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My life as a PI Altruist

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Hey! My name is Karen Blair-Lamb, and I’m an Altruist. More on that in a bit, but let me first set the stage by telling you a little bit about myself.

I am an instructional designer at The Predictive Index (PI). Usually, when I say that, people give me a quizzical look that says, “I have no idea what that means,” so let me shed some light. I’m responsible for creating educational content for our clients and Certified Partner Network in Catalyst, our online community, education, and support hub. My focus is on digital, asynchronous learning, which is a fancy way of saying you can access training when it’s convenient for you, whether it’s through the use of templates, documents, videos, or eLearning. The training may be an introduction or even a refresher on how to understand and apply PI’s assessments and results throughout your workplace interactions.

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I work with a lot of different PI subject-matter experts throughout the instructional design process, and knowing their PI Reference Profiles helps me understand how best to interact with them so that we all remain happy (and sane) during the design process.

My behavioral pattern

The PI Behavioral Assessment essentially reveals where you fall on the spectrum of four workplace behavioral drives:

  1. Dominance: Dominance is the drive to exert one’s influence on people or events.
  2. Extraversion: Extraversion is the drive for social interaction with other people.
  3. Patience: Patience is the drive for consistency and stability.
  4. Formality: Formality is the drive to conform to rules and structure.

Here’s my pattern: 


To the uninitiated, that behavioral pattern may not mean a whole lot, which is where Reference Profiles come in. All behavioral patterns map most closely to one of our 17 Reference Profiles, which gives us a way to paint the picture of someone’s behavioral drives in broad strokes. You can think of these as easy-to-reference groupings of the characteristics of people who have similar drives.

“I am always ready and willing to help, even if it means doing work that I might not prefer.”

My Reference Profile is Altruist

When I first learned about my Reference Profile, I was surprised by how accurately it described me. I have completed other behavioral assessments during my career and mostly agreed with them but with some exceptions. This was the first time I completely agreed with my results and thought, “they get me!”

As an Altruist, my highest drives are extraversion (a need for social interaction) and formality (a need for rules and structure), which is definitely true. I love to collaborate and work with others, but with clear guidelines and expectations in place. I want to contribute without stepping on toes. As an Altruist I need to go over the details to make sure I have everything covered. My ideal work environment is one where I can work on a variety of projects with others in my organization, and have a firm understanding of my role in the project.

Altruist coming through!

Throughout my career, I have always held service-oriented roles because I’m always most satisfied with my work when I feel like I’m helping a client or colleague in some way or making a positive impact on the client experience.

I think my behavioral profile reaffirms why I’ve always enjoyed service roles and now instructional design. I’ve always tried to understand people’s different points of view, which helps when I am in the needs-analysis-and-design phase of my work. Altruists love collaborating, and for me, I love working together with subject matter experts and end-users. It’s important to me that those I am collaborating with feel heard and understood. We might not always agree, but I want those I work with to be comfortable with providing their opinion and feedback because it will only improve the end result.

I am always ready and willing to help, even if it means doing work that I might not prefer. This is because, as an Altruist, I want everyone and every project to be successful. I want all of us to work together to provide the best experience possible.


The dark side of being an Altruist

Like most things in life, there are always pluses and minuses. Truth is, for someone with high extraversion, I am a horrible self-promoter. Because it’s important for me to be a team player, I often work on other people’s projects to be helpful, but it’s work and effort that might go unnoticed by others. I would always rather celebrate the team or someone else than myself, so I don’t necessarily call attention to my contributions or successes.

Another challenge, depending on who you ask, can be my pace. Altruists are notorious for juggling multiple priorities. One of my colleagues has been helpful in reminding me to slow down. I like to talk and act quickly, which means I sometimes jump right into a topic and forget to provide any background or context, which others may need to understand. Shockingly, it turns out people can’t read my mind, so I am starting to try to make an effort to level-set and bring people along with me when I jump into a topic headfirst.

Altruists are sociable individuals. I like to chat and have trouble not inserting myself into or extracting myself out of conversations, so just give me the side-eye if it becomes too much and I’ll try to dial it back a notch. However, all bets are off if someone wants to talk about the latest show on Bravo or favorite desserts.

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How to work with (and manage) this profile

As an Altruist, I need my manager to give me clear expectations. This is where my need for structure comes in! I want to do a good job and make sure my work is in line with what my manager is expecting. Just know, when working with and managing Altruists, we need a lot of variety and the opportunity to work with different people. Working by myself or doing repetitive tasks makes for a long, unexciting day for me. I also like to talks things out, so my manager and team members have to be willing to brainstorm or bounce ideas around with me.

 “It’s exciting to work for a company whose product can often give people their aha moment.”

With PI, I have become more aware of myself and of others. I now understand why I can like someone socially but become frustrated working with them (and I am sure they feel the same) and how to work better with them to prevent that from happening.

An understanding of my Reference Profile has helped me be more comfortable in saying, “this is how I work best and what I need to be most effective.” It also allows me to recognize when I might not be the right fit for a project. I often work with highly conceptual people who reside at the “big picture” level, which is great, but I often find myself asking, “but what does the mean?” I am not trying to be challenging, just trying to better understand. I’m bought into the concept, but still need the details of the what, when, how, and why to feel comfortable moving forward. My Reference Profile explains why.

I am fortunate to work in an organization where we all speak the same language. I can tell someone I’m an Altruist and they understand my preferences and adjust their approach and vice versa. I don’t guess at someone’s Reference Profile, but when I find out what it is, I often think “Oh! That makes so much sense! Of course, you’re an Operator, Adapter, Artisan, etc.!” It’s exciting to work for a company whose product can often give people their aha moment.


Karen is an instructional designer at PI.

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