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How to use (and not use) self-assessments

Any of these look familiar?

If you're reading this, chances are at some point you've completed a self-assessment at work. There are a range of popular workplace assessments, like the ones pictured above: The Leadership Circle, Gallup CliftonStrengths, Team Management Profile (TMP) and DiSC. You may have seen other 360s like the Leadership Success Profile or TMP's Emotional Intelligence profile. Maybe you've done some free self-assessments around your communication styles, influencing styles, saboteurs, or listening skills.

In short: there are heaps of self-assessments you can take.

We use many of these self-assessments when we work with clients, and we wanted to share our top tips from experience.

If you're thinking about taking a self-assessment, or having people at your work take one, then read through our disclaimers, definite don'ts and definite dos.

Three disclaimers before we begin:

  1. There's always a level of bias when you're thinking about yourself. If it's a self-assessment, you filled it in. Your responses can vary based on your mood, the time of day you took it, and the reason why you took it. Be mindful of this before you take the assessment.

  2. Each assessment measures different things. They aren't all suitable for all situations.

  3. The assessment is only a tool - it's not a solution. It's a hammer, it won't build the shed.

What not to do

Before diving into how to use different self-assessments, here's what we'd recommend not doing.

  1. Don't treat the results of the assessment like a holy book that gives you all the secrets about someone.

  2. Don't put people in boxes. It's a tool to start the conversation not to stereotype them.

  3. Don't spray and walk away; aka don't do the assessment, read it over once, and then never look at or discuss it again.

  4. Don't use self-assessments as a recruitment tool. That's very clearly not a process where people will feel safe to be honest and vulnerable - which is exactly what you need with self-assessments. We refuse to provide assessments if it's incorporated into a recruitment process.

How to use workplace self-assessments

If you're making the time investment (and in many cases, monetary investment) in yourself or for your team, here are some things you should do to get the best value out of it.

  1. Tip 1: Be clear on the purpose Start this process by being very clear what the assessment is going to be used for (and not used for). Explain why it's important. Do some prep to make sure you understand the purpose.

  2. Tip 2: Make the time Make the time to properly do the assessment. Make sure you're not rushed and you're in the right headspace for personal reflection. Then, make the time to properly read the assessment. Here's a good start - read the assessment 3 times in the first week - read it fully, immediately upon getting the results. Then, the next day, reread it with a pen/highlighter and make notes as you go. Then give it a few days, and read it a third time to see what new information you pick up. You've read it. But also make the time to properly reflect on the assessment. Look back in time at your track record and make connections with your thinking and behavioural patterns. Deliberately take a positive mindset to your reflection; think about how these aspects of you have helped you and those who have been around you. What does the best version of this look like? How have you embodied that?

  3. Tip 3: Actually use them! As noted, it's not a mould-killer; you can't just spray and walk away. You're investing your time (and potentially money) into completing this assessment. Reading the assessment isn't enough. Have a plan for how you're going to use the learnings about yourself (and others) at work. What's one action you can take? Here's a start -- share the assessment with someone else who knows you! Then ask them reflection questions like:

    1. What made sense to you in the report?

    2. What surprised you?

    3. What connections, situations or experiences did this report bring to mind?

    4. What feedback do you have?

  4. Tip 4: Embrace the language A shared language is one of the biggest benefits these assessments can bring to a group of people. How do you explain things about yourself that are innate -- how you naturally think and approach things? That's really hard. It can be a challenge to put into words. Assessments give everyone a shared language to describe things about themselves and a helpful way for us to understand others. Lean into the language used on shared assessments.

  5. Tip 5: Use the name, claim, aim approach

NAME: use the language of the assessment to describe your behaviours, patterns, approaches, preferences, etc.

CLAIM: call out examples of when you see these things at play in yourself and in others

AIM: identify ways to purposefully and deliberately use what you know to help yourself and help others

Self-assessments can be incredible tools to help you better understand yourself and others. If used correctly, the results can elicit meaningful insights and powerful connections to make you, and your teams better. If not, it's a waste.

If you would like to know more about how you, your team, or your organisation can benefit from self-assessments, let's talk!


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