A Myers-Briggs For B-School Students

by on February 24th, 2013

The questions, or rather statements, are relentless–all 574 of them.

But they’re succinct and to the point, requiring nothing more than a “true” or “false” answer from me. And yet many of them seem rather silly or frivolous.

“I don’t care for large noisy crowds.”

“I tend to be critical of others.”

“I like to talk to people.”

“I am often the last to leave parties.”

“People tell me that I worry too much.”

“I sometimes wanted to run away from home.”

Within 45 minutes, I complete the assessment and Reflect, the new soft skills tool launched on Feb. 20 by the Graduate Management Admission Council, spits out a report card assigning me grades to ten different competencies.

The MBA answer to the Myers-Briggs test – with an action plan to boot

It’s pretty much the MBA answer to the Myers-Briggs test, that HR-favorite psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people work and make decisions. In partnership with Oklahoma-based Hogan Assessments, GMAC so-called “soft skills solution” is made for students, professionals, business schools looking to develop leadership skills in the classroom, or corporations working to identify and develop talent in the workplace.

What makes Reflect, the first non-admissions product marketed by GMAC, different from Myers-Briggs or Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment, is that it can be effectively used without a facilitator or coach. You just sit down in front of a computer, answer the 574 questions, and out pops your scores on skills that are important for job performance and career success.

Your score ranges presumably indicate your potential to demonstrate each competency according to your personality characteristics; ultimately, higher scores indicate greater potential. But then, you’re also given suggestions for follow-up readings and videos to improve your leadership abilities. Built into the product are more than 300 tips and 200 learning resources that you can add to a work plan. And you can also benchmark yourself against others in 15 different job functions, from financial analysts and operations managers to sales executives and CEOs.

The new product was requested by several business schools to help their MBA students

The new assessment is the product of a multi-year effort by GMAC that was kicked off by several business schools which asked the organization to look into creating it. “Schools have been talking about soft skills for a long time,” says Peg Jobst, an executive vice president at GMAC. “They’ve asked us if we could put five or six questions on the GMAT to tell us if a candidate has leadership potential.”

A few questions on the GMAT, however, weren’t going to do the trick. After organizing a conference of business school officials in 2008 at Ashridge Business School in the United Kingdom, GMAC began to get serious about creating a soft skills product that would largely help graduate students with management development. “There were two big learnings from the symposium,” says Jobst. “Assessments perform reliably and are very valid, and an un-facilitated report didn’t work so well. Hogan already had the right instrument but we wanted every individual who took the assessment to have some significant takeaways.”

A 2008 symposium at Britain’s Ashridge Business School led to the product

A few questions on the GMAT, however, weren’t going to do the trick. After organizing a conference of business school officials in 2008 at Ashridge Business School in the United Kingdom, GMAC began to get serious about creating a soft skills product that would largely help graduate students with management development. “There were two big learnings from the symposium,” says Jobst. “Assessments perform reliably and are very valid, and an un-facilitated report didn’t work so well. Hogan already had the right instrument but we wanted every individual who took the assessment to have some significant takeaways.”

Ultimately, Reflect is a blend of three existing assessments by Hogan, which does as many as 50,000 assessments monthly, with the added developmental piece of suggested follow-ups, a work plan and the benchmarking feature. The product was tested in a pilot with 40 business schools and more than 1,500 MBA students during the spring of 2010. GMAC said it is in discussions with a handful of business schools to use the assessment.

GMAC is selling the product direct to students for $99 or at a bulk rate for business schools. Users of the product have access to their results and their action plan for three years after they take the test.

My report card grades: a ten on innovation but a lowly two for strategic self-awareness

What did I learn by taking the assessment? On my report card, I received grades of ten (the highest grade possible) on “innovation” and “strategic vision.” I apparently did less well on “strategic self-awareness,” where I scored a two, and “decision making,” where my grade was just three.

There’s commentary beyond a mere grade that gets into more actionable detail. Wondering what my score of two means for “strategic self-awareness?” According to Reflect, “Your score suggests you remain self-confident during times of stress or change. You may be overly confident in your judgments and downplay others’ feedback. While you are not overly concerned about others’ opinion of you, this lack of interest may be interpreted as arrogance. When mistakes occur, you are more likely to blame colleagues or external factors rather than thinking about your own role.”

Hmmm. And what about that low score on “decision making?’ The product tells me that “Your score suggests you prefer to make decisions based on obvious solutions with a high chance for success. When faced with a unique situation, you may rely on guidance from others or build consensus before choosing a course of action. Others will appreciate your simple solutions, but may become frustrated when you fail to consider trying something new or using the ideas of others.”

Overall themes are more significant than any single detail in the report

Of course, everyone has strengths and weaknesses and any score, you’re told, can have positive and negative performance implications. Overall themes in the report are supposedly more significant than any single detail.

To help with my strategic self-awareness, it is suggested that I read an essay entitled “Career Development: A Plan or an Adventure?” written by career coach Joanne Dustin, along with a couple of books, Daniel Pink’s “Drive” and Dean Shephard’s “From Lemons to Lemonade: Squeeze Every Last Drop of Success Out of Your Mistakes.”

And I’m also given some immediate tips, including these two tidbits:

“To heighten self-awareness, obtain feedback from external sources. Ask peers and senior leaders to provide feedback on how your behaviors affect your work.”

“Where you sit during a meeting makes a difference. If you sit at the head of the table, you’ll have less interaction and more deference to you as the leader. If you sit elsewhere, you will have more interaction and less deference.”

A recommended list of what you need to start, stop and keep

There’s still more advice, including a list of things I should start, stop and keep. I need to start trying to address problems before they hit my desk, but I need to stop allowing detailed, intense projects from drawing me into micro-managing behavior. Reflect tells keep others up to date with consistent communication efforts.

All this sounds pretty reasonable to me. With business schools devoting more attention to leadership, team building and motivation, the GMAC-Hogan test seems likely to be a replacement to both Myers-Brigg and StrengthsFinder on business school campuses around the world.

2 comments

  • “A Myers-Briggs For B-School Students” Roman Blinds ended up being a truly
    pleasant post, . Keep posting and I'm going to keep viewing! Thanks for the post ,Clara

  • Speaking of these kinds of reports and assessments, we are just about to announce an exclusive arrangement with CPP, the publisher of the Myers-Briggs assessment. We have jointly created "The Personalized MBA Game Plan™ Powered by the Myers-Briggs® Assessment." This detailed report, which starts with the Myers-Briggs assessment, is available to every Veritas Prep GMAT student and MBA admissions consulting client!

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