Assessments & The Value of Seeing Yourself Through the Eyes of Others

The Value of Assessments is in Feedback – Not Your Own Self-Perception

Assessments are used for everything in today’s world. From assessments to determine cultural fit pre-hire, to assessments for capacity to learn, to assessments to determine your dating compatibility; as a society we’ve moved way beyond the Cosmo survey. We assess everything!

Despite the possible over-population of assessments as an evaluation strategy, many of these assessments provide valuable insights that drive real impact to both the assessed and the organizations requesting the evaluation. That’s because assessments (valid and reliable, research-based, behavioral-focused instruments like Social Style) help to formulate a more neutral and objective framing of a person’s capabilities and strengths. And without objective criteria, people could be judged on subjective preferences.

But not all assessments are created equal, and the differences in effectiveness can be drastic.

Assessment Tools: Self-Perception vs. Multi-rater

Self-perception assessments are often touted as a way to “know thyself,” since they supposedly provide insight about one’s behaviors or personality. In fact, these assessments only provide an estimate, or best guess, about oneself. That is because humans are flawed evaluators of our own behavior and personality characteristics. The self-perception bias prevents us from accurately understanding ourselves. In essence we are moderately delusional about ourselves.

So, how do we gain more accurate insight? Ironically it comes from getting input from others, in particular from people who know us well and who have spent time working with us. Modern research has found that multi-rater input provides a more accurate picture of behavior, and even personality, than self-perception. This is the flip-side of the self-perception bias – others can give us a more objective evaluation than we can of ourselves.

This insight that comes from others’ perspectives is crucial for working productively. It provides the starting point for “controlling ourselves.” That is, with knowledge of our behavior and the effects we have on others, we can control those aspects of our behavior that cause tension for others.

So, is self-perception assessment ever worthwhile? Yes, even though it doesn’t always provide truly accurate insight into oneself, it serves another valuable purpose. Simply by completing the assessment and reading survey items about behavior, a person is exposed to the objective elements of what behavioral style is all about (does the person lean in? or lean back? do they speak softly? or loudly? etc.). By beginning the process of understanding Style, a person can recognize how to observe others’ behavior and form opinions about their styles and preferences. In a sense, this helps to “know others.”

Not even all self-perception assessments are created equal!

SOCIAL STYLE, MBTI and DiSC all use assessment profiles in teaching their models. MBTI and DiSC self-perception profiles collect responses from the program participant only. SOCIAL STYLE programs typically are taught using a multi-rater profile, although self-perception assessments are an option. The most important distinction between these assessments is that MBTI and DiSC focus on aspects of personality while SOCIAL STYLE is behavioral – a much more objective and effective gauge of performance in professional scenarios.

One of the key downsides of personality-based self-assessment is that self-perception can change. Using a self-perception instrument provides information that looks exclusively inside the person at his or her own feelings, intentions and beliefs. While MBTI and DiSC tools intentionally measure subjective insight into what a person thinks about him or herself, those perceptions can change over a short period of time. Research conducted by Howes and Carskadon showed that a large portion of their participants retested much differently from their initial MBTI assessments, receiving very different type profiles. So the accuracy of the self-assessment is variable depending on the day it’s taken.

So, if self-perception has the potential to be inaccurate, why use them?

Self-perception profiles are typically convenient and inexpensive ways to introduce interpersonal effectiveness concepts, so they are often a go-to for organizations because they are easy to deploy, require less administration and in some cases support technology limitations or privacy requirements (implied in GDPR for example).


To know thyself – see yourself through the eyes of others – use Multi-rater Assessments for highest performance potential.

But hands down, the multi-rater assessment instrument adds considerable value to the insights gained by the assessed and by the organization. With multi-rater profiles, the colleagues of the participating employee complete a survey about the participant in addition to the participant’s own self-perception profile – then the results are shown side by side to evaluate the difference between how we view ourselves vs how others view us. By gathering multi-rater feedback, SOCIAL STYLE identifies how behaviors actually impact others. When individual self-perception is combined with others’ perceptions, a much more accurate picture of an individual’s working style and relationships is achieved. Thus, multi-rater more accurately helps individuals achieve the “Know Thyself, Know Others, Control Yourself and Do For Others” criteria that leads to breakthrough “Ah-ha’s” and opportunity to become a more Versatile and effective human.

This is especially important in developing leaders. Research from the Hay Group points out, “The higher people move up in an organization, the more likely they are to overrate themselves and develop blind spots that can hinder their effectiveness as leaders.” They have established a direct correlation between high performance and accurate self-awareness.

To support and improve leadership effectiveness – and performance across all levels of an organization – TRACOM offers multi-rater assessments across all of our programs. This includes SOCIAL STYLE for universal and managerial-specific audiences, as well as multi-rater assessments for gauging Versatility, understanding Behavioral Emotional Intelligence, evaluating Resilience and determining Personal Agility.

Consultants, L&D, HR and team leaders who would like to experience the impact and “Ah-ha” potential of the multi-rater assessments are invited to participate in a Program Showcase – these showcases are an opportunity for training leaders to sample the programs we offer as a participant including pre-training multi-rater assessments and access to micro-learning post-classroom tools. To learn more about Program Showcase, click here >>

The learn more about the Value of Multi-rater Assessments, read the research >>