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The difference between assessments like CliftonStrengths, Kolbe, MBTI, and more

March 01, 2024

  • Kolbe A™ Index
  • Kolbe Wisdom
  • Teams

Choosing the Right Assessment to boost Team Productivity in 2024

Team leaders are always looking for ways to increase productivity and improve collaboration. Assessments that give insight to make better decisions about your team are a valuable way to meet your goals. But what type of assessment do YOU need to improve group dynamics, and boost employee productivity and team engagement?

Picking the right kind of assessment for your team starts with identifying the type of problem you’re trying to solve and knowing which part of the mind will drive the behavior you desire.

What are the Three Parts of the Mind?

First, did you even know there are three parts of the mind that impact team success?

Well, the first two you’ve likely heard of, but the third part is the missing link that most people don’t know about but can help drive the most productivity in your workplace.

The three parts are:

  • cognitive (thinking)
  • affective (feeling)
  • conative (doing)

Cognitive assessments evaluate your knowledge and skills — how smart somebody is and what they know.

Affective assessments evaluate your personality, preferences, and motivations — someone’s interpersonal skills.

A conative assessment evaluates your instinctive talents — the way you naturally take action to do your job, and the only assessment available that measures this is the Kolbe A™ Index.

When possible, effective leaders will use a combination of all three types of assessments in order to get a well-rounded understanding of their team. But, on a case-by-case basis, you may choose one over the other.

Why use a cognitive assessment - an IQ or skills test?  

Cognitive assessments, like the Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test, help you understand what your people know or their general ability to reason. It’s unusual to use these types of assessments in a group or team setting. On an individual level, a cognitive assessment helps leaders understand where members of their team may need some additional training or experience to fill any gaps. The reality is that some of the brightest people don’t always get a lot done and hiring a team of super-smart people doesn’t mean your team will function well, and that’s why leaders look beyond cognitive assessments.

Why use an affective assessment — a personality test?  

Most of the popular assessments on the market are measuring the affective part of the mind. These assessments are useful for understanding what motivates a team member, knowing what their values are, and how they prefer to interact with others (e.g., are they an introvert or extrovert?).

So, if you’re having issues on a team with one or a few individuals and you think it’s driven by a clash of values or what each person sees as important, or how they prefer to interact, you may use an affective assessment, such as Gallup’s CliftonStrengths® assessment, or Predictive Index® or even DiSC® and Enneagram.

These assessments are great for spotting differences in values or interpersonal skills, but in terms of reliability, they often come up short because a person’s likes, dislikes, preferences, and even motivations will change over time.

Personality also doesn’t predict results in terms of problem solving or decision making. That’s what leads great managers to measure the third part of the mind — conation.

Why use a conative assessment — the Kolbe Index?  

The conative part of the mind will help you predict how your team will complete tasks when they’re striving. In other words, a conative assessment will tell you specifically how a person takes action, regardless of their personality or cognitive abilities.

The Kolbe A™ Index is used by people leading teams of all sizes to understand how their people make decisions, solve problems and work together with others. This conative assessment is much more reliable than other assessments and you can count on the results for a lifetime.

So, if you have hired somebody who is super smart and fits in with the company in terms of their interpersonal skills, but they’re just not doing the job how you need it to be done, there’s likely a conative mismatch.

Unlike affective assessments, discovering the conative part of the mind helps a team leader understand how their team will execute in specific domains (such as dealing with details, organization, uncertainty, and tangible solutions), so it can be used for improving team productivity, team communication, job alignment, and even hiring new team members.

Bottom line, should I use an assessment to improve team productivity?  

Yes. Maybe a few of them.

A team leader can be exponentially more effective by understanding how their team members operate in all three parts of the mind. If you truly want to improve team productivity and employee engagement this year, you’ll explore how assessments can help.

So, can YOU help me select an assessment?  


We’ve created this simple checklist describing the three parts of the mind, the most common assessments measuring each part, and the most common questions or people-related problems solved by each type of assessment.

Download Checklist
    Posted in:
  • Kolbe A™ Index
  • Kolbe Wisdom
  • Teams


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