Why It Makes Sense to Have Your Team Members Take the MBA Inventory

April 24, 2023 9:00 am Published by

People often ask: “What is a good way to find out how your colleagues like to be shown appreciation?” 

What Doesn’t Work

Let me share a couple of ineffective ways to learn how your coworkers like to be appreciated, and then explain the best solution we’ve found. First, asking, “If I want to show you appreciation, what would you like me to do?” is a bad idea – largely because this is a weird conversation to have in most relationships. Also, you won’t typically get much useful information.  Most people just respond, “I don’t know – tell me ‘thanks’ when I do something.” And that is about all you get.

Secondly, while in personal relationships observing how a person likes to be loved (or what they ask for) is possible, there aren’t enough ‘data points’ (example situations) in workplace relationships to be able to make a judgment.

And finally, even if you know a person’s primary “love language” in personal relationships, we have found that only about two-thirds of the time a person’s primary love language is the same as their preferred appreciation language.

Important Variables to Consider

Over time, we have learned that a few core issues are important in order to correctly identify the ways others want to be shown appreciation. First, you need to get their appreciation language right. This seems like an obvious step, but it’s one which is often skipped over by managers, supervisors, and colleagues. Many people assume that their colleagues like to be appreciated in the same ways they are. Even if you were to guess the most commonly chosen appreciation language (Words of Affirmation), you would be wrong over 50% of the time.

A key second lesson (unique to work-based languages of appreciation) is that just knowing a person’s appreciation language isn’t sufficient you also need to identify the specific actions important to them within their primary language. For example, Cynthia may be encouraged by words but she doesn’t want attention called to her in public; she values a personal note. Similarly, James’ language is Quality Time but he isn’t really that excited about time with his supervisor; he’d definitely prefer going out with his close colleagues after work.

Being sure you know from whom the person wants which actions is also important to determine. While Jayden would enjoy having some of his colleagues over to watch a game together this weekend, he would feel weird having his supervisor show up. Or, Lia may value receiving a hand-written note of encouragement from one of her female colleagues, while receiving that type of note from her married male supervisor would definitely feel awkward.

What the Expanded Motivating By Appreciation Inventory Gives You      

In development for over 13 years, and taken by over 375,000 individuals across the globe, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory provides an individualized report that guides your coworkers and leaders in knowing how to express appreciation to you in the ways uniquely meaningful to you. Your MBA Inventory report identifies your primary and secondary languages of appreciation, as well as your least valued language. Additionally, you are able to share the specific actions most meaningful to you and from whom you desire which actions. Our Expanded MBA Inventory also compares your results with the preferences of the general population, and gives you the opportunity to share the single most important way others can communicate appreciation to you. Of critical importance, you are also able to identify the ways you don’t want to be appreciated – so others can avoid embarrassing you (or wasting time and energy doing things you don’t like).

In addition to each person receiving an individual report, group summary reports can be created that summarize the results for teams of various sizes, including the languages and preferred actions for each team member.

How the MBA Inventory Differs from Other Work-based Personality Tests

We have actually conducted research with the DISC personality assessment, and an online version of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. We found that the MBA Inventory assesses very different behaviors and preferences than these personality assessments and can actually be used together for a clearer picture of the person. We have not yet completed research with other measures such as Lencioni’s Working Genius assessment, StrengthFinders, the Enneagram, or the Color Test. But we are consistently given feedback by MBAI users that the results we provide are valued because they are easy to understand, simple to remember, and practical in daily work relationships.

Tailored to a Variety of Situations

In addition to being available in numerous languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Mandarin and others), we have pursued making the inventory practical and relevant in a wide variety of work situations. As a result, we have created version of the inventory to be used in government agencies, schools, medical settings, by trades professionals, in non-profit organizations, in the military, in senior care settings, by veterinary clinics and (most recently) in dentistry practices.  Additionally, we have a special version designed to be used with remote employees.

We are proud and excited to have our inventory taken by over 200 employees every work day, and hope you will join the thousands of others in finding them to be helpful in learning how to show appreciation to those with whom you work!


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Published by
April 24, 2023 9:00 am

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