- There are three important functional areas of the brain—cognitive, affective and conative.
- Cognitive measures intelligence, affective assesses emotion and conative gauges
- It’s important for organizations to understand each of the three traits in order to build effective teams and put the right people in the right situation at the right time.
Have you ever been thrown into the fire at work or seen others thrown into situations in which they’re seemingly out of their element? More often than not, people rise to the occasion and demonstrate skills and abilities you (or they) never thought they had. I saw this phenomenon when I served in the military and I’ve seen it numerous times in the business world. It’s amazing what people can do when they really have to rise to sink or swim.
But, instead of throwing people’s feet to the fire randomly, suppose we could do so strategically and increase their chances of success? Think of the brain as a three-legged stool and there are special tests for measuring acumen within each leg:
1. Cognitive (intelligence)
2. Affective (emotion)
3. Conative (doing, striving)
Back in 1939, E. F. Wonderlic developed the eponymous cognitive ability for World War II soldiers and later it was used by NFL teams and mainstream employers. The Wonderlic test assesses an individual’s fit for a particular type of job.
In terms of the affective second leg of the stool, the famous Myers-Briggs test measures our thoughts, feelings and emotions. Developed in the 1920s, the Meyers Briggs test is still widely used today by employers and career counselors to assess whether we are “thinking” or “feeling” in certain circumstances, and whether we’re an extrovert or introvert among other things. The test assesses our preferences and what we may do in certain circumstances.
The third leg of the stool, conative, is about doing. Developed by Wonderlic’s daughter, Kathy Kolbe, in the 1970s, the Kolbe profile measures your striving instincts, your MO (modus operandi). Kolbe saw that conative instincts clearly identified what you will and will not do. This profile is critical in placing team members in the right position. You can take the 20-minute Kolbe profile to determine your natural striving instincts. It is a great hiring tool for taking some of the uncertainty out of what a new team member will naturally do and not do.
These kinds of assessments are very important because businesses survive and thrive when their employees succeed. Human capital is the biggest expense for your business, but it can be your biggest asset. You need to understand your people very well so you can position them for success and build really powerful teams.
To get the most out of your people and your teams, it’s essential that you understand their intelligence, their emotions and what they will do in certain situations. The aforementioned tests can also be fun to take, and certainly help you get to the next level.
Until next time, enjoy. Gary
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