuals are better at work and activities that they like to do in addition to the fact they are better producers if they have the opportunity to do work the way that uses their strengths.

The next assessment we do is a 360 degree feedback survey. This instrument is presented by the leader to their direct reports, peers and boss. This often is a scary experience in that the leader does not know what all these raters will say. It takes leadership courage to go on a hunt for our own blind spots. What the leader participant learns is how others perceive them compared to how one sees themselves. It is in this seam that one can begin to see their blind spots. It is important to remember that a blind spot might be positive, as well as, a negative that we are not aware of in our behavior.

The assessments mentioned above tend to be objective instruments that have supporting research that establishes the validity and reliability of the tools. An additional assessment idea I want to offer is to encourage the leader to assess role expectations and progress on assigned initiatives with their supervisor. In the hustle and bustle of the work day, important conversations can go missing for a long period of time. I do not suggest micro managing direct reports or continually asking the boss, “what do you want me to do next?” However, I do think it is important to touch base and check expectations. One way of doing this is very simple. Do a simple 4 on 4 comparison. The 4 on 4 is where the leader checks in with their boss on aligning expectations. The boss writes down their 4 top expectations for what they want the direct report to do and the direct report writes down what they think the boss wants them to be working on in order of importance. The two parties should come to the meeting with their answers well thought out. The discussion that follows on the top expectations for the direct report and the order of importance will be eye opening. This is another great way to discover blind spots for the purpose of improving communication and quality of work.

Questions to ponder are….

What keeps me from looking at my blind spots?
In what ways would I be a better employee and leader if I was more aware of my blind spots?
What are the barriers to me assessing my blind spots?

How would you answer these questions? 

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