“Not that smart. Not that hot. Not that nice. Not that funny. That’s me: I’m not that.” – John Green

Self-assessment is hard work. It requires one to dig deep and face herself with courage and a willingness to learn – to identify her strengths with humility and accept her weaknesses graciously. Effective self-assessment has the power to unleash new capabilities in individuals and teams and improve agency-wide performance.

Earlier this month we introduced two self-assessment tools that organizational development consulting firm Brighter Strategies uses when working with individuals and teams in nonprofit agencies. This article describes another one, and shows how our friend Jerry Miller used it in his role as a nonprofit manager of eight frontline employees. Next week we’ll conclude our blog spotlight on individual assessments with a look at a 360-degree assessment used by many OD consultants.

Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI)

Like the Strength Deployment Inventory, the TKI is an assessment tool that focuses on conflict. In particular, it evaluates behavior in situations when the concerns of two people appear to be incompatible. It describes such behavior on two dimensions:

  • Assertiveness: the extent to which the individual attempts to satisfy his or her own concerns
  • Cooperativeness: the extent to which the individual attempts to satisfy the other person’s concerns.

Brighter Strategies uses the TKI to uncover how one’s levels of assertion and cooperation define five methods of dealing with conflict. Although an individual assessment, this tool affects interpersonal relationships and is often used during teambuilding.

TKI at work

Just when Jerry thought he had mastered conflict management, a new challenge emerged. Within the course of a week, two of his employees approached him separately, each voicing detailed concerns about the other – and threatening to quit if the conflict were not resolved. Jerry knew he needed to bring in “the big guns” for this interpersonal conflict: This was a job for Thomas-Kilmann.

Jerry asked the two staff members to complete the assessment, which measures conflict handling modes as competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding, or accommodating. The employees learned that they both were highly assertive and uncooperative, putting them squarely in the “competing” camp. Not surprisingly, two power-oriented, competitive individuals are likely to butt heads when it comes to conflict. Yet when the staff realized that they didn’t get along well because of their similarities rather than their differences, they also understood how to treat the other better. They began to put their assertion to good use, worked on being more cooperative, and soon learned to collaborate effectively.

Jerry and his staff began to realize that conflict is not always negative. They learned to deal with team conflict constructively and – over time – to embrace new interpersonal differences as a means to learn about oneself, improve individual contributions, and ultimately increase collective performance.

Check back soon for the next installment in our Organizational Assessments blog series. For more information on how organizational development consulting firm Brighter Strategies can partner with you to implement such assessments in your organization, contact us at 703-224-8100.