Summary / Q & A



Q:  It's my task to write weekly performance reports for my company, which promptly get shoved in a drawer and are never looked at. I like most parts of my job, but I feel like this meaningless task unnecessarily drains my energy. How can I get that energy back?

A:  Reports are one of those things that someone has to do for company records, and it looks like you got stuck with the task. Sure, you have to do them, but why exert unnecessary effort doing them perfectly? If you know your work won't be looked at, do the report accurately, but don't nit-pick over every detail.

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Q:  My boss hands out assignments; we employees have no say in the work we are given. Most of the assignments I receive feel like a waste of my time and talents. Is there any way to rectify this situation?

A:  Your boss surely wants you to be productive but it sounds as if he or she doesn't know how to make that happen. Assignments of necessary work are probably not the issue as much as a lack of freedom to accomplish them through your natural strengths.Ask for the authority to approach your responsibilities in your own best way. Suggest that your work be evaluated on results, not prejudged by the process you use. Then perform well to prove the point!

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Q: I was recently laid off. I'm concerned about finding a new job quickly, but I'd also like to take this as an opportunity to find a career more suited to my natural talents.

A:   If you want to utilize your natural talents, don't let your resume limit your options. Don't talk yourself out of opportunities. If a job feels right even though it's not quite like anything you've tried before, trust your guts and go for it!

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Q:  I've had a lot of stress in my family life lately. My concern for the problems at home is beginning to affect my job performance. I can't afford to lose my job! Is there a good way to approach my boss with this situation?

A:  It's sad that we have to be ashamed about not having an unlimited supply of energy. If your family needs to take precedence over work, then that's what you need to commit your energy to. Explain to your boss that your work is important to you and that you will dedicate as much energy to it as you can, but your family needs to take top priority at the moment. If there is intolerance for need, you can't afford to stay there in the long-run. Start looking for better options.

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Q:   We've got a couple of good professionals in our office who are constantly going at each other. How can we eliminate conflict in relationships like this?


A: Determining the source of the conflict is the place to start, and this is not easy. If the conflict stems from discernable personality differences, conative understanding may not provide a solution. Look for descriptors for either one such as autocratic, demanding, manipulative, arrogant, obnoxious, loud, assertive, etc. These all describe social-style traits that have nothing to do with conative definitions of how people take action. If, on the other hand, the conflict seems to arise from a lack of respect or understanding for the way the other person solves problems or accomplishes tasks, conation may have something to work with. Perhaps one person resists working within systems created by the other. If each were to acquire a good understanding of the natural and necessary way the other takes action, the situation would be defused. When it becomes clear that there is no intention by the "violator" to tear down the other's work, but rather a need to not be boxed in too tightly, you begin to understand. Likewise, there has to be some understanding of the need for systems in any modern organization and acceptance that their creators need not automatically be identified as control freaks. The seeds for conflict are the seeds of synergy, as well; the results depend on how they are watered. Remember, people don't have to like each other to work together effectively.

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Q:  I've found that people in our company who are high in Quick Start are also loud and assertive. Why is this?

A: There is absolutely no connection between those two characteristics. Quick Start is a conative type describing innovators and change agents while being "assertive" falls under social style. Being "loud" is just plain bad manners; it definitely isn't conative. We see some very introverted Quick Starts who certainly wouldn't fit your description above. Sorry you're stuck working with them.

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Q: Can you use conative abilities to identify people who just shouldn't be involved in a project? Are there people who just can't adapt?


A: Conative abilities do not dictate what we can or can't do in a given situation; rather, it is about what we will do, are willing to do, or won't do. People will do their best work when their talents are matched to the task. That doesn't mean that for even short periods they would be incapable of working against their grain. However, putting them in a situation where they are consistently asked to work in ways that are not natural for them will not only increase their stress level, but also will result in their not being able to give you their greatest productivity.

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Q: Many people are starting family businesses. Is it difficult to work with family members?

A: Trust and shared values can make it easier for family members to work together. However, stereotypes regarding natural abilities often cause serious problems. If you assume that the father or oldest son is the natural manager, you may be in for a surprise. Don't stereotype the females as the best bookkeepers, either. Once you know the true, instinctive strengths of each person, and work accordingly, it can become a great pleasure to share the joys of accomplishment.

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Q: Some business advisors now recommend working less to help you do more. How could that be true?

A: You have a limited amount of instinct-based energy, the drive to get things done. If you push yourself past the limit, you will be operating outside your conative talents and are likely to make lousy decisions. So limiting the tasks you take on actually allows you to focus on what you do naturally and more productively.

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Q: Will my Kolbe result tell me if I will be successful if I start a business?

A: NO. Your Kolbe results will list careers people with similar results have found success — and will explain why. It will also give you suggestions for the types of activities in which you will be making your best efforts, and which will most likely cause you stress. Depending upon the type of business and the MOs of the other people who are involved, your result may steer you toward or away from starting your own business. Be careful of wishful thinking making you misread the information.

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Q: When the stock market is down and layoffs all around us, isn't finding jobs that suit instincts a luxury we can't afford?

A: Finding a role that gives you the freedom to be yourself is a necessity you cannot afford to ignore. At least get as close a fit as possible, then work your way up — to the true success of having this most essential freedom.

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Q: How can I teach others in the organization to believe in conative abilities and understand how they should be used?

A: The best way to do this is to show positive results. An introduction to conation should go beyond being a feel-good session whether this takes place in a team setting or one-on-one encounters. What are your eventual goals? Are you trying to reduce turnover by using conative assessments in a screening process? Then you need to measure the turnover data after a reasonable period of time and show positive results. Are you trying to reduce cycle time of bringing a new product to market? ...reject rate on the assembly line? If putting a team together synergistically through conative abilitiesis your approach to these problems, demonstrating bottom-line results is the quickest way to gain credibility.

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Q: Given competence and desire, why do some people succeed brilliantly, while others are mediocre, struggle or fail?

A:  Competence, as measured by skill level, and articulated or even demonstrated desire to do the job are no guarantee that the job will get done well. If the natural talents or approaches to problem solving of the person in question simply don't match the required tasks, it will be difficult to perform consistently well over the long run.

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Q: OK, so we know about people's instincts. What's the big deal?

A: Mismatched jobs and instincts are the reasons for most workplace stress. We help organizations realize that understanding, maximizing, and leveraging instincts is the key to the success of all work groups, teams, and organizations.

We also help our organizations use information about instincts to save time and money and improve productivity by:

  • Making sure teams are composed of people with the right mix of complementary instincts
  • Finding the best hires
  • Helping individuals relieve stress and avoid burnout

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