Using the Kolbe assessment at Engagement Multiplier lets us understand ourselves better – our strengths, our motivations, and how we each approach problems to be solved. Knowing our scores helps us understand who we can lean on when needed, who can offer support in areas we lack. Kolbe scores also help management understand what they can do to support improvement and growth for each team member, and which tools each person needs to succeed. This is especially important for global companies working to engage teams dispersed throughout the world.

We’re huge fans of Kolbe around here, and it all starts with the hiring process. If you aren’t familiar with Kolbe, let’s start with the basics.

What is a Kolbe Score?

The Kolbe Score is from the Kolbe A Index, a personality assessment that focuses on identifying the primary way the test-taker instinctually gets things done. There are four “action modes” or types (Fact Finder, Follow Thru, Quickstart, and Implementer), and measurements for how respondents approach challenges (Preventative, Accommodating, Initiating).

One definition we really like comes from Paul Kortman’s “Laymen’s Guide to the Kolbe Score:”

“A Kolbe score shows your instincts, your natural desires of how to act. This isn’t Myers Briggs’ ‘are you an Extrovert or Introvert?’ It’s more of a how well do you work with teammates to get things done?”

At Engagement Multiplier, we think of it as a test that helps us understand how a person solves problems, what their strengths are, and how to communicate with them in the best possible way. Nothing is black and white – it’s all graded on a continuum.

  • Fact Finder – Measures how detail-oriented and reliant on facts you are. Someone who scores high as a Fact Finder would do well in roles that require gathering and analyzing data.
  • Follow Thru – This shows how much a person wants structure and processes to get from start to finish. Some people are more inclined to bypass systems to get things done, but someone who scores high in Follow Thru would be heavily process-driven and prefer to work out systems to get from start to finish.
  • Quickstart – Measures how likely someone is to take risks, whether that be by innovating, experimenting, or improvising. If you score low here, you’ll be more inclined to stick with tried and true plans. Many entrepreneurs score high in Quickstart.
  • Implementor – Measures how we work with physical space. Do like to work with your hands, or can you see in your mind’s eye how physical objects work together.

There’s a 9-point scale for each of these, with the lowest score as 1 – which means a Quickstart score of 2 will enter into panic-mode if asked to do something new and unproven, whereas a Quickstart score of 8 will feel stultified if they can’t experiment.

Kolbe scores aren’t really for individual soul-searching – their real value comes into play when you can see how different Kolbe scores will work together and play off each other in a team. When you know each employee’s strengths and weaknesses, you can concoct an ideal team – or at least understand why an existing team is veering towards dysfunction.

Many companies, including us, use Kolbe scores in the hiring process as well.

How we hire with Kolbe

We use the Kolbe assessment as a hiring tool to help us find employees who will be the right fit for individual positions and within the context of a specific team (and our company overall).

Before we begin the hiring process, we determine what an ideal score would look like for the open position. Our only stipulation is that the ideal score should not be similar to any existing team members’ Kolbe scores, because our goal is to build a team that supports each other’s skills and strengths. If you have a team full of Quickstarts, for example, they’ll have a lot of great ideas, but very little follow-through.

As the saying goes: “Too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the soup!”

Once we know what characteristics we’re looking for, our hiring process goes like this:

  1. Review application and resume
  2. Narrow down candidates and share their info with the team members with whom they would work closely
  3. Conduct a group interview
  4. Have them take the Kolbe assessment
  5. 1-on-1 interview with Stefan Wissenbach, our founder and CEO
  6. They’re hired!

Transferable Insight

The art to using Kolbe scores is in finding a complementary mix of strengths for each team, so as you add new team members into the mix, their skills, abilities and instincts will support – rather than conflict or compete with – their new coworkers. Whether or not you use Kolbe assessments, focusing on how new employees’ personalities and skillsets will work within the context of their teams is well worth doing. Building a balanced team is an important strategy for improving employee engagement.