Embracing Diversity in Your Team With the Kolbe System

Date published
A graphic of different-colored hands holding meshing gears illustrates how the Kolbe Method unlocks instinctual diversity and improves organizational functionality.

Using the Kolbe Method can unlock your team’s potential by amplifying diverse ideas and viewpoints. Here’s how.

Businesses that want to be successful need diversity. Committing to diversity in your organization helps your team members improve their performance, and ultimately, it supports the growth and profitability of your business. But a diverse team that isn’t assembled with thought and care can lead to personality clashes, frustration, retention problems, and other unwanted challenges.

Gender, ethnic, and age diversity are all necessary to widen the perspective through which your team approaches problems. Research indicates that companies with diverse leadership teams are also top financial performers. For example, businesses with gender diversity on executive teams are 21% more likely to have above-average profits

Similarly, companies with culturally and ethnically diverse executive teams are 35% more likely to have above-average profits. Diversity at the board of director level equates to a 43% likelihood of above-average profits. 

Diversity expands innovation and creativity in all aspects of your business. When you have a team of diverse people with unique perspectives, they will undoubtedly bring in different ideas, approaches, and viewpoints and it’s important to have a thought-out plan on how to successfully embrace diversity and get everyone working well together despite their differences.  

One modern approach to building and optimizing diverse teams is the Kolbe method. This guide provides an overview of how the Kolbe Method can help you unlock your team’s true potential and increase job satisfaction and retention.

The objective of the Kolbe Method

The Kolbe Method aims to optimize organizational performance by freeing people to understand their natural instincts and tap into their full potential. Many people feel they can’t be themselves in a business environment; their job requirements, coupled with cultural expectations, stereotypes, and biases, can stifle their freedom. Such an experience naturally leads to lower retention and higher absenteeism.

As a result, they hold back, preventing them from offering their best ideas or bringing their unique perspectives to the table. The Kolbe Method helps your team members get past these limitations in a way that supports their personal growth and that of the organization. It fosters an approach to teams that embraces each person’s true self and ideally puts them in a role where their natural instincts will be most beneficial.   

Why you should unleash your team members’ instincts

Everyone has a natural or instinctive way of taking action. But through time, they often learn to squash these instincts and act in socially prescriptive ways. They act not instinctually, but based on what they think is expected. The Kolbe Method helps people to understand their instincts and how their instincts influence their actions and skills at work. These findings also help leaders when building a productive team – where each team member has the opportunity to use their natural instincts to successfully complete their job tasks. After all, everyone deserves to do work they love and are good at. 

When building a team, you can’t just focus on cognitive skills and personality traits. You should also consider the characteristics of their natural instincts – known as their MO (mode of operation). The Kolbe A Index is a groundbreaking tool that will help you identify those traits and skills, and make them an asset for your organization.

Measuring instincts with the Kolbe A Index

The Kolbe A Index measures people’s instinctive approach to problem-solving. The index consists of four action modes and assesses how people operate in each one. 

The four modes are:

  • Fact Finder — how people gather information
  • Follow Thru — how people organize information 
  • Quick Start — how people deal with time and uncertainty
  • Implementor — how people look for tangible solutions 

Within each area, people either prevent, respond, or initiate. For example, if someone is a preventer in the Fact Finder mode, they prevent the rest of the team from getting bogged down in details. In contrast, if they are an initiator in this area, they look for details while researching. 

Responders are in the middle, adding specifics to generalities. They pare down details and weigh the pros and cons of the research strategy. 

Setting up diverse teams using the Kolbe Method

When constructing teams, you want people whose placement on the Kolbe A Index complements each other. For example, an initiator in the Follow Thru category needs systemic workflows. They crave a sense of order. These people are great at establishing detailed plans and systems – they are great organizers of information, and they love Gantt charts and spreadsheets.

However, a preventer in this category instinctively rebels against structure. They don’t want to get boxed in, and as a result, they will often see novel ways to adapt existing systems. Again, a responder strikes the middle ground. They can adjust existing systems when necessary, but they also work to maintain control and order.

Pulling the Kolbe information together

Once you understand your team members’ instinctive action modes, you need to consider how they integrate with your organization. The Kolbe B and C indexes help with this process. 

The Kolbe B Index measures people’s personal expectations about their job. A discrepancy between someone’s expectations and instincts helps you see where someone could be struggling in their current role.

For example, someone might assume that the “right way” to approach uncertainty is to control the chaos, but they may need a sense of urgency on an instinctual level. They may thrive when they face an unexpected challenge. In this situation, the person is an initiator in the Quick Start category, but they think they need to be a preventer. This expectation could come from former work experiences, or they may have developed this bias in childhood. 

By using the Kolbe Method, you can help this person tap into their full potential in a way that’s more satisfying and fulfilling. You help them see that they don’t necessarily have to control all the chaos or avoid tight timelines. Instead, they can embrace their instinct to find open-ended solutions and their ability to work well under pressure. 

Similarly, the Kolbe C Index finds discrepancies between managerial expectations and team member instincts. Using all three of these indexes together can be a great step toward putting together a team that works with maximal efficiency and minimal conflict and drama. 

You already know that your people are your greatest assets. To optimize their performance, you need to understand their unique cognitive and personal perspectives as well as their instincts for taking action. The Kolbe Method can play a significant role in this process. 

Contact 360Rocks to embrace diversity and unleash the potential of your team

At 360Rocks, we are committed to helping organizations embrace diversity in valuable ways. We offer a range of training programs that will help you unleash your team’s true potential. To learn more about the Kolbe Method or the other ways we can help, contact us today to set up a free discovery workshop with your leadership team.