Champions Guide: Facilitation & Coaching with PrinciplesUs (Beta)

Table of Contents


Introduction: How to use this Guide

PrinciplesUs is designed in a way where users can learn and gain insights about themselves, their interpersonal dynamics, and team composition with a self-directed approach. However, we have found that while people 'intellectually' understand the value of understanding yourself and others in this way, the experience of actually welcoming others to understand more about you --your personal preferences, strengths, and growth areas-- can be challenging as it requires vulnerability.  An informed facilitator can maximize learnings by carefully curating the activities and the reflection prompts that create the psychological safety necessary to begin the process of self and team discovery. 

There are a couple ways to guide your team through a PrinciplesUs experience:  

  1. Self-Directed:  You can provide the necessary resources/background materials and socialize any one of the reflection exercises from this Guide for people to complete on their own time. Be sure to encourage them to share learnings even if you're not organizing a dedicated session.
  2. Bite-sized Team Building Activities: Pick 1-2 of these exercises at a time and incorporate them into a weekly team meeting. Have your whole team participate and reflect together. What are the 1-2 takeaways and practical insights that you can incorporate into your team’s day to day?
  3. Workshop: We have found it to be most effective when teams dedicate a 60-90 minute session to go over their personality results and team profile together with the guidance of a facilitator. 

This Guide will focus on the Workshop experience and will offer exercises, simple facilitation techniques, and a high-level outline of a workshop that you can follow to guide your team. Below, you will find the core modules of this facilitated PrinciplesUs experience. These modules and exercises can be used in a self-directed way or as an organized group activity:

  • Pre-work, including the completion of PrinciplesUs Assessment, review of background materials, and a personal reflection exercise.
  • Personality Assessment Fundamentals, including a facilitated review of the background materials for a robust understanding of the nuances of personality results (getting into the “personality mindset,” review of Assessment report structure, interpretation of key trait scales) and structured personal and team discovery exercises to deepen the learnings.
  • Discover Your Relationships and Work Better Together
    • Interpersonal Relationships, including a one-on-one reflection exercise with the PrincipleUs Compare feature to reflect on results and actionable insights with your closest colleagues.
    • Team Dynamics, including overview, facilitation tips, and exercises for your team’s exploration of the three PrinciplesUs group visualizations: Trait Scales, Archetypes, and Team Profiles. 

Now let’s take your team members on a self and team discovery journey! 

Want More Support?  We offer a Foundational Certification program for HR professionals and practitioners who are seeking a more in-depth understanding of the training and tools needed to effectively administer PrinciplesUs to teams of all sizes. Our program teaches you about the science and research behind the assessment, how to interpret assessment results, and how to help teams leverage the insights the test provides to improve relationships and maximize team potential. To learn more, visit our website at https://principlesus.com/get-certified.

The PrinciplesUs Experience 

Personal and Team Discovery Workshop Outline

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The rest of this Guide will go over this proposed outline and provide simple facilitation techniques and exercises that you can use along the way. Ultimately, your goal as a facilitator is to lead out personal and team-discovery and have people crystallize 1-3 takeaways to show up and interact most effectively. You do this by bringing awareness to people’s expressed preferences and how they relate to one another, and guide them to use that knowledge to improve how the group gets things done together. In service of that goal, these modules and associated exercises can be offered in sequence in the context of an organized group activity or individually or asynchronously. Feel free to skip around the document, skim the supporting materials, and direct your focus on any of the exercises, indicated with an * next to them in the outline above, if you’re simply looking for a couple quick things you can do with your team to get started.


Prework

Before kicking off with Principles Us, you will want to communicate the reasons why you’re doing a personality assessment exercise with your team, the ways in which your team will benefit from a tool like PrinciplesUs, and if/how the assessment will be used in an ongoing way at your company. In your communications, you may also want to emphasize why you’re using PrinciplesUs and how it’s differentiated from other assessments you may have used in the past such as Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, or DISC. Read more about the PrinciplesUs Assessment and its Research & Development.

First and foremost, instruct participants to complete their PrinciplesUs Assessment. It’s preferable to allow for a couple days between assessment completion and the workshop so that your team members have ample time to review their in-depth report and come prepared to the session with any questions. 

Our personality experts designed a Personal Discovery Reflection Exercise to help people step back from—and look more closely at—their PrinciplesUs Assessment results. It helps people use their new perspective on personality to come up with practical, actionable insights. As part of the prework, consider requiring the completion of this exercise and/or pose reflective questions that get people to think more deeply about their results. Ask, “In your initial reading of your report, what seemed true about you? What are you curious to learn more about?”.

As an additional resource, you may want to make some background materials available to the participants. The two videos that we recommend are:

  • Dr. Adam Grant on Self-Awareness and Career Success: In this quick 5-minute video, Dr. Adam Grant, Organizational Psychologist at Wharton and Co-Creator of the PrinciplesUs Assessment, talks about getting into a helpful mindset for approaching personality assessments and how those assessments can be powerful tools for personal reflection and reflection with others.
  • How to Interpret and Reflect on Your Results: In this two-part video series (16 minutes), our Chief Experience Officer, Zack Wieder, walks through the structure of the assessment and gives perspective on how to approach interpreting and reflecting on your results.

 

Module 1: Personality Assessment Fundamentals 

Note - Our Chief Experience Officer Zack Wieder’s two-part video series “How to Interpret and Reflect on Your Results” covers the Personality Assessment Fundamentals section of the workshop outline. As noted earlier, we recommend sharing this video with your team in advance and then simply recapping the important points, shared below, during the workshop. If you’re looking for a couple quick exercises to get your team started, refer to the Check-in Reflection (Getting into the Mindset) and Personal Discovery Exercise (How Traits Help or Hinder You) called out in this section.
 

Getting into the “Personality Mindset”

An important first step to using PrinciplesUs at your company is to get your team into the “personality mindset.” One of your overarching goals when facilitating should be to create a psychologically safe environment for people to talk about what they are really like.  The most effective discussions and learnings happen when people feel like they can be vulnerable. To set the stage, let your team know that personality, at its essence, is the set of tendencies you carry around with you. While traits are not destiny, they are important anchor points, and your comfort zone. It’s about finding balance within yourself and with others to do what you need to do. Most importantly, there are no right and wrong answers when it comes to assessing personality: it takes all types.

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The PrinciplesUs Assessment Journey

Guideposts for Your Report

The PrinciplesUs report is organized into 3 parts:

  1. Your Archetype: This section summarizes the patterns of your results. Review your top three archetypes, as well as the archetypes you’re least like.
  2. Your Orientations: This section covers your three orientations (Cognitive, Interpersonal, and Motivational), each with detailed scores across 17 traits and 41 facets. 
  3. You in Context: This section provides practical insight into how your personality preferences (combination of your attributes) may play out in a variety of work and life situations.

How to Read Your Scores

A couple things to note:

  • Each trait lies on a continuum.
  • The results follow a normal distribution, which is expected with large populations. As such, most people's results will fall in the middle. This can be adaptive at work and in life by allowing one to flex across the trait continuum.
  • Preferences are relative to population percentiles.
  • There’s nothing inherently good or bad about scoring in a particular way.


Reflecting on Traits

In Part 2 of this 2-part video series (also linked above), our CXO Zack explains how Traits and Facets work in more detail, with an emphasis on the traits Tough, Flexible, and Extraverted. 

The PrinciplesUs Assessment report is your main resource to get a better understanding of the 17 core Traits and 41 Facets of personality. The interactive report has detailed descriptions for each trait including the likely tendencies of those with high and low scores, together with a tailored readout of your preferences based on your specific percentile. You can also find descriptions for each of the facets in the Assessment report.

As a resource to our facilitators, our Assessment experts built this packet of Trait Patterns (Beta) that introduce opposing descriptors for each of the 17 Traits. Because each trait lies on a continuum, our users have found it helpful to have descriptors for both ends of the trait spectrum instead of using the language of "low" and "high" results. As an example, for our Creativity scale we use the descriptor “Creative” for those with a high preference toward creativity and “Traditional” for those with a lower preference.  Similarly, with our Deliberative scale, we can begin to think of those with a high preference as “Deliberative” and those with a low preference as more “Intuitive” (though note that our scales are constructed unidirectionally; meaning, on the Creative scale we're really only measuring one’s preference toward Creativity and the use of “Traditional” in this case is simply meant to be descriptive. As such, you won’t see these descriptors in the PrinciplesUs tool).

The opposing descriptors are especially effective when using a strengths-based approach to talking about the trait scales. This approach helps emphasize that wherever you are on the scale there are strengths and growth areas to consider. To get them in the mindset, ask your team to do some thinking around what strengths someone might have if they score “very low” on a trait. During that discussion, refer to the strengths and growth area quadrant sheets from the Trait Patterns packet as needed. Along similar lines, pay attention to using the language of high/low affinity, preference, comfort, connection, etc. versus high/low scores.

When facilitating a session, clicking down into a few traits and reviewing their trait patterns with your group brings helpful focus to people’s initial understanding and reflection on the traits. You can focus on the same 3 traits (Tough, Flexible, Extraverted) as Zack from the video linked above or choose other ones from the Trait Patterns Library that are more relevant and closely aligned to your group. After your review, we recommend that you break out the participants in your session into groups of two to three for a 10- to 15-minute self-discovery exercise that follows. Remember to adjust the exercise traits to reflect the trait patterns you choose to review with your team.

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Module 2: Discover Your Relationships and Work Better Together

Interpersonal Relationships

The Interpersonal Relationships module utilizes the person-to-person comparison feature of PrinciplesUs to see how personalities comprise and affect your team at work, and how you can use that knowledge to improve how you get things done together. Going through the “Team-Discovery Exercise - Explore Personalities” below, in a matter of 5 to 10 minutes you’ll end up with a short list of relevant insights about your work relationships and a toolkit for reflecting on and getting the most out of them. 

You can do the exercise either in the context of your workshop or independently with one or more coworkers. In our experience, it flows nicely from the earlier Team Dynamics module and the Trait Scales team-discovery exercise, and you don’t need full team participation to get value from the exercise. If you’re facilitating this exercise as part of a workshop, we recommend that you go through one example pair with the whole group to “teach them how to fish,” meaning the group can observe and learn from your facilitation approach, the way you encourage the pair to reflect and give feedback to each other, and how you navigate the exercise to distill three to four actionable insights. Then, break them into pairs to go through the exercise on their own. Regroup at the end and take a couple of minutes to have the pairs share insights and action plans with the full group. Allow time for feedback and reactions and encourage the pairs to update their takeaways if appropriate. 

Optionally, if you want to continue the exercise to allow people to pair up with different partners, have them pick someone else on the team and complete the exercise with that partner. In this round, have them incorporate thoughts and observations from other people’s presentations into their discussion. Then, have them present again, shuffle partners, and repeat the exercise one more time. Three repetitions should be plenty for most teams and team sizes, but feel free to re-shuffle and repeat again if it’s useful!

Note: For a functional review of the Compare feature of PrinciplesUs, please refer to the PrinciplesUs User Guide found here.

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Team Dynamics (Trait Scales, Archetypes, and Team Profiles)

Using the PrinciplesUs Groups functionality, you can create dynamic visualizations for your team across Archetypes, Trait Scales, and Team Profiles. 

These visualizations allow you to see how different personalities exist within and affect your team, and how you can use that knowledge to improve how you get things done together. When reviewing your team views within the context of an organized group activity, a focused process of exploration and a series of effective prompts can help you arrive at insights about your work relationships and develop a toolkit for reflecting on and getting the most out of them. 

Trait Scales

Let’s start with Trait Scales.

The Trait Scales visualizations allow you to see how your group is distributed across the 17 PrinciplesUs Assessment traits organized under the 3 orientations. There will likely be traits you have in common and others where you differ. Some distributions may provide balance for the group while others can present challenges. Being aware of how you relate to one another can help you interact most effectively.

When facilitating team reflections with these visualizations, you’ll want to focus your team’s attention on the shape of the distribution of your group (clustered, extremes and differences, balanced) and where the group average falls relative to the typical range, accounting for high and low group affinities. You may also see cases where an individual’s score is marked as “Notable,” meaning it diverges significantly from the group, and this is another good opportunity for reflection and facilitation to pull that individual into the conversation with their unique experience of the team. Refer to the below list for our recommended team discovery prompts:

Reflection: Are you clustered, more balanced, or are some team members different or at the edges of the range?

If clustered, reflect:

  • Does the team have a general tendency in one direction or another? What might that say about where you might be strong? 
  • Where might it leave a gap in the team? 
  • Are there individuals that are notably different from each other? What’s one way you may accommodate their different styles? How can those differences benefit you in your interactions?

If different or at the edges of the range, reflect:

  • In what contexts might these differences play out? Are there tensions that might arise from those differences? Can being aware of differences help mitigate tensions? 
  • What’s one strategy those who are different can use to engage or communicate more effectively?

If balanced, that can be a great strength if engaged properly. Reflect:

  • What’s one strategy those who are different can use to engage or communicate more effectively?
  • What are one or two strategies for leveraging different strengths? Can more moderate team members help bridge those gaps?

When reviewing the Trait Scales with your team, you may choose to focus your facilitation on a select set of traits, either because they are important or relevant to your team culture or reveal interesting clustering or extremes, or you may choose to review an orientation, such as Interpersonal, trait by trait. Optionally, have the Trait Patterns sheets handy for the traits on which you’re focusing. Remember, your goal when reviewing the Trait Scales is twofold: to bring awareness to people’s expressed preferences and how you relate to one another via traits you have in common or where you differ, and to crystalize one to three takeaways to help you interact most effectively. Our recommended simple exercise for an initial exploration of the Trait Scales is as follows:

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Ultimately, your goal with this exercise is to bring awareness to people’s expressed preferences and how you relate to one another, and to use that knowledge to improve how you get things done together. If you want to look at other traits you can repeat that process and choose from the broader list of reflection prompts. Wrap up the Trait Scales exercise with a second self-discovery breakout exercise in groups of two to three. 

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Archetypes

Now let’s look at Archetypes.

The Archetype Island visualization highlights the relative concentration of archetypes on your team across the various archetype islands. Darker greens indicate the team has a relatively higher concentration of the archetypes on that island compared to lighter greens, which show a lower representation. The relative placement of the islands is important to note, as the distance on the map corresponds roughly to overall personality differences, and the trait names between the islands are a rough guide to the characteristics that define them. 

The Archetype Island visualization is particularly useful for noting some overall group tendencies. It’s also a helpful tool to identify individuals who have unique gifts in areas where the overall group shows a lower representation. Click on any island to see a description of that archetype group, the supporting archetypes, and any individuals with those archetypes as their top archetype. Click on the islands where the group trends “very high” and “high,” and note from the descriptions how these attributes play into your group strengths. Next, click on the islands where the group trends “very low” and “low,” and note from the descriptions how these attributes might be good for your group to watch out for. Note individuals whose top archetypes are in these “very low” and “low” islands and facilitate a group reflection on the ways in which these individuals can help establish balance within the group.

  • Discuss strategies that those who are different can use to engage or communicate more effectively. What’s one way you can accommodate their different styles? How can those differences benefit the team in group collaborations? 
  • Reflect on contexts where these differences may play out and tensions that might arise from those differences. Can being aware of differences help mitigate tensions? 

Team Profiles

Finally, let’s look at Team Profiles.

Team Profiles helps you look at the composition of your team in the context of a specific area of focus. All teams adopt different areas of focus at various times, and it can be useful to be aware of how your preferences match that area of focus. In our Team Profiles, we’ve selected 8 common areas of focus for teams and matched them to a collection of traits that research shows can be relevant to success in those contexts. These contexts include: Competitive, Creative, Customer Focused, Entrepreneurial, Problem Solving, Risk Management, Sales, and Strategic. These are primarily meant as points of reflection that can help teams be aware of their overall tendencies, the tendencies of the individuals in the team and how they relate to the activities relevant to each of these profiles - they can help show areas that you might be in your “comfort zone” as a team or you might be required to stretch beyond your natural preferences as a team, as well as who you might draw on within the team for specific needs in those contexts.

By expanding the Profiles, you can see how your group compares to the target ranges. Each expanded view includes a definition of that Profile, its primary traits, and your group’s Trait Scales for those primary traits so you can compare your group average and distribution against the target ranges. 

Expanded Profiles also include write-ups for Team Challenges. Just like how an individual may need to consider strengths and growth areas/blind spots depending on where they fall on any given Trait scale, the same is true at a group level. You may find that certain members of your team can help balance the team in those areas (see example below).

Lastly, you can review Leader Characteristics - archetypes that would make for good leaders for teams with this particular Profile who will be uniquely suited to balance likely team tendencies and blind spots.

When reviewing Team Profiles with your team we recommend focusing on the following observations:

  • Consider where your team falls relative to the ranges of the Primary Traits within your desired Team Profile. For instance, a high affinity for Extraversion is noted as important for a team with a Sales focus. Extraversion may be a useful trait because it means you're likely to have a lot of comfort and desire for engaging with other people. While that doesn’t mean that everyone on the team has to be that way, the further your aggregate team preferences are from that direction, the more the elements of the profile that require those behaviors may be uncomfortable. Once you see that you can ask: Is that an area of strength or weakness relative to this Profile for our team?  
  • People will be different on different traits, so ask: When we need to have this focus as a team, who might we draw upon for different aspects? As individuals, take a look at your own trait preferences and reflect on areas that are within your comfort zone versus what might be a stretch. Are there others on your team that can help balance you? For instance, if you are an Introvert you might click with lots of other traits related to a Sales focus, like Determination, but may have to get past some discomfort with a lot of social interaction. That's worth being aware of in yourself and also knowing others who might be good partners at the times where more social interaction is required. Additionally, if you look at the “team challenges” section, there are risks with highly Extraverted groups around how a strong preference for social interaction can come at the expense of listening and reflecting effectively. This is an area where more introverted members of a team may provide balance. Remember, the goal isn’t for everyone to have every attribute in the same way - in fact, the diversity of the team will be a strength in accomplishing the different activities all teams need to focus on at different times. The goal is being aware of the different preferences in your team and how you can use those effectively to succeed together.

To sum up, It's much less about whether your team is good or bad overall at this thing, and instead more about: 

  1. What are some traits that might be important,
  2. Where might they be most important? (i.e. how do they connect to the actions/activities associated to that Profile), and
  3. What reflections does that give you in terms of how you can be most effective at times when you'll want to focus on the particular activities described in that Team Profile.

 

Check-out

At the end of the workshop experience make sure to set aside time for a reflection moment so that you create space for your group to reconnect to the goals of the exercise and walk away with at least one takeaway that they can immediately apply to their day-to-day life. Reiterate your goals with the ongoing use of assessments by your team, to understand yourself, understand others, and welcome others’ to understand more about you. Encourage reflections with the following prompt, and note that you can combine this reflection exercise with any of the other self- and team-discovery exercises from this document even when you’re not conducting all the activities sequentially as a workshop.  

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