mba professional dev I’m a big believer in the benefits of awareness, and specifically self-awareness, as a first step in just about any process. I also know that it helps to have a practical reason for wanting (or needing) that awareness. After all, there are times that the “ignorance is bliss” space feels very comfortable.

I’ve learned that talking about something in theory can be fun, mentally engaging and can facilitate understanding – it just doesn’t always result in a new action, change or improvement. Given all the demands on our time and all the responsibilities we have, why put the time/effort/energy into something that isn’t practical?

So when I engaged with the University of Georgia’s MBA program to incorporate the Highlands Ability Battery into their new student orientation, I knew I’d have to make sure the students not only learned about their natural abilities, I needed to make the connection between knowing about their abilities and then actually using them.

Prior to their formal orientation process on campus, the students participated in an introductory webinar (or listened to it on their own) about taking the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) and then took it on their own over the summer. Upon completion, each student received a customized report detailing their unique abilities, combinations of abilities, and even suggestions to career avenues to explore. During orientation, they attended a one-day workshop, the first half of which provided an interpretation of their results AND a connection to 5 practical reasons to know about, apply or use the awareness they gleaned.

So what practical reasons do MBA students have for knowing about their natural abilities?

  1. We made the connection between their natural abilities and specific behaviors – their strengths and their blind spots
  2. They were provided a direct connection between their measured abilities and work options to consider – where they could thrive
  3. They learned an objective, non-evaluative language to use when addressing individual differences
  4. They heard the value of incorporating complements of abilities as they created their 4-5 person teams
  5. They learned about a model they can use throughout their 2-year program to incorporate their abilities into their professional development and/or developing long-term goals

That’s a lot of “applying” information in one day! For the most part, students reported having a better understanding of their relative strengths. While they received confirmation/validation of some things, they also reported learning some new and/or valuable information about themselves. Overall, they felt it was well worth their time to take the HAB.

Students saw the immediate application the next day when Associate Management Professor Dr. Rodell facilitated a fun and engaging process for students to create teams using a wide range of self-report information and objectively measured abilities. Since the teams will work together throughout the year, it will be interesting to see how they continue to apply and use the self-awareness when working together.

And of course, much of the “application” of this knowledge is yet to come.