In the mid-19th century, the field of psychometrics was born, and we now have different survey tools to let us get-to-know our fellow man and ourselves better. I have tested many of these tools, yet often found myself frustrated with the questions, as well as the results. How can I be an introvert one time and an extrovert the next on the same survey? How can the results be good when the available answers do not include the option I need? One survey took four hours to complete and for most questions I needed an “it depends” option that didn’t exist. For example, “Do you say hi to strangers in elevators?” What kind of question is that? Is it 7 a.m. after working an all-nighter and I have yet to shower – then it’s definitely a NO. At that moment, I would probably stare at the floor upon entry, baseball hat pulled low, pain behind my right eye, giving off the vibe that I have all the friends I will ever need. Or, on the other hand, is it 6 p.m. after a full day of laying on the beach in Florida in February, knowing it is 20 below back home – then the answer is YES. In fact, you might be hugged because life is awesome, and I love my fellow man! You get the point… it depends.
About ten years ago, our company made the commitment to find a tool that worked for us and to use its learnings to the fullest. We learned then that these tools have come a long way and there are many good options on the market. From our tool, the learnings about people has now become embedded into our company fabric. For instance, when conducting an interview, I look at your results and who you are – much closer than I look at your resume. The reason is – if I can understand who you are, your natural wiring, how God made you and someone raised you – I can better communicate with you on your terms, meeting your style (not mine). This is very powerful knowledge when one truly understands it and uses its advantages. The secret is to communicate with a person in the language that works how they receive information – not how you want to communicate.
Our tool allows me to better predict success in different types of roles. For instance, I desire a leadership team that sees the world from every angle, so we do not miss anything. This means I intentionally have a team of people that are wired differently. Yes, this causes a lot of dynamic tension, which is exactly what I want – smart people putting it all on the table.
My advice to any company, manager, or group leader, is to find a good tool and become a student of the tool and its learnings. Don’t say to yourself, “I think HR does something like that.” If that is the case, go ask HR for the results. Go get all the information on all of your team members. Ask HR to educate you on your tool and how to interpret the results accurately. You need and deserve this information.
How can a leader/manager be as best they can without knowing the wiring of his/her team members? How can they motivate a team when they don’t know how the team thinks and what their tendencies are? How can leaders/managers modify their style if they don’t know what style they need to use? If you have the information, you can accomplish these four important steps:
Clearly, you can tell that I believe in using a tool, and it is because of many years of experiencing the massive impact our tool has had on both our company as well as many of our clients.
Some of my most memorable experiences with clients have been sessions involving team building and organizational design. More specifically, the opportunities to characterize, in detail, a client’s entire team. In doing so, I have been able explain things like:
With a good tool, you can determine all of this from a person’s results. For fun, here are three of my most memorable moments:
I led a team building session for a client’s 30+ business analysts. When I reviewed the survey results with the client, she was very surprised when I suggested one BA seemed to be in the wrong role and would make a better fit as a technical architect. I had never met this person, and only knew this based on the survey results. She could not believe it and said this person had visited her office every week stating they should do architecture work instead. Her reaction to the accuracy was the usual, “I’ve worked with them for years and you have never met them, yet know them better than me!”
A client was embarking on a $40M initiative and I requested to survey the team. After analyzing the feedback, I presented the results to the management team. I shared exactly where I expected the team to struggle and pinpointed a critical role that was missing, which would in turn lead to failure. The team proceeded as-is and approximately 18 months and $20M into the project, the initiative was cancelled for the exact reason I had predicted.
A very large client wanted more information on their staff of 100+ sales people (and others involved in the sales process) and asked me to be the keynote speaker at their annual sales kick-off event. By the end of the hour-long presentation, we had 300+ people understanding and embracing the new learning and committed to using the information to make positive change. I was brought back to work with each sales manager to do a deep dive on each team and individual team member. The results have been incredible.
Over the years, I have had many of these types of moments with varying outcomes. Some are good – where people benefit from the information we provide and put it into action, and some that are not that great – the ones where the person doesn’t use the information and comes back later saying, “I should have listened.” One thing is clear to me, the learnings from these tools work… if you utilize it!
Companies, organizations and institutions exist for one reason - to meet the needs of a human being somewhere. Therefore the human being is the heart of all organizations. We create business to meet human needs. So, if everything revolves around meeting human being’s needs, shouldn’t we know as much as possible about them?
Thanks for reading!