The Kolbe Index: Focusing on your unique strengths


In the last blog, I shared why I feel that a formal assessment system is important for any organization hoping to place the right person in the right job – which is an essential element of a Great Workplace Revolution. Today, I want to begin by giving you more depth on the system my own company has been using with great success for the past 12+ years, that of Kolbe Corp. (


The Kolbe system is powered by a simple four digit summary that can (and, I believe, should) be rendered for any individual working for your team or applying for work for it. The summary is known as a Kolbe a ™ Index. I asked Kathy Kolbe, founder, how she would explain the index for someone unfamiliar with her work.

“The Index,” she said, “is designed to help you focus on your strengths, and thereby get a better understanding of how you do things when you are free to do these your own way. When you’re in the zone, in the glide pattern, when you are out of your relaxation mode and into your mode of striving for something, what do you do most and what do you do lest? How do you go about making decisions? What is your instinctive, preferred way of approaching a task? The Index answers these questions, and helps you celebrate your strengths by focusing on what you naturally do well.”

The Kolbe system does this by assigning numerical one-to-ten rankings in four ACTION MODES that reflect classic human problem-solving tactics. According to Kathy, understanding how we use these for M.O.’s – modes of operation – are essential to building and supporting any team.

“The Index,” she explains, “shows everybody on the team that everyone else is somewhere on the continuum in each of these four areas. Whoever you are is just fine for you. There is no good or bad, no right or wrong. Who you are is how you were meant to be. Understanding where you and others land in the four Action Modes means you are validating and celebrating strengths you can use in decision making that are always there for you and will always be there for you . . . recognizing that others have different strengths.

The four action modes that Kolbe a ™ Index measures go by the following labels:





In a future blog, I’ll be sharing more about Kathy Kolbe’s descriptions of each of these modes of operation.

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About Tom Klobucher

Tom has over 35 years experience in the contract office design and furnishing industry in various areas of sales leadership. He is the founder and CEO of Thomas Interior Systems, which he founded in 1977, with the corporate vision to “Improve the office Work Environment.” As one of the most experienced Herman Miller dealers in the Midwest (and one of the largest in the country) , Thomas Interior Systems is headquartered in Bloomingdale, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, and is three time award winner of the Top Twenty Best Places to Work in Illinois. In addition to founding Thomas Interior Systems, Inc. Tom Klobucher founded The Total Office in 1999. This collaborative alliance of over 20 companies offers complete, one-stop transition solutions for companies in the position of moving, expanding, or opening new businesses. He is a past member of the board of directors of the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. and also served as the 75th President of the Elmhurst, Illinois Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He has been a member of the Chicago Chamber of Commerce and Industry for more than twenty years. He holds board positions in other profit and not-for-profit organizations in the Chicago area as well. Mr. Klobucher has been an outspoken advocate for Creating Great Places to Work, and improving the office work environment for American Business. He has also advised many Chicago area businesses and has been an active speaker and writer on these subjects. His new book, “The Great Workplace Revolution,” was published by Nextis Press in January of 2012
Posted in: Recruitment & Retention.

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