Relating Kolbe and Trust

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The FPA Retreat 2012 conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., wrapped up this week—and a key take-away from the conference, the focus of which was “trust,” was that understanding your employees and clients helps you build trust with them. One method of understanding people that came up in two sessions I attended was through Kolbe assessments. These tests are used to discover people’s natural problem-solving instincts in order to draw out their innate talents.

Many planners already use the tool, or other testing instruments, to assess employee abilities or preferences or work style. Angie Herbers, a human capital expert for financial advisory firms, mentioned in her session on key steps to great employees that “Kolbe tests tell you how to communicate with each other; they are not meant to put your personality in a box.” Staff may be leery of company testing of personality traits but are more open to participating if they realize the purpose is to get at people’s motivations and comfort levels in an effort to facilitate a respectful and trusting work environment.

In a session at Retreat with Lewis Walker and Maria Forbes on how caregiving plays into holistic planning, Forbes, a team-performance expert, discussed the practical benefits of using Kolbe with clients. Particularly when there is a medical emergency and suddenly family care is needed, Kolbe can be used to test each family member’s innate abilities and organize duties accordingly, in what can otherwise be a chaotic and stressful situation. Forbes detailed the various roles family members often play when there is a serious medical event requiring long-term care—such as data gathering, planning, physical care—and how using tests like Kolbe can help place willing family members in the “right” roles to make the situation as manageable and smooth-going as possible.

So whether it be Kolbe or Myers Briggs or the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument or any other method for better understanding those around you, getting a clearer picture of clients and employees to ensure effective communication and build trust is a worthwhile investment.


Christina Nelson

Managing Editor
Journal of Financial Planning

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