Kolbe Test as Burnout Prevention Tool

The Kolbe test is primarily used as a hiring and team-building tool.
It measures the mode of operation of a person, which is the instinctive and natural way to do work (such as getting new ideas versus implementing existing ideas).

In team-building it is important to have people with different modes of operation in a team. This ensures that the team members complement each other, so that the team is optimally effective.

In hiring it is used to determine the roles which a person is best suited to.

But there is an aspect of Kolbe that’s equally as important:
One of the often overlooked aspects of the Kolbe mode-of-operation is that it costs a person a lot of energy to work outside his/her natural work instincts.
Often people are not aware of their natural instincts. So they just assume that it is normal that work exhausts them. After all that’s conventional wisdom about work in our society.

Especially young people have so much life-energy that they can work against their natural instincts for years in a row, without noticing it. And they even may produce great results doing so.

But when a person works against their natural mode of operation for too long, he/she drains him/herself of energy. This can lead to burnout or other severe health problems.

Of course burnout can have many causes, and most of the time multiple causes are at work simultaneously. Usually, working conditions, and mental health issues of that person are the first reasons that are named. Prevention usually focuses on working conditions. This is fine, and necessary, but it is only a part of the picture.

If people are unconsciously working against their natural instincts for a prolonged time, then even the best working conditions cannot prevent a serious drain of energy.

Therefore I suggest to measure the natural mode of operation of all employees, and let them work in their mode of operation most of the time. Even one hour per day in the opposite of the natural mode of operation can cause a severe energy drain. So, you need to let them work 95% or more of their time in their natural mode of operation.

If an employee already has a burnout, or is close to it, then doing a Kolbe test can reveal an important cause. Once you know the cause, it is usually obvious what has to change.

BTW, this does not only apply to employees. Entrepreneurs also should be aware of their natural mode of operation and make sure that they run their company such that they only work in their natural mode of operation. They can delegate the rest, or choose a business that only needs their natural mode of operation. This makes them more happy and energetic, and the grumpy boss syndrome will melt away fast. Which creates a better climate in the whole company.

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