Is Kolbe The Missing Piece in Your Workplace?
By: Kari Wolfe
“Diane will know – she has a long red line.” That’s a sentence you’re likely to hear at hb&k, thanks to a tool we use called the Kolbe Assessment. Kolbe shows each of us our natural abilities and how we can use those abilities to work together as a team. We talk about “long lines” because that’s how Kolbe results are displayed. Here is my Kolbe:
Without getting too in-depth, here is a quick explanation of the 4 lines:
- Red: how you gather & share information
- Blue: how you organize, arrange & design
- Green: how you deal with risk & uncertainty
- Yellow: how you handle tangibles
Your Kolbe is unique to you and only 5% of the population will have a Kolbe exactly like yours. It shows the way you most naturally do things when working under pressure, or striving to get things done. Let me share an example of Kolbe in play for you.
Kolbe Shows Your Natural Abilities
When I was in graduate school, I had to write a lot of research papers. I would go to the library and tell myself I had to stay until I’d written a certain number of pages. But I would start reading a piece of research, and half way through, I’d remember another piece of research I’d read previously, so then I had to go try to find that piece of information. I was constantly distracting myself and before I knew it, it would be 1:00AM and I’d gotten nothing done, except gather a lot of information. It was a continuous process of starting to read, starting to write, but always looking for the next piece of information instead of focusing on what was in front of me. It was exhausting.
By my second year, I developed a new system. At the library, I printed out all the articles I needed to start my research. Then I would go home and read “the abstract” which is just a paragraph explaining what the paper is about and what the findings are. A simple and short synopsis. If the abstract had useful information, I highlighted it. Each piece of information was highlighted in a different color. And each color had its own pile of correlating research articles on my living room floor.
After everything was highlighted and I had all my research in colorful piles, I started writing. On my computer, I wrote each the findings from my research in the same color as the highlighting I’d used so that it was easy to go back and reference later. And I think for the first time ever, I was saying, “Research is fun!” I was working faster, my papers were better, and I actually enjoyed what I was doing!
I didn’t know it then, but my Kolbe was the reason for my newfound love of research. Look at my Kolbe again. My lines with the highest numbers are blue (organizing information) and green (dealing with uncertainty). I needed to be able to have my information organized AND be able move from one piece of information to the next quickly. Getting all the specific data and information out of the article? My red line shows my natural ability isn’t in gathering data and facts. I started to love researching because I started doing it in a way that worked best for me.
Kolbe at Work
The cool thing about Kolbe is that when you use it with a group of people who all know their Kolbes, you can depend on other people’s strengths. I like to edit other people’s writing because I like to reorganize thoughts and help link ideas together. But I am not great at catching the smaller details like misspelled or missing words. At hb&k, I just ask someone with a “long red line” (just like Diane) to read through articles before we publish them.
Individuals and teams can equally benefit from knowing their Kolbe. When I was in grad school, I had no idea what Kolbe was. When I started at hb&k, I took the assessment and then Dennis shared my results. Our 20-minute meeting turned into a three-hour conversation about all the incredible insights I’d just gained about myself.
Working outside of your natural abilities is exhausting. Knowing your Kolbe can help you do you tasks more efficiently and help you play to your strengths. If you’re interested in knowing your team’s Kolbes, let us know! We can attest to its effectiveness and help your team work better together.