Here's a tool that may help your new employees fit with your old ones.

    You can't talk to a client of Dan Sullivan's Strategic Coach program ( without getting her Kolbe "label"-something like "5/6/6/3."I know this because one of my business partners is a Sullivan devotee and a Kolbe fan and, at his urging, I went online ( and took my own Kolbe A Index/Instinct Test for $49.95. That's me-I'm a 5/6/6/3 (each of four scores on a scale of one to ten).
    What's all this got to do with team-building? Once you understand the information you get about a person from his or her Kolbe A Index, you can use it to match that person with other personnel for more effective team performance. But there are some basics to understand first.
    To begin with, the Kolbe A Index is not just another personality or IQ test. It would be easy to confuse it with those other tests, though. Its results are reported in a manner similar to that of the widely used Myers-Briggs personality test, i.e., four sets of characteristics each illustrated by a corresponding spectrum of possibilities. (For example, one Myers-Briggs spectrum is the degree to which an individual is an introvert or extrovert). And the Kolbe Index is "related" to the world of IQ testing in that its founder, Kathy Kolbe, is the daughter of Eldon Wonderlic, developer of the Wonderlic Personnel Test, a short-form IQ test used since 1937 to describe the level at which an individual learns, understands instructions and solves problems.
    By contrast, the Kolbe A Index measures one's natural instincts. As David Kolbe , Kathy Kolbe's son and CEO of the Kolbe Corp., explained to me, "IQ tests tell you what you can do. Personality tests tell you what you want to do. The Kolbe A Index measures what you will or won't do.  "With this knowledge, one can maximize his potential and, with a knowledge of an entire team's set of Kolbe A scores, a manager could theoretically maximize the entire team's potential.
    To help me understand what the different parts of the Kolbe Index mean, David Kolbe took me on a "tour" of my own test scores.
    "A '5' score for the first attribute, Fact Finder, means you won't over-research something," he says. "If you were a '9,' you'd research the heck out of subjects, getting information you didn't even need. If you were a '1,' you'd write with a broad brush, giving the reader an impression but not all the minutiae. As a '5,' you'll roll with the punches; if you're assigned the occasional story requiring in-depth treatment, you can handle it."
    Kolbe went on to the second attribute, Follow Thru: "This describes how you deal with systems and structures, or order. If someone has a lower score, we say he's 'preventive' and, if a higher score, 'initiating.' Preventive Follow Thrus need to have the freedom to do things differently, and can put together things where there is no structure. Initiating Follow Thrus need to put things into a system or structure. If you were an initiating writer, you might have a template for stories that you tend to follow. As a '6,' you're what we call 'accommodating.' You won't necessarily go out of your way to create a structure but, if an editor said, 'Write to this style-it's what readers expect,' you could do it."
    Then, as a "6" Quick Start, I'd also be "accommodating?" "That's right," says Kolbe. "Quick Start describes how you deal with risk and innovation. A preventive will tend to stabilize things, keeping them from chaos. They want to be sure everything they're supposed to do gets done. They don't shoot from the hip or freelance. On the other hand, an initiating Quick Start will do things differently just to do them differently, which may be good or bad. For example, you don't want a commercial airline pilot to be initiating. As a '6' writer, you tend slightly toward the initiating end of the spectrum, meaning you will approach a story more as the story dictates rather than forcing your own viewpoint on the story. Very high Quick Start writers would tend to dabble in different styles and genres and probably tackle very different subjects every time they write; one time academic, another time humorous."
    My one decisively "initiating" or "preventive" score is my "3" as an "Implementor." "That explains how you deal with tactile, three-dimensional problem solving, or tools and implements," says Kolbe. "As a preventive implementor, you envision things rather than having to physically manipulate things. You don't need to build things with your hands. Your talent is that you can create things on a piece of paper. The downside is when it comes to doing stuff around the house." Kolbe's right-I'm not too fond of fixing broken toilets.
    To reiterate, these Kolbe scores talk about what people will do, not what they can or can't do. It should be apparent that this is critical to team-building. Sure, intelligence is important and knowing how people will interact personality-wise is notable, as well, but the Kolbe Index can tell you if you've placed someone in a position for which they're ill-suited.
    Alice Bryan, a principal with North Star Financial Consulting in Indianapolis, knows her own Kolbe A Index as well as that of her son and daughter. Not only has this knowledge helped Bryan evaluate work partners, it even confirmed her need to change professions. "Knowing my Kolbe score helped me understand that selling products was not innately how I best operated," says this former broker-dealer rep. "I was working against the grain," she adds. Bryan is now a Garrett Planning Network advisor working primarily with middle-market clients, a role she loves.
    But she's also used Kolbe to assess the success she'll have partnering with another individual with whom she's discussed working. "This other person took the Kolbe test and we seem to be an ideal fit," says Bryan. "She's initiating where I'm preventive, and visa versa. For example, I'm an 8 on Follow Thru and a 3 Quick Start. That's how I knew the Garrett network would be great for me, since I'm not good at starting things. This other person complements me with her scores since she's a 9 Quick Start and a 2 Follow Thru."
    But how does Kolbe work in a larger setting? That's where Kolbe parts B and C come in. "Part A is the analysis of one's conative talents," explains David Kolbe. "B is your analysis of what your job demands and C is very similar, except it's your direct supervisor answering the questions used in B." If B and C are different, that tells you there's a need to get the worker and supervisor together and have a conversation about why their assessments are different."
    Kolbe gives the example of a mid-level planner who's not responsible for client generation but for serving existing clients. "That job would typically have someone with a high Fact Finder score, someone obtaining information from or for clients. Clients might call that person with questions that require him to do research." But what happens, asks Kolbe, if his supervisor is thinking that to move up in the organization, this person should really start selling products and services rather than explaining to clients the changes in 401(k) regulations? If these two perceptions are different, they must be reconciled for the benefit of the team.
    Suppose there are ten people in your advisory firm, including three principals. The three critical questions, says Kolbe, are 1) How do they fit? 2) Are they in the right roles (which is still a look at the individual)? and 3) Do you have the right mix of people? "What we've found is we can't always tell if a team is going to be successful, but we almost always know if it will fail," he says, which gets to the third question. Even if the ten employees are smart and motivated, if they're not the right mix, it will become apparent within six months, says Kolbe.
    Around four years ago, when he joined the firm of LVM Capital Management Ltd. in Wheaton, Ill., Robert O'Dell persuaded his partners that everyone should take the Kolbe A Index. "We hired Kolbe to go over the results and explain each person's instincts. I was the odd one out with a high [initiating] Quick Start score. A few changes were made within the firm in terms of who should be working with whom, but for us, this exercise mostly confirmed some things we were already doing well."
    Perhaps the greatest benefit, says O'Dell, was the "AUR" that it brought-accept, understand, respect. "When I'm working with a high Fact Finder and Follow Thru partner, I no longer expect a quick decision from that person," adds O'Dell. He says the firm will also have new hires do the Kolbe A Index to make sure they satisfy the firm's need for the right fit and the right mix.
    To better facilitate these kinds of team assessments, Kolbe has developed a software product it calls Warewithal (, containing two modules. The first module, Team Tactix, helps with team building; the second, RightFit, helps with employee selection and retention. The objective of Team Tactix is to determine the likelihood that a particular team will succeed even before it starts working together. "Team Tactix doesn't guarantee success," says Kolbe, "but outside studies have been done that show the higher the score a team gets, the more likely it is to succeed."
    RightFit is used in hiring situations. It looks at existing team members' Kolbe A scores in conjunction with team supervisors' Kolbe C results to determine which job candidate is most likely to add to the team's synergy.
    "In general, the ideal team mix," says Kolbe, "is to have half of a team's talent in the accommodating, or mid-score, mode, and the other half evenly split between low and high, or preventive and initiating, modes. That's the 'top-line' analysis. Then you look for the right mix in each of your four action modes. This is what Warewithal does for you, so Kolbe clients don't have to be experts in how all this works."
    It seems to me this is pretty powerful stuff that more advisory firms should be using. And if you're just a sole practitioner, it may very well explain the areas where you really should get some help.

David J. Drucker, M.B.A., CFP, a financial advisor since 1981, now writes, speaks and consults with other advisors as president of Drucker Knowledge Systems. Learn more about his services at