It’s About How You Think, Not What You Think: This Employee Assessment Takes You Outside the Box

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Want to know what your personality is? Or find out your ‘inner truth’? How about which Game of Thrones character you are? You could be a Cersei. Or maybe you’re a Jon. Take the latest BuzzFeed quiz to find out.

There are plenty of employee assessments and online quizzes out there that will reveal what box, character, style or type you fall into. And they all aim to answer the question: Am I a ‘this’ or am I a ‘that’?

But when it comes to the HBDI®, we talk in terms of thinking preferences. No one is strictly a ‘this’ or a ‘that,’ because everyone has access to their whole brain, regardless of what your preferences are. You simply prefer (and in some cases, actively avoid) certain kinds of thinking over others.

So, what exactly do we mean by thinking preference? Well, it might be easier to start by explaining what a preference is not.

Thinking preference doesn’t equal competence

People often assume that having a preference for analytical thinking means that they’ll breeze through any kind of analytical work. Or that having a preference for relational thinking means you’ll be great at working with others.

But having a preference for a certain way of thinking doesn’t necessarily mean you’re great at all the things associated with it. And by the same token, not having a preference for something doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be good at it.

To understand why, just think about a task you don’t like doing—a specific aspect of your job, cleaning the house, managing your personal finances. Maybe you even hate doing it. But out of necessity, you’ve become competent at it. 

Plenty of people are highly competent in jobs they really don’t like. You might be pretty good at organising all the logistics of your holiday, not because you like or want to do it, but because you know it has to be done. The task requires a lot of effort, but the prospect of a fun trip motivates you to do it.

On the flipside, plenty of people love to do things that they’re not so great at. A lot of tone-deaf people like to sing, but I’m sure a whole lot of people wished they wouldn’t. 

In the same way, your thinking preferences are simply a reflection of the kind of thinking you’re naturally drawn to, not the thinking you’re necessarily good at. When you’re ‘not thinking’ about it, it’s the thinking you default to.

Most people don’t have a single thinking preference

Here’s another reason why it’s an oversimplification to say you’re a ‘this’ or ‘that’ thinker: only 5% of the population in our database of millions of HBDI profiles has a single strong preference. 

Most people (92% of our database) have two or three preferences, and even within a single quadrant, differing degrees of preference for that kind of thinking will show up in different ways. Only 3% have a balance of preferences for thinking across all four quadrants.

At work, you can see those thinking preferences show up in the way you’re energised by certain activities—the things you find so interesting and so stimulating that you’d choose to do them over any other task. They may not be the easiest for you, but they are always the most satisfying and fulfilling. You don’t have to look too hard for motivation because your inner fires are already stoked.

Why you’re better at jobs that align with your thinking preference

Having said all that, there are strong correlations between thinking preferences and skills because we tend to do the things we like to do and, through that repetition and reinforcement over time, build up competence in them.

The reverse is true, too: activities that fall into the areas you have a lower preference for or even actively avoid can become big blind spots for you. It’ll take a lot more energy, intention and motivation to do them, and that’s why it can feel so draining. 

But keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of the task at hand. 

How to use the HBDI® employee assessment to take control of your career

Because the HBDI shows that you’re not limited by your preferences, it also means you can’t use the results of an HBDI employee assessment as an excuse or a cop-out! Instead, it helps you understand what’s going on and how you’ll need to prepare your brain for the stretch.

If you’re one of those people whose job doesn’t line up with your preferences, you might be feeling the exhaustion of having to stretch outside your mental comfort zones. 

There are a few things you can do to take control of the situation. You could look for a different job or profession. But maybe there are just a few activities you don’t like within your current role. Are there things you can do to modify the job to make it a more natural fit? Or is that discomfort really a learning opportunity that you need to take on in order to grow? Could that be your motivator to do it?

You can also try finding outlets for your preferences outside of work. If you have a high preference for the more interpersonal kinds of thinking but your job is all about cold hard facts and technical work, you might consider volunteering in your off-time for a cause that inspires you.

You don’t have to feel stuck in a box or trapped by your preferences. When it comes to your thinking, you’re not a ‘this’ or a ‘that’. You’re all of it. And once you understand your whole brain better, you get to be in charge of it.

Find out how Whole Brain® Thinking could benefit your organisation

The HBDI® assessment can help your organisation perform at its best by providing a better understanding of not only how you think, but how you could think better. Get in touch with our team to find out more. 

Request a free consultation 

Whole Brain Thinking Model