Category Archives: HR Assessments

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How to use competency frameworks for business success

Competency frameworks effectively define the skills, behaviors, and soft skills an employee needs to be successful, both in a specific role and within the organization. These frameworks are just one of a number of tools HR can use for people-driven performance management, hiring, and team building, but with their focus on capabilities, they’re also one of the most important.

A competency is the sum of a set of skills, knowledge, abilities, attributes, experience, personality traits, and motivators. Once your organization maps the competencies desirable in a role, you can find stronger hires based on skills assessments, make more informed development choices, and deliver the necessary training to help people fill skills gaps, either in their current role or a future one. Essentially, competency frameworks integrate into hiring, leadership, performance management, and much more.

What is a competency framework?

A competency framework defines abilities and masteries that contribute to an individual’s ability to do their job well. This framework should exist at both an organizational and an individual job level. It should also enable recruiters to identify people who are a strong fit for specific roles, while giving managers the tools to assess behavior and production, set goals, and make organizational decisions. Competency frameworks are most often used in recruitment, for evaluations, and for employee professional development.

How do you define a competency?

Competencies are specific behaviors or traits that contribute to a person’s ability to do their job well. Underlying characteristics can predict behavior in a variety of tasks and skills, such as a person’s ability to analyze situations quickly and perform well under stress. Competencies include characteristics, related knowledge, skills, and attributes, all of which play a role in job performance. For example, competency frameworks typically answer questions like:

  • What are the job’s expected outputs?
  • What behaviors will lead to the expected outputs?
  • What knowledge, skill(s), and ability(ies) will lead to the expected outputs?

A competency framework can be defined at an organizational level with broad competencies, and at a role level with specific competencies.

Organizational competencies

Organizational competencies are core masteries that define what the organization requires of its employees to succeed and how it expects overall goals to be accomplished. Most organizations define 15 to 25 competencies that lay out how employees are expected to act, and common traits everyone needs to succeed. These remain the same across the organization.

Common organizational or core competencies include:

  • Agility
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Integrity
  • Customer centricity
  • Strategic perspective
  • Resilience
  • Innovation
  • Teamwork
  • Personal leadership

These traits define a company culture of behavior and mastery that allows employees to meet the organization’s expectations.

Technical and behavioral competencies

Technical and behavioral competencies, also known as individual competencies, must be defined on a role level and applied to individuals. They map the skills and behavioral traits necessary to succeed in individual roles and so must be defined accordingly.

Technical competencies – Technical competencies are what a person can do, including hard skills and specific know-how. For example, an IT role would need someone with a strong knowledge of system security, specific software or platforms the organization uses, etc. But they would also require certain behaviors to be successful in that role.

Behavioral competencies – Behavioral competencies express how an employee performs in their role. While organizational competencies are broad and high level, these define individual behaviors that apply to the role. For example, an IT person might need attention to detail, empathy, quick thinking, problem-solving, and a good memory to perform well in their position. Some organizations further split these into interpersonal competencies as well. 

Defining competencies and how they apply to both the role and the organization is a crucial part of developing a competency model. Individual competencies must be defined as technical and behavioral, and organizational competencies must apply to every employee across the company.

Why to use a competency framework

The main benefit of implementing a competency framework into an organization is improved performance. A framework outlines the skills and behavioral traits an employee needs to excel at their job, making it easier to identify those who have the correct traits, skills, and behaviors for certain roles.

This allows you to define what “good” work looks like at every level of the organization, highlighting both how the organization works and how employees can meet the needs of their roles. More importantly, a clear competency framework lays out both what an employee should be able to do and how to do it.

A good competency framework enables HR to hire the right person for the job based on core behavior traits, which increases hiring accuracy, reduces job turnover, and boosts performance.

The process of creating and integrating competency frameworks can be intimidating, long, and costly. However, if you’re considering competency-based hiring or performance management, know that it will pay off. While the actual value of competency frameworks depends on their quality and how well they’re integrated, there are numerous benefits for organizations overall. From recruiting and assessments to performance management and succession planning, competency frameworks play a significant role in the businesses that employ them.

Success defined

Competency frameworks allow you to define success in a role and in your organization. If you can highlight the behaviors that are necessary to make strong achievements in your organization, you can streamline hiring. And, if you’ve defined what success looks like in each role and function of your organization, you can improve performance management. In short, you create a map for job expectations, career paths, and performance measurement by which you can measure, reward, and promote workers.

Improved processes

When you know what you’re looking for, the target capabilities and skills you need, and the behaviors that perform well in your role, hiring becomes smoother along with internal processes and even succession planning. Any employee-based program is automatically based on the existing framework, helping you to set targets, establish goals, and better define candidates. This also speeds up processes because, rather than redefining what’s needed from a candidate each time and getting leaders to agree on targets, they’re already set down.

Big-picture mindset

Hiring with a competency-first mindset instead of a drive to fill a position or some other sense of urgency means you’ll hire highly qualified team members who will fit in with the organization. In the long term, these are team members who’ll be useful even as your organization grows and changes. This results in fewer hiring mistakes and helps you create a team that can see the big picture.

Qualified hires

Competency-based HR pays special attention to the people who can do a job well and catalogs their characteristics and behaviors. This leads to more qualified hires, because you know the skills and behaviors that have been proven to do well for a role.

Enjoyable workplace culture

Competency includes workplace professionalism and the ability to remain calm and communicate well. Since attitude is taken into consideration, you’ll find yourself working in a team that’s overall more enjoyable to interact with.

Better problem management

You’ll also build a team that has good problem-solving skills. This includes resolving internal conflicts, issues with a project, and complaints from clients. Competency-based HR actively searches for candidates with the best problem-solving skills compatible with the issues your organization commonly faces. This results in better informed decisions and fewer escalating problems.

Set clear expectations

Using a competency framework allows you to outline employee expectations clearly, which in turn improves communication and performance. By defining competencies, you can:

  • Ensure training and professional development is target based and productive
  • Offer employees a way to measure and improve their competencies while expanding mobility
  • Track employee and competency growth
  • Improve communication between management and the workforce by clarifying job standards and establishing channels for constructive feedback
  • Set clear expectations for employees while producing a mechanism for recognizing high performers

Competency frameworks aid in recruiting and managing the people correctly so they stay where they’re needed, while growing professionally (which they can then measure). These frameworks can tie into every aspect of recruitment and performance management, as well as succession and pipeline planning, because you have the tools to measure, reward, and improve upon the successes of your best employees.

Pros and cons of competency frameworks

Your reasons for adopting a competency framework into your organization influence their success. For example, it can be easy to underutilize a competency framework, or to use them as traditional performance management.

Pros

The pros of using a competency framework include:

  • It’s easy to communicate clearly how employees are expected to perform and behave in their work
  • Appraisal and recruitment are easier and more focused on skills
  • Recruiters can assess and identify skills based on performance
  • HR can work to link specific skills and behaviors to performance over time
  • Assessments become more transparent and therefore more fair
  • HR can standardize processes like leadership and development based on behaviors and competencies
  • You can more clearly distinguish between team performance and individual performance
  • You have a stronger understanding of what to look for when hiring, promoting, and training

Cons

Competency frameworks are not right for every organization. Their cons often relate to poorly developed or poorly utilized frameworks:

  • They can unfairly focus on past competencies and so have to be assessed and updated regularly to be fair
  • It can be difficult to understand and use frameworks
  • Sometimes training is required to make performance improvements
  • Competency frameworks can’t replace performance management, but HR sometimes tries

Streamline recruitment with a competency framework

Hiring new employees is often a balance between opting for the hard skills and knowledge to perform well in a role, and the personality and behavior to fit well into an organization. Traditionally, recruiters create a profile of who they’re looking for and match potential candidates against that profile. Unfortunately, this process heavily focuses on technical skill and formal learning, often overlooking competencies such as attitude and behavioral patterns, which can be equally important.

Competencies show not only what an employee can do, but also how and how well they utilize the resources at their disposal (i.e., tools, skills, knowledge) to complete their jobs. Using a competency framework as part of the recruitment process allows you to streamline this process by identifying those factors and therefore make better hires.

Improve interview accuracy

Competency frameworks allow you to set up a structured interview in which recruiters use standardized, behavior-based questions to determine how candidates handled previous situations or theoretical ones. This allows you to score individual candidates based on how well they respond, rather than using unstructured models.

This identifies role-based competencies for the position you’re hiring for, and improves the accuracy of hires for both current and future roles as well. Creating a competency framework normally involves reviewing existing employees to determine which factors make them successful in a role – including their behavior, decisions, and actions – alongside technical skills and knowledge.

Richer candidate feedback

With competency frameworks, you can create and offer clear, rational responses when refusing candidates. This makes the overall hiring process smoother by communicating with candidates rather than leaving them in the dark. It also helps recruiters better define what they’re looking for according to candidate characteristics not suited for the position.

Reduced turnover

Hiring candidates whose behavior doesn’t fit a specific role often results in high turnover rates. For example, even an experienced person with the right technical skills for a role may not do well if they hold to tradition and prefer to move slowly while the role requires a fast-paced, fast-adapting individual. This friction will produce a negative work environment and inevitably drive the employee away. By identifying the specific behavior competencies that allow candidates to excel in a role, you can improve job satisfaction as well as performance.

Lower costs

Looking for specific behavior parameters on top of technical skills and knowledge improves the accuracy and efficiency of candidate selection, and therefore reduces total costs. Competency-based recruitment is results oriented and measurable, allowing you to create a direct return on investment in the recruitment process.

Stronger candidates

Competency frameworks give recruiters a map of what success looks like in a role so they can match candidates to specific behaviors rather than looking for a generic profile. This, in turn, speeds up the recruitment process, improves personality and behavioral matching, and increases the chances of finding a good fit.

What is competency-based human resources?

The core concept of competency-based human resources (HR) is to hire for roles based on the competencies that have been identified for that role.

When you implement competency-based systems, the employee benefits from a clear blueprint of a role and a definition of success. They receive transparency regarding recruitment, succession planning, expectations, and evaluations. Employers benefit from reduced turnover, a high level of competence among their team, good skill matches, and high efficiency.

Competency-based human resources:

  • Structures internal employee mobility
  • Creates a framework for open, honest feedback
  • Clarifies success in a job for employee reviews
  • Provides direction for needed skills
  • Sets goals and benchmarks for professional development
  • Gives employees the tools they need to take initiative and further their competencies

Combining HR planning with business planning will allow your company to work comprehensively to achieve your mission and vision. It will align your team with your resources and goals, and ensure your personal, team, and departmental strategies all work toward the same purpose. It’ll also reveal any gaps that need to be filled with additional training or planning.

Competency frameworks and performance management

The competency frameworks model is invaluable for the hiring process, as you can vet candidates based on hard skills as well as behavior and responses to determine if they’re capable of filling a role well. However, it’s also incredibly valuable for performance management and end-of-year reviews.

Knowing what makes a role successful, you can more easily judge when and why an existing employee performs well in their role, when they outperform, and how to improve their performance.

Managing performance as a culture

Many organizations manage performance at one or two points throughout the year, but not on a daily basis. Integrating competency frameworks allows you to determine if individual behavior contributes to a role.

For example, if a person in customer service is routinely short, rude, or uncommunicative, they’re obviously not fit for the role and will likely be moved or fired. However, we rarely apply those same behavioral considerations to other roles. A manager must be open, willing to invest in the success of their team over themselves, and act as a teacher and leader. If they fail to demonstrate those behaviors, is the manager truly performing well in their role?

A well-designed competency framework will clearly define organizational values, focus job and career trajectory, assist employees in managing job satisfaction, and encourage personal development.

Competency is not performance

Recognizing that someone is capable and seeing them perform are separate things. A person may have all the required competencies, but still perform poorly in a role. So, performance management must be separate from competency frameworks. Competency relates to performance in that you can see how people work (and how well).

At the same time, motivation, drive, and commitment play a big part, so a person who’s highly competent may become demotivated and underperform, while a less competent individual may outperform. You can gauge how employees work using competency frameworks, but you still have to gauge what they do separately.

Competency-based performance management is a good solution when combined with traditional performance management. Competencies give you more tools to measure how employees work and how they’re contributing. You can look for success according to the metrics you set down, and measure accordingly. But it’s not the only factor: Physical output and production still matter a great deal. You need both, and each is complementary to the other.

How to build a competency framework for your organization

A competency framework comprises a matrix that maps behaviors and skills to roles and tasks inside your organization. As such, building your own requires you to map it to your organization, which takes time and research. Or, you could purchase a competency framework, but you’d want to customize it to your organization’s specific needs and roles.

Defining necessary competencies across your organization allows you to hire and train for those skills, measure them, and determine which other abilities contribute to job success.

Competency frameworks give you the tools to gauge an employee’s ability to perform well in a role based on behavior, personality, and hard skills – allowing you to go beyond what’s on paper to determine how people actually perform. While undeniably valuable, many companies struggle to determine what’s needed and why. What’s more, crafting a competency framework can require months or even years of research to get it right, leading many to outsource the work instead.

Both outsourcing and creating your own competency framework have their pros and cons, so it’s important that you consider more than simply costs when deciding which route to take.

Outsourcing competency framework design

Outsourcing the building of a competency framework requires you to connect with an external organization that already has a significant amount of benchmarked data, an established process, and “fill in the blanks” data that they can quickly and easily tailor to your unique organization. Many have industry-specific solutions, which can be easily updated for your organization at a lower cost. This gives you a competency framework you can establish quickly and at minimal expense.

Developing your own competency framework

Many organizations choose to develop competency frameworks internally, either using existing benchmarked data or starting from scratch. This involves considerable internal research to map competencies to roles, determine objectives, source an organizational and management framework, and ensure ongoing improvement.

You need to align business, sourcing, and strategy to create a single list of objectives, identify competencies, map existing competencies to success across teams and roles, develop a framework for teams and departments to foster collaboration and ensure individuals with certain skill sets and abilities are available where needed, and establish a process for monitoring performance and effectiveness.

Develop internal resources to:

  • Analyze existing job roles and what makes them productive
  • Interview leaders and workers and compile data
  • Structure how competencies contribute to end goals
  • Define how each competency contributes and why

Choosing the best solution for your organization

If you can successfully handle internal research and analysis, building your own competency model from the ground up may be beneficial. However, most organizations benefit considerably more by bringing in not only third-party research, but a third-party perspective as well. Outsourcing allows you to adopt research compiled across your industry, then have it modified to meet your organization’s specific needs. Because the bulk of the work is already finished, you can easily identify what applies to your organization, create management and leadership frameworks around it, and adjust accordingly as time goes, rather than starting with nothing.

Starting with a standardized framework

Most organizations list the same basic skills or competencies as others. Even if you require fairly heavy customization, buying a standardized framework will likely reduce budget strain considerably. Most competency frameworks include skills frameworks and role mapping. You can also choose a skills-only framework that simply maps skills to roles, giving HR a good idea of what they need and what hiring managers across their industry are looking for.

Once you have a basic framework, it’s important to personalize it by making adjustments to fit your organization’s specific roles, and to ensure the framework integrates into performance management, hiring, and training. Popular frameworks include SFIA, OECD, and IAEA. In most cases, it’s a good idea to go over options with your talent or assessment provider to ensure you have a good fit.

Define where and how competencies are employed

Leaders will use competency frameworks to assess candidates for hire, to manage performance, for professional development, and in career planning for their workers. It’s crucial they understand this and how those factors affect them and their own careers before they begin to use it.

For example, a common misunderstanding is that competency frameworks only come into play during end-of-year reviews. However, a good framework integrates into daily behavior, individual task management, and in guiding employees on how they should perform at their job.

Introducing new performance measurement tools will almost always be met with resistance, even from leadership. The clearest path to success is to ensure everyone involved has the information about what it’s for, how it works, and what it will do. Providing adequate training and information also provides everyone with the opportunity to get onboard.

Measure work and performance

Employee assessment and performance management is a crucial role for HR, one that impacts business performance, goal achievement, and leadership development. While performance appraisal and employee assessment has traditionally been tied to factors such as individual output and performance, new models are replacing simple productivity assessments with more complex ones capable of measuring how an individual’s behavior impacts their team and the productivity of their team or those under them.

Competency frameworks are extremely valuable for these determinations, as they measure soft skills, behavior, and factors such as emotional intelligence. A well-implemented framework can positively impact recruitment, talent management, performance management, and leadership development.

Chances are, your organization already conducts yearly or even quarterly performance reviews. In this case, you collect data to see what everyone’s doing. It’s important to look at actual production and output, as well as total team performance in terms of creativity, collaboration, etc.

If you don’t have a performance review in place or only collect limited data, you’ll likely have to start by talking to team leads and managers to collect this information:

  • Identify key performers in each role
  • Identify the lowest performers

This step is more important if you’re working towards a competency framework but is valuable for skills as well. A simple DiSC performance analysis can help you fill gaps if you don’t have work data on hand.

Most competency frameworks include several layers of competencies, which include core competencies for the organization and then layers of competencies applied to employees in different levels of leadership or technical positions. If you want to utilize competencies for employee assessment, whether in hiring or in performance management, you also have to ensure that role-based competencies are in place.

This means working with an employee assessment organization to determine which competencies contribute to success in individual roles or teams. Here, you want to look at how individual performance impacts productivity and team productivity, which factors enable success in the role (such as communication, EQ, etc.) and map competencies to success inside roles based on factors such as actual work being performed, level of collaboration required, external communication required, and so on.

Measuring core competencies

Managers need a competency framework in place to measure employee effectiveness. It must work at an organizational and an individual role level, identifying knowledge, skills, and behaviors that contribute positively to the organization.

The basis of recording competency data is that managers, their managers, and other higher positions must record total behavior and performance during significant incidents, average day-to-day behavior and performance, and total behavior, including both positive and negative reactions. Creating role-based competency frameworks thus allows managers to map individual behavior to ideal targets.

In short, this involves:

  • Observing how people work and what they do to complete the work
  • Interviewing people with competency assessments to see what competencies top performers are displaying
  • Use questionnaires and interviews to see what people think contributes to their job

Observing

Employees must be observed objectively and without bias so only their specific actions and behaviors are recorded. Most competency measurement begins with recording average behavior, then settles on recording behavior during crucial moments such as during large projects, moments of stress, etc., and then any marked deviations from standard behavior. Providing managers with a template or program to record this data is essential.

Measuring significance

It’s important to measure the significance of incidents and behavioral changes. For example, if an employee is performing poorly but has recently been involved in an accident or lost a loved one, the change could be due to trauma and not an actual personality shift. The significance of changes in behavior can also be mapped according to the impact that behavior has on output, on other parts of the organization, and on customers.

Benchmarking

By learning the normal behavior of individual employees over time, you can benchmark their data to establish standards based on these tendencies. This will then allow you to identify over- and underachievers inside the same role, pinpoint personal improvement in individual employees, and mentor and improve others to reach the same standards.

Measuring core competencies allows you to better assess and develop individual performance by defining how successful work is completed. This, in turn, allows you to recognize, develop, and reward that behavior, producing a positive behavioral loop.

Conduct interviews across your organization

The easiest way to see what people need to perform work is to ask them. For most organizations, this means:

  1. Grouping roles into types
  2. Identifying specific roles across the organization
  3. Prioritizing roles (where to start and why; some roles will serve as bases for others, some should be finished sooner for hiring purposes, etc.)

In most cases, the more people you interview for each role, the better your eventual framework will be. Different people see their roles in different lights, explain their roles in various ways, and may even take on more aspects of a role than another person.

  • What skills does the person use in their daily work?
  • Which do they use occasionally?
  • How do they rank those skills?
  • How do managers and team leads rank their skills?

You can also sit down with a team to discuss roles, including what they see as the most important aspects and skills for specific positions. Group perspectives can be just as valuable as input from the person actually in the role, because you learn what tasks others rely on that person to do and why.

You also want to look at:

  • What skills (if any) people in those roles think are missing
  • What skills leadership thinks are missing
  • If skills are in place to meet changing role requirements (even if those haven’t happened yet)
  • If roles are changing and if so, how much
  • Any input the people in those roles have to offer

Eventually, you’ll end up with a general list of skills for the role, which you can prioritize based on importance. Prioritization allows you to improve hiring for skills, because you know what’s necessary and what’s nice to have.

Mapping skills to productivity and performance

Pay attention to people who perform well in performance reviews. It’s also important to interview people who perform badly though. Monitoring poor interviewees allows you to map skills based on performance so you can see if gaps contribute to performance gaps. In many cases, performance gaps relate to stress, mental health, and competencies. You need to take all these factors into account.

  • What skills, or soft skills, are present in high performers that aren’t present in low performers?
  • What skills gaps exist in the organization? Do they affect performance?

Mapping skills to productivity and performance will help you determine which ones are important for the role, which are not, and which actively impede performance when they’re missing.

It’s incredibly helpful to look at people who have been with the organization for a long time, who are in roles that have evolved over time and so may not have the skills needed for it. You also want to look at people who were hired without necessary skills and learned those skills (or didn’t) while on the job.

This kind of research will give you a clear picture of what’s impactful for hiring, what needs to be taught to improve performance, and what your overall strategy should be.

Assembling your framework

Once you’ve completed your research, you have to put it all together. Often, that involves using a competency framework as a base or a competency management tool. However, it should always include the following steps:

  • Group skills into categories such as “manual skills,” “strategy,” “interpersonal,” etc., and use that to prioritize certain skills
  • Organize major skills groups into three to four sub-groups to map sub-groups and broader skills to roles
  • Identify and name competencies in a logical way
  • Link those named skills to specific roles based on assessments, using either broader categories or individual subgroups

Integrating a leadership competency framework

Excellence in an organization often starts from the top down. If your leaders, including managers, board members, CEO, and other top staff, do not behave in a way that benefits the organization, you can’t expect the rest of the workforce to. Leadership competency frameworks allow you to integrate new standards at the top, first integrating and adjusting leadership, then onboarding the workforce.

While leadership competency frameworks should never stand alone or become separate from the overall competency framework, creating competencies for leaders first gives you the ability to introduce and streamline the process where it matters most — with the people guiding the rest of your workforce.

Providing training

A leadership competency framework gives leaders a template for their own behavior, showing what is effective and what isn’t inside of their roles. However, making the switch to new management styles is rarely a smooth transition. However, providing training and learning opportunities gives everyone the ability to adapt and learn new things. This, in turn, gives those who struggle with the new model the chance to recognize where they have to adapt to keep up.

Define how to use competencies

Recruiters and interviewers should know what questions to ask, and what skills and characteristics to look for. They should be able to pick out desirable behaviors on a resume and know what to ask in the interview to prompt candidates to reveal their behaviors.

Management also needs to have the tools to use company competencies. They should know which behaviors foster mastery and high performance, and which do not. Rewarding positive behaviors and taking the initiative to offer training and development to those who show promise are also mandatory abilities.

Foster incorporation and engagement

Hiring and evaluating employees based on a competency framework requires pushing adoption and buy-in from every member of the management and recruiting teams. They should understand why the framework was developed and how to use it, as well as how it’ll be updated and how they can change it to meet individual circumstances:

  • Link competencies to business objectives
  • Connect competencies to personal growth and success, not just to business performance
  • Establish policies that reward the behavior and competencies you want to see
  • Offer coaching and training where needed
  • Communicate the whole process openly and honestly
  • Ensure managers and employees understand how data is collected and why
  • Create a privacy standard for behavioral evaluation

The biggest challenge with competency-based HR is adoption. However, once the framework is accepted throughout the organization, it’ll produce a culture of competence critical to the organization’s success.

Identify skills gaps

Every organization will experience competency gaps. Here are a few ways to identify them before they become a bigger problem:

  • Conduct a performance review on a team and individual level
  • Identify behaviors each person should display in their role
  • Highlight missing competences, and identify which can be taught and which cannot
  • Allocate resources when closing gaps to save costs and time by either restructuring or training employees where necessary

Identifying and closing gaps requires managers to have a clear understanding of organizational and role competencies and why they matter, so you must get management onboard.

Identifying future gaps

Whether due to retirement, moving on to new roles, or even promotion, companies regularly lose highly qualified talent. Unfortunately, with no steady pool of qualified replacements, many of these roles remain vacant for months before new employees fill them, who then have to learn the organization and its culture before they can be effective.

Gap analysis can predict where skills disruptions will appear based on projected departure, retirement, and internal promotion, as well as unexpected losses.

Once you’ve identified where you’ll likely experience gaps, you can take measures to fill them. This involves identifying critical roles inside your organization that can’t be left empty and are therefore prime candidates for succession planning.

Creating a talent pool

Once you’ve identified behaviors and competencies that contribute to success in critical roles, you can begin to develop a talent pool. This means pinpointing employees with high potential, reviewing their strengths and weaknesses, and working to create strategies so they and others can close those gaps and prepare for their potential new role.

This pool of employees should receive leadership development, training, and even organization-sponsored education to prepare them to step into a higher role.

To produce a readily available employee pool, most consider:

  • Behaviors that contribute to success
  • Education level/qualifications
  • Years within the organization
  • Willingness to learn and develop themselves

Many companies also benefit from offering a broader employee development program open to everyone in the organization, which allows self-motivated individuals to pursue learning and transition to new roles. This removes some of the need for advanced evaluation and interviewing to qualify candidates for development programs, but may cost the organization more overall.

Once a talent pool is established, you can score their competencies based on what will be needed for future roles. Mentoring programs, developmental assignments, stretch assignments, formal training, and action learning are extremely valuable in development planning.

A competency framework gives HR the behaviors and competencies to look for in candidates. This helps you put together comprehensive training to develop those with desired qualifications and behaviors so they’re well qualified when a role becomes available. In this way, organizations can ensure employee loyalty, lower total costs, and reduce time lost due to gaps in crucial roles.

Mapping behaviors that contribute to success in new roles

With a competency framework in place, you can identify the factors and behaviors that contribute to success in a role that will soon be empty. This will let you target unlearnable or difficult to learn behaviors (such as honesty, creativity, flexibility, strong problem-solving, people skills, etc.), and then identify candidates inside your organization who already have those skills. But, unlike traditional hand selection and grooming, a competency model allows you to share what success looks like inside a role publicly so each individual knows what they have to learn and master to be promoted.

Clearly communicating what’s expected

Many organizations are ambiguous about what’s expected from competency frameworks simply because information can be translated in many ways. Allowing individuals to interpret competencies according to their situations can be a double-edged sword. Take the time to identify and clarify points of confusion to ensure understanding and adoption. Offer clear examples of good behavior so leaders know what’s expected of them.

Using behavioral statements as well as anecdotes, studies, and even case studies of desirable behavior inside the organizations can be extremely helpful for conveying a point. For example, if you can say “remember when X employee did this and achieved Y? What if X employee had done Z instead, a behavior that many of you do every day. Would Y have still been achieved?” Additionally:

  • Link expected behavior to outcomes and production
  • Make sure leaders understand why competencies exist (what’s the end value?)
  • Provide examples relevant to your work culture and environment
  • Ask leaders to come up with their own examples to ensure understanding

Developing targeted employee training

Training employees delivers value by building internal resources and capabilities, increasing workforce productivity, and improving employee loyalty to reduce turnover. Training programs can also close gaps, prepare existing employees to change roles, and ready candidates for succession.

Competency frameworks refine this process by identifying goals and target behaviors, as well as which learnable behaviors and skills actually impact roles. This process is known as capability building, wherein you introduce and manage employee development as part of workforce planning.

Changing focus from activity to efficacy

Traditional employee training and retraining modes rely on activity. However, these models often fail to evaluate learning and development, as they lack performance targets and data.

A competency framework identifies the behaviors and actions that contribute to success in a role and allows you to track them against success. This way, you know what skills need to be taught, when training is successful, and when training contributes to positive business outcomes.

Targeting learning where it matters

You can also focus learning objectives with competency frameworks by meeting specific learning and development needs, rather than introducing a single broad course. For example, you could target specific employee roles for certain trainings while letting others study something more valuable to their role. Common competency framework-based training includes:

  • Employee development
  • Skills development with systematic exposure to work experiences
  • Orientation activities and training
  • Continuous learning for employees to maintain relevant skills
  • Employing experienced workers in the role of mentor or coach
  • Offering lifestyle development such as stress and time management to improve productivity and behavior
  • Aligning new initiatives with organizational planning to ensure employees are prepared for changes
  • Breaking down cultural barriers to improve cross-organizational communication
  • Building training around business applications rather than the classroom

Target individual training based on current and future competencies desired in specific roles to benefit both the organization and the employee. This could include training an IT team in a new software the organization is integrating before it’s introduced, or educating customer service on customer relationship management. As a result, their skills become more relevant, increasing their value and improving the organization’s total output and productivity.

Creating an environment that encourages learning

A competency framework creates a system that can accurately gauge what employees need to learn. It also allows you to measure the success of training and learning, not through employees passing tests, but through measurable changes in behaviors that actively contribute to the organization.

This means learning should encompass not just hard skills, but also leadership (personal and others), values, attitudes, behaviors, hard skills, and internal systems and processes.

Training based on a competency framework can target goals and desired outcomes for individual roles, which enables you to bring groups of people where they need to be to meet the organization’s needs. This includes delivering specific skills in a brief period of time and slowly developing candidates for larger roles over longer periods of time.

Competency frameworks, employee monitoring, and quality assurance

Competency frameworks are increasingly integrated into organizational performance management to measure not only what employees do, but also how they do it. This same data can be integral in fostering a culture of management and quality assurance by defining what success looks like. This gives managers the tools to shift focus away from procedure and tradition towards efficiency and meeting quality standards.

While this requires a certain level of competency from leaders, it also allows you to take steps to measure and verify the quality of work being completed using information already at your disposal.

Using competency frameworks for monitoring

An organization should develop a competency framework around the skills and knowledge necessary to complete tasks for a role, as well as the behavior and attitudes required to perform well in it. Actual monitoring typically uses a three-part process of watching and observing, benchmarking and actively using data, and offering feedback. More specifically, this looks like the following procedure:

  • Assign managers to monitor worker behavior consistently over time
  • Benchmark data to establish performance norms both for individuals and roles (you can use this to identify high performers, when performance goes up/down, and to target those struggling within the organization)
  • Focus on noting behaviors shown in key situations, such as in decision-making, learning, meeting deadlines, or offering real-time feedback and goal-oriented motivation

Good behavior leads to quality work

The core of any competency framework is to improve either productivity itself or the quality of productivity. While some organizations lose sight of tying competencies to direct output such as organizational goals, production, or performance, you need to lay out those traits and behaviors that directly contribute to organizational goals, including quality, and tie them to behavior. In your definition, be sure to:

  • Tie competencies to performance (otherwise, they won’t help the organization)
  • Establish competencies that directly affect quality control (such as asking for help, focusing on producing quality work, being technically skilled, seeking feedback and constructive criticism, being flexible, establishing clear work processes, etc.)
  • Monitor performance output alongside competencies to verify they line up with the quality of work produced

Create processes to maintain your framework

Once you’ve created your framework, it’s important to establish processes to ensure its ongoing maintenance and validation. Chances are, you hire an external team to handle interviews, craft a framework, and customize results to your organization. This is largely unfeasible internally, unless HR suddenly has an abundance of free time or you’re willing to bring in freelancers.

Whatever the case, you’ll have to either establish an ongoing relationship with those teams to update work as your organization and technology changes, or implement internal processes to ensure work maintenance is ongoing. To determine what you need to do, ask:

  • Who is responsible for maintaining and updating roles and skills?
  • How does HR know when technology used in teams changes? (E.g., if the organization moves from Ruby on Rails to Python, job descriptions have to change with it.)
  • How does HR validate skills? Can skills be mapped to performance during reviews? Can progress be mapped to validate teaching new recruits and existing employees’ skills?
  • Are programs in place to close skills gaps?

If you lack internal processes to maintain and validate your skills framework, it’ll quickly lose value. Most organizations change fairly rapidly with new tools, roles, and teams regularly introducing change. HR must be able to keep track of it all, update the skills framework as needed, and continue to hire and train for the skills the organization needs.

Implementing feedback

Integrating competency frameworks into employee assessments requires a feedback loop where you can continuously improve the framework, scoring methods, and the assessment itself over time.

Consider:

  • Who is handling employee assessment? What are they responsible for?
  • Are roles and responsibilities in assessments clearly documented?
  • How is assessment data used, who collects it, and who interprets it?
  • Is third-party feedback, such as from a manager or colleagues, included in assessing competencies? How is this managed?
  • Are employees involved in the process? Can they offer input? Are they fully aware of what’s being tested?
  • Are relationships between competencies and role performance validated by data? Do you have a program in place to continue this validation?

Roles change over time, which means required competencies can change with them. The easiest way to manage this is to create a feedback loop where competencies are correlated to performance data, employees can give their own input on the validity of the competency, and the quality of competency assessment is managed to prevent bias.

Using competency models to make better hires

Making good hiring decisions is a crucial component of HR and one of the reasons competency and behavioral models exist. Hiring managers should look for behaviors that show alignment with the role, key organization values, and desired engagement and productivity.

Cultural match

Every hire you make will have to adapt to your organization’s culture. This is to prevent clashes that produce friction, dissatisfaction, and, ultimately, higher churn.

For example, if a new hire is accustomed to working with a waterfall method and is hired into an agile organization, they may struggle without the structure of direct managerial guidance.

Defining your cultural values and selecting individuals who can fit in quickly and smoothly will increase the satisfaction and productivity of the new hire.

Core values

Core values can be part of culture, but are often a separate entity. For example, if your organization is dedicated to reducing waste and improving efficiency, but your new hire has little regard for sustainable practices, they’ll clash with the organization’s core values and may bottleneck or reduce efficiency for their team.

While some may adapt to new core values, many don’t or take a long time to do so. Core values can relate to intrinsic work patterns (such as lean waste management or agile self-sufficiency), but can also relate to morals and values like eco-friendly practices.

Motivation and career path

Hire the right people for the right reasons. For example, someone who’s stuck in a job they hate and just wants out will likely have no real personal motivation or investment in your organization.

It’s important to seek out specific motivation for your organization, even if your work is relatively simple. For example, a fashion store hiring a clerk may ask why they applied to that store instead of another (unskilled) labor job such as a fast-food chain worker. This kind of questioning unveils their specific motivation.

Understanding that motivation and desired career path increases in importance as you move into roles where career development and succession planning or organizational growth are more common. But they’re valuable components for nearly any role, because someone without personal motivation for the position is unlikely to perform well or innovate beyond just doing their job.

Pairing personalities with teams

Many times, a company makes a great hire, pairs them with a team, then they quickly lose motivation and disengage or even leave. Why? The issue is often that the individual doesn’t personally agree with the team, its work methods, or even members of the team.

Working with competency models gives you the opportunity to define the key characteristics and traits required to fit into a team, demonstrated by individuals on the team, so you can hire someone who’s more likely to integrate into the team smoothly. While diversity is valuable and important in teams, establishing desirable traits helps you avoid pairing people with teams or individuals who may clash with their personality.

Competency models make it easier to define an ideal fit for a specific role by going beyond responsibilities and into personality characteristics and core behaviors. This, in turn, will reduce churn and increase engagement by bringing on new people who show active engagement and interest in the role.

How to put together an A-team with competency frameworks

Your competency framework will enable you to develop a highly competent team capable of adding measurable value and contributing to organizational performance in a meaningful way.

Create the right framework

For effective team building, a competency framework must be tailored to the organization and to the job role depending on whether your brand uses organizational competencies, role-level competencies, or both. In either case, the framework must reflect the organization currently and as it moves forward.

This means defining:

  • Behaviors that contribute to the success of the role in its current and future incarnations
  • Behaviors that contribute to current and projected organizational goals
  • Hard and soft skills that contribute to success in the current and future environment

If competencies aren’t relevant to the role, the framework won’t be valuable. Most organizations save time by using a predefined, broad list of competencies, but it’s important to customize this to meet specific needs using an outside consultant in combination with internal HR.

Determine how to look for behaviors

Oral interviews, presentations, assignments, and reference checks are the most common methods of settling on competencies. For example, interviews are extremely valuable for this purpose, since candidates are expected to share examples of past work and/or answer behavioral questions.

However, competency frameworks should extend to current employees as well. You need an effective way to assess, maintain, and monitor the competencies of your existing team. By identifying specific behaviors and skills needed for each role, you can make the best hire, but also identify gaps in existing employees and plan for training, which will improve the strength and competency of your team.

Use your competency framework

Once you’ve adopted a competency framework, you must incorporate it, educate recruiters and interviewers on it and why they should use it, and implement it straightforwardly.

For example, in the hiring process, creating a list of words and phrases to look out for that exhibit the behaviors you want is a helpful tactic. Similarly, listing qualities you no longer find important, such as having a degree from a prestigious university, can also be helpful.

Incorporating a competency framework enables you to strengthen your current team, while ensuring new members display the competencies that will enable them to be successful in their role. This, in turn, benefits the organization as a whole.

Promoting corporate entrepreneurship with competency frameworks

The world is increasingly dynamic and flexible, with technology changing at a rapid pace. Increasingly, organizations have to be just as flexible and fast-paced to keep up. This is evident in the success of edgy entrepreneurial corporations like Uber and Bonobos, who went from nothing to major corporations poised to take on the biggest traditional organization. Corporate entrepreneurship is the process of promoting internal entrepreneurship so employees have the freedom and confidence to create efficiencies and new working methods for themselves — therefore improving the organization as a whole.

Competency frameworks allow you to recognize and promote the behavior and freedoms contributing to this behavior.

Identifying and implementing entrepreneurial competencies

Competency frameworks identify specific behaviors that contribute to entrepreneurial thinking. For example, you could highlight where behaviors like risk-taking, trying new things, adaptability, and creative problem-solving come together to generate new solutions and ideas.

By highlighting what contributes to a corporate culture of entrepreneurism, you can encourage and reward it,  and ensure employees have the operational freedom to change how they work. This also requires self-motivation, a willingness to learn, and the ability to adjust and take small steps.

Failing forward

Failing forward is the idea that you have to fail before you can succeed. By allowing employees to fail without severe repercussions, you can foment a culture of constant, small failures leading to big successes. For example, allowing teams to try new things, even when they don’t necessarily succeed, gives everyone the opportunity to take small steps and experiment in a safe space, which reduces risk.

This risk-taking behavior can be extremely beneficial in a controlled environment, because developing new work methods, tools, and processes is increasingly important for organizations to keep up with the competition. This requires an increased level of risk-acceptance behavior on an individual level so employees can try new things without risk of reprisal if they fail (provided they get approval first) and look forward to a reward if they succeed.

Measuring success

While many HR tactics have been used to build corporate entrepreneurship, many of those lack a concrete way to measure success. When you allow failure, what does success look like? Competency frameworks allow you to define the behavior, attitudes, and product that lead to success. How? A person who takes risks and tries new things doesn’t necessarily do so with the benefit of the entire organization in mind.

By identifying the factors that play into success, such as keeping in mind the total impact on the entire organization, focusing on day-to-day work as well as long-term goals (a person spending all their time optimizing a process isn’t performing their job), and self-improvement, which includes the ability to accept and give constructive criticism, you can determine what actually makes this behavior work.

Risk acceptance and encouraging individual contribution are the two primary factors playing into successful corporate entrepreneurship, and competency frameworks give you the tools to encourage, measure, and quantify risk-taking behavior, motivation, self-improvement and development, and the behaviors that add to total employee contributions to the organization.

Using competency frameworks throughout the employee life cycle

Once you implement a competency framework, you can utilize it at nearly every stage of the employee life cycle. That includes competency-based hiring, development, and retention. Understanding employee competencies gives you better insight into where an employee fits and works best. It also reveals how much each employee has grown or changed since entering your organization so you know which employees invest in personal growth and development, and which don’t.

That insight into talent life cycle management can prove invaluable, but it starts with managing competencies, using ongoing assessments, and offering development opportunities.

Perform regular competency assessments

Integrating competency assessments into the yearly performance review can be a great way to ensure that competency profiles stay up to date. Here, you’ll likely want to use a combination of skills assessment, 360-review, and leadership review. Assessments and personality assessments can help but getting actual input from the people others work with is important.

Map competencies to development programs

Mindfully employing competency frameworks can pinpoint and close skills gaps. It’s also invaluable for identifying people with competencies suitable for leadership roles who can be upskilled if necessary. Aligning development with competencies also allows you to measure outcomes from development through regular competency assessments.

Map leadership to competency

Once you’ve defined competencies for roles, including leadership, you can establish clear developmental goals for people who want to move into higher positions. Having a transparent map of required behaviors and skills for growth offers clarity and motivation for people to work towards where they want to be.

Wrapping up — Use competency frameworks to elevate your business

Although a relatively simple concept, competency frameworks map the skills and behaviors your organization needs. They can also improve many aspects of hiring, development, leadership, and long-term role management. At the same time, it’s important to ensure these frameworks are integrated into the organization, introduced to employees, and worked into business outcomes. It’s not enough to develop one; you have to implement it, ensure its adoption, and continuously update it as roles and their associated skills change.


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5 Ways to utilize a DISC assessment of your employees

Using personality tests during the hiring process has become common practice for many organizations around the world. They’re a great way to assess job candidates, making sure you choose the best fitting candidate for the job. In fact, it’s reported that over 88% of Fortune 500 companies use the MBTI personality assessment in their recruitment process.

But the usage of personality tests shouldn’t stop at the hiring stage. Keeping your employees happy and engaged should be a top priority for your company. By understanding your employees personality traits you can find out what motivates them and learn how to retain top talent.

There are many different ways you can use employee personality tests within your workplace. The DISC personality assessment is a versatile tool for analyzing an employees personality traits, making it an ideal solution for use within your business.

What is the DISC personality assessment?

The DiSC Model Theory, which was developed in 1928 by Dr. William Moulton Marston, provides a basis for us to understand different personality types and, consequently, their favored method of work and communication.

No personality is inherently bad for the workplace. In fact, it’s often poor management and a lack of variety that are detrimental. 

By understanding and incorporating various personality types into your company, you’ll have people whose traits complement each other and thus work well together, you can better manage interpersonal conflicts, and you’ll understand how employees learn best for trainings. 

As a result, you’ll have a better motivated, more satisfied organization and stronger teams.

The DISC Model states there are four personality types: Dominant, Influential (or Inductive), Steady, and Conscientious (or Compliant).

Dominant personalities are generally direct and have an air of inner certainty. They may interrupt, ask focused questions, and have a “tell” style of communication.

Strengths: Confident, determined, loves challenges, focused, influences others. On his/her best day, a dominant personality can be competitive, demanding, determined, strong-willed, and purposeful.

Weaknesses: Poor listener, can come across as arrogant, may push too hard, and doesn’t wait for feedback. On his/her worst day, a dominant personality can be aggressive, controlling, driving, overbearing, and intolerant.

Influential personalities are generally sociable, enthusiastic, and fast-paced. They also smile and gesticulate more.

Strengths: Quick to build relationships, friendly and sociable, adaptable, imaginative, and a skillful presenter. On his/her best day, an influential personality can be dynamic, demonstrative, enthusiastic, and persuasive.

Weaknesses: May lack focus, too casual for some, poor planning, poor follow-up, and can lose interest. On his/her worst day, an influential personality can be excitable, frantic, indiscreet, flamboyant, and hasty.

Steady personalities are generally slow to approach others. They may show hesitation, pause before replying, are slower in speech, and have an “ask” style of communication.

Strengths: Builds deep, long-term relationships, a natural listener, sincere, warm, and present. On his/her best day, a steady personality can be caring, encouraging, sharing, patient, and relaxed.

Weaknesses: Slow to adapt, may lack enthusiasm in asking for a decision, avoids rejection, and takes difficulties personally. On his/her worst day, a steady personality can be docile, bland, plodding, reliant, and stubborn.

Conscientious personalities are generally reserved and business-focused. They show little facial expression, ask detailed questions, and give thoughtful answers.

Strengths: Knowledgeable and detailed, has an air of competence, asks probing questions, and is thorough in following up. On his/her best day, a conscientious personality can be cautious, precise, deliberate, questioning, and formal.

Weaknesses: Initial interactions may be difficult, his/her questions may seem critical and insensitive, overlooks others’ feelings, and focuses on inconsequential details. On his/her worst day, a conscientious personality can be stuffy, indecisive, suspicious, cold, and reserved.

The key to successful communication between these personalities can be summed up in one word: flex.

The leader who can situate him/herself within this framework and learns to flex (that is, adjust their style to the needs of their employees) will notice a drastic improvement in team dynamics.

So, when do you flex? Whenever you notice a breakdown in communication or cooperation among coworkers, change your communication style to fit theirs. You can generally do this by matching their tone of voice and volume, pace, and body language.

But how do you communicate with each personality type? DISC provides the following tip for each one:

  • Dominant – “Give them the bottom line, be brief, focus your discussions narrowly, avoid making generalizations, refrain from repeating yourself, and focus on solutions rather than problems.”
  • Influential – “Share your experiences, allow I-style people time to ask questions and talk, focus on the positives, avoid overloading them with details, and don’t interrupt them.”
  • Steady – “Be personal and amiable, express your interest in them and what you expect from them, take time to provide clarification, be polite, and avoid being confrontational, overly aggressive or rude.”
  • Conscientious – “Focus on facts and details; minimize ‘pep talk’ or emotional language; be patient, persistent and diplomatic.”

5 Ways to use DISC assessments of your employees

1) Use DISC for employee hiring and promotion processes

The DISC assessment is all about people and relationships: how they interact with one another, work together, lead people and sell to customers. Although the DISC profile is not recommended for use during pre-employment screening, it can be used to optimize your hiring and onboarding processes.

The hiring process can be unfair and biased. When hiring for a job vacancy, hiring managers will often suffer from unconscious biases, including biases that make them more drawn to candidates that are similar to themselves. You can overcome this personal bias by understanding your own DISC style.

If, as the hiring manager, you know your own DISC personality style then you will be able to identify when you might have a bias towards someone of the same style or a bias against someone of the opposing style.

By using DISC to understand your existing team, you can also ask questions that will determine how the job applicant would fit into the existing team structure, or to determine how they may interact with others on the team.

2) Use DISC personality profiles to tailor communication

Within your organization, you can also use the DISC personality assessment to tailor your communication with different employees. By developing an understanding of your DISC style and your team members DISC style, you can adapt your communication method to improve communications within your team. As a result, your team will feel valued. Employees who feel valued at work have been reported to perform better in their roles.

If one of your team members has a high Dominance personality type according to their DISC profile, being direct and concise may be the most effective communication style. Meanwhile, an employee with a high Influence score may prefer personable and conversational communication.

Different communication styles work for different people. If you understand your and your team’s personality type, you can improve communication within your company team by informing your team what communication style works best for you and adapting your communication style to suit what works best for them.

3) Improve team productivity and efficiency with DISC

Team productivity and efficiency is imperative for the success of your workplace teams. By understanding the DISC profiles of each individual team member, you can help your team to achieve better results for your business.

Grouping people with different temperaments together could cause issues in your team dynamic, which in turn could impact the work produced by that team. Using the DISC personality assessment will enable you to prevent misunderstandings, miscommunication and personality clashes within your team.

As you understand each team member’s personality and working style, you will be able to determine how well they will work with other team members.

The DISC assessment will also enable you to identify team members that may have clashing personality styles. You will then be able to advise these employees on the best method for working together as a team.

The DISC profile can also be useful when implementing a team structure. Although DISC cannot be used to select leaders, you could use it to find the most effective leadership development and training for your team leaders. The Everything DISC profile for leaders is an effective tool for helping leaders to understand their own leadership behaviors and how they impact the success of their department or team.

4) Use the DISC personality test for employee development

Employees value personal development in the workplace. According to the LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning.

You can use the DISC personality assessment to further your employees’ personal and professional development. The DISC personality test can be used to help employees’ understand themselves and their own personality profile. Once they understand their personality style, you can then help them learn strategies to improve their workplace interactions and performance.

5) Motivate employees based on their DISC profile

Employee engagement should be a priority for your organization. Companies whose employees are truly motivated and engaged in their role are the most likely to succeed. There are more ways to motivate employees than simply through monetary rewards. By understanding each of your employee’s DISC styles, you can customize your motivation processes to help increase employee engagement and job satisfaction levels.

You can use the DISC personality profile to learn the dominant personality traits of your employees. Once you know their dominant trait, you will be able to customize your motivation processes to tap into their specific strengths.

For instance, employees with a dominant Conscientious personality style will be eager to maintain quality and accuracy in their work. Therefore, it may be beneficial to set them goals that they want to achieve based on their personality type.

Employees with a high Influence score may be more likely to be motivated by social recognition, group activities and relationships. These employees, therefore, may react positively to receiving recognition and praise, or being chosen to organize a social event for other team members.

No one motivation campaign will work for all of your employees. That’s why it can be beneficial to develop a deeper understanding of your employees and run motivation campaigns that suit each of the different personality styles identified by the DISC personality profile.

To summarize, the DISC personality assessment can help you nurture your employees and workplace teams, further their development and increase their performance levels. By developing an understanding of your employees personality styles, you will be able to optimize your workplace in numerous ways.


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Remote Personality Testing Tips for Recruiters

Personality testing is a standardized element of recruitment for most organizations. With 80% of all Fortune 500 companies adopting assessments like Meyers Briggs personality tests, it’s also consistently used by some of the world’s most successful companies. It makes sense for many organizations to adopt personality testing and skills assessment as part of the recruitment process – both to narrow the pool of potentials and to reduce churn after hiring.

At the same time, many organizations are shifting work to remote environments. That tracks to changing work norms and increases in flex work, remote work, and outsourcing. It also tracks to safety measures, which are further pushing work norms. Remote interviewing is already normalized. You likely already use video calls and email or a portal to exchange data.

Remote personality testing can further add value to this process, helping recruiters to fill in the blanks around skills, personality traits, competencies, and how well that person will fit into a team they may never meet in person.

Can You Run HR Assessment Tests Remotely?

Most personality assessments are delivered over a computer. Yet, many are traditionally taken in office settings, where recruiters can monitor responses and monitor attempts to cheat by looking up answers, can gauge the individual’s personality and match it with answers, and otherwise use tools to determine if the individual is being honest.

Optimizing personality and competency testing for remote environments means delivering testing without expectations. Users cannot know what you might want or expect to get as answers or results. And, in many cases, you have to tweak assessments to require pressure testing and therefore to avoid intuitive thinking – where users are able to simply guess which answer you might “want”.

Portals

Digital testing is easiest to support through online portals, hosted on your own or the developer’s site. Developing your own portal allows you to reduce cheating by implementing time-pressure, integrating testing into larger projects, and using tactics like forcing full-screen to reduce simultaneous look-up.

Testing for the Right Traits

It’s impossible to test for a full panel of personality traits and competencies without any sort of face-to-face interaction. However, you can easily test for specific traits to determine if the individual is a good fit for the role. Here, core competencies, big 5 personality, and team mapping work quite well in remote settings.

Personality Testing

Personality testing means trying to map an individual to personality traits or a personality type so you can fit them into a team or role. This type of testing is intended to show general traits, how this person will interact with other team members, and what their strengths and weaknesses might be. It does not show whether they are qualified for or suited for one role or not. Communicate this. It’s also a good idea to map what success has looked like in this role in the past. Map incoming personality traits to others in your organization holding the same role and assess whether personality factors play any part in success in the role.

Competency Testing

Competency mapping allows you to build a framework around competencies mapped to individual roles. Testing for these competencies in remote situations means delivering tests as skills or project tests and as personality tests. For example, if you can map out the 6 core competencies required for a role, you can create a personality assessment around them and then a follow-up skills assessment. How can you see soft skills in an assessment? If you need someone who’s good under pressure, simply putting time pressure on the assignment will give you a good idea of how the individual performs and reacts under pressure. For example, deliver the assignment alongside the message that you need it several days sooner than communicated because of someone going on vacation.

Assignments

Assignments don’t work with every type of role, but for many they do. Here, even small assignments of 20-60 minutes can help you map competencies from a test to real work. Assignments also show hard skills, which can be useful especially in creative roles. These are traditionally handed out remotely, so there’s a very high chance you’re already accustomed to doing so. The difference here is putting in processes to map assignment results to skills and personality tests.

Of course, you can still involve teams. Zoom, Discord, and Microsoft Teams allow you to conduct “meet the team” exercises to validate how well people get along (in a first meeting), to see how people interact, and to track responses. While everyone will be in their own environment, you still get discussion, see how that individual fits into the team, and potentially introduce them to the “work floor” to gauge reactions. That can add a lot of value, in that you’ll have opportunities to map reactions to assessment results to attempt to validate them. For example, following the team meetup, you can discuss the individual with team leads, share personality traits and results, and decide how and if the candidate is a good fit.

How to Minimize “Cheating”

Cheating will always happen. It’s a very measured and measurable phenomenon in any type of job testing. Applicants will lie on personality and competency tests as much or more as they lie on resumes. Your goal should be to collect the data you need anyway.

  • Don’t make outcomes obvious in any question. If there’s a clear “best answer” for work, you probably need a different question
  • Conduct personality testing during live video calls to increase pressure and reduce intuition. Performing in high-pressure environments also means individuals are more likely to quickly choose an answer, much like they would under pressure at work.
  • Share explicit messages regarding the fact that testing is used to match candidates to roles and teams – there is no best answer
  • Validate tests by using double tests, asking the same questions in multiple ways, and validating through assignments

DISC assessments and Myers-Briggs indicators work for both personality and competency assessments, but it’s important to incorporate them with skills assessments and projects. If you can’t validate the data from more than one source, you have no way of ensuring you’re getting the right answers, instead of the answers the candidate thinks you want to see.

Personality testing can offer a lot of value in helping you to choose talent from pools, match candidates to teams, and choose candidates based on competencies shown to contribute to long-term success. Doing so can help you to improve the quality of hires, to reduce churn, and to improve communication in teams once the new hire settles in. Remotely, you primarily have to consider validating and verifying results, because it’s significantly easier to change input and much harder to tell what someone is actually like. Therefore, supplementing pre-hiring assessments with calls, live reviews, and work assignments will help a great deal.


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Screening for Distributed Workforces: Traits to Look for in Distance Employees

Organizations are more and more often supporting flex and remote work, with employees who come into office a few days a week or not at all. Globally, some 50% of professionals work out of the office at least two and a half days a week.

These shifts allow for greater flexibility, personal time, and reduces costs for the employee and the company, as well as greater opportunity for safety in light of a global pandemic.

At the same time, allowing or asking employees to work from home means asking them to work in a completely different environment, necessitating different soft skills and different competencies.

If you’re hiring new people in this environment, hiring for remote work should be part of screening. That means looking for traits and competencies that allow people to succeed and thrive in a changing environment.

Importantly, if you’re eventually planning to switch back to full time in-office work, it’s important to screen for that as well.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Emotional intelligence is often recognized as the number one soft skill for leaders. But, it’s also incredibly important for distributed workforces. Emotional intelligence or EQ is a trait best described as awareness and perception of your emotions and those around you, and the ability to regulate your own emotions.

While emotional intelligence is a hugely positive trait in any employee, it becomes more so when employees interact with each other at a distance. Collaboration often requires individuals to empathize with and understand the other. Communicating, sharing, and engaging in a functional way requires that same empathy. And, empathy is harder to establish when you don’t see your colleagues in the office every day.

People with emotional intelligence can gauge coworker’s reactions to a statement, offer useful criticism, and act in ways that benefit their team. Someone who is emotionally intelligent can review their colleague’s emotional states, respond to people in ways that elicit the hoped for responses, and be conscientious of how requests, comments, and actions make others feel.

Self-Driven and Self-Motivating Traits

Self-motivation is a critical trait when employees work in their own spaces, without top down management. Remote work often relies on employees taking initiative, performing work, and doing so without someone constantly checking or managing what and how they are doing it. Self-driven and motivated employees are more likely to get up in the morning, do work, and have free time and a healthy work-life balance, whether or not they have to work traditional hours.

Persons without that motivation are more likely to have uneven schedules, to spend long periods procrastinating starting work, and to only pick up items when they are specifically assigned. Because it’s cheaper and more effective to hand remote employees a goal and to allow them to work on that goal with as little oversight as possible, the former is significantly better.

While it can be difficult to assess for self-driven and self-motivation traits in pre-employment screening, there are many ways to look for those traits. They include screening for elective education and self-improvement, personal hobbies, and similar. They can also include electives added on to the assessment, which employees can choose to take.

Communication Skills

Communication is a quality skill in any environment. It’s more so when people can’t check in with others to quickly see what they are doing, what they are working on, or if they need help. Remote workers need to seamlessly communicate progress, issues, bottlenecks, and offer assistance to their team to make things worse.

This means the candidate:

  • Easily and naturally offers progress updates and is willing to check in
  • Documents their work as a matter of course
  • Is fluent with different communication tools including video chat, chat apps, etc.
  • Can manage and maintain multiple lines of communication
  • Can voice their needs and feedback in ways that are understandable to others

Communication skills are a must-have for most offices. And, as a soft skill, they are difficult to train in. For many, they improve as individuals adjust to work routines and to colleagues. However, anyone in remote work needs a strong foundation in these skills to succeed.

Task and Time Management

Task and time management include a range of skills like prioritization, managing how long they spend on tasks, and appropriately scheduling tasks so that they can be completed on deadline, without stress. This is especially important when people are likely to be either home, in an environment that is likely to have distractions (chores, pets, children, partners), or in public spaces. Without company policy and bosses around to motivate people to finish up and clock out, people need to be able to manage their time and tasks.

  • How well does the candidate prioritize tasks?
  • How well does the candidate manage time, e.g., time per section on an assessment that’s too long to be completed in the available time
  • Is the candidate familiar with using digital planning tools for project management and task management? Are they familiar with the option your team uses?
  • Is the candidate able to sit down and focus on a task to complete it within a reasonable amount of time, without being held accountable?

Time management is difficult to gauge as a skill but you will quickly see large differences between individuals with and without a strong ability to manage their time.

Adaptability

Digital work environments are constantly changing. Employees might be asked to work in-office, in the home, and in changing digital environments. You need people who can quickly move back and forth between different work environments.

You also need people who can function with different levels of autonomy. If people move to an office and are largely autonomous in how and when they work but then are required to move into strict 8-hour days with a team lead guiding their work, they have to be flexible enough to make that shift.

  • Are there differences between face-to-face performance in interviews and virtual interviews?
  • How does the candidate perform in virtual tasks versus in-office ones?
  • Does the candidate exhibit a preference for strict routines and processes?
  • Can the candidate switch between different assessment methods or between different styles of communication fluently?

Many people can be relatively inflexible and still be good at remote jobs. At the same time, they’re less likely to be able to move back and forth between different work environments until both become a routine.

Tech Savvy

Digital work is performed in digital spaces. Remote workers must navigate project management tooling, collaboration tooling, and the tooling where they perform their work. Depending on the role, this might be as simple as Microsoft Office and a suite of project management tools.

Whatever those tools are, your candidate must be able to quickly adapt to and succeed in changing digital environments, even if you change tooling. This means it’s more important to look for candidates who can adapt to new technologies quickly rather than people who are fluent in the specific tools you already use.

Digital and distributed workforces are becoming more common. Many organizations are forced into them as employees demand more flexible working conditions, cheaper labor is available elsewhere, and safety concerns push for remote work opportunities. Whatever the reason, it’s important that you take the needs of a distributed workforce into account when screening for and hiring for those roles.


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5 Most Valuable HR Assessments in 2021

HR assessments are designed to automate and optimize skills, competency, performance, and leadership reviews against existing frameworks and databases. HR is increasingly taking on roles including hiring, employee management, leadership training, employee development, talent retention, talent training, and organizational behavior.

Providing human resources teams with assessments gives those teams the tools they need to perform those roles well, highlighting and choosing the best candidates, making decisions based on a wider pool of available data, and using information to guide decision-making. 

Human resources is the pivotal point between your organization and its people, capable of guiding your organization to a better, brighter future. Good assessments aid in that decision-making, providing insight, answers to questions, and automatic type matches that would be difficult to achieve through human intuition alone.

Today, the HR assessment market is mature enough that you can typically find multiple choices for the same types of assessments, with options to custom-build a solution for your organization. The best also offer customization, with talent and assessment firms delivering personalization based on your organization’s employees and specific needs. This allows nearly any HR assessment to fit your business and provide value. At the same time, it’s important to review options, highlight which have the most added value in your organization, and move forward from there. The following include 5 of the most valuable HR assessments for 2021.

360 Feedback 

Checkpoint and other providers deliver thorough employee assessment, not just from people in charge, but also from peers and employees. 360-Feedback or 360-Degree Feedback assessments typically incorporate self-assessment as well as feedback from everyone who works with an individual to deliver a complete picture of the person’s work environment to HR.

360-Degree assessments are most valuable for organizations with a large number of employees who have worked in a company for 1-5 years. Statistically, accuracy drops when individuals are very new or when other employees might have a bias and be motivated to rate their colleagues very well because they know them very well.

How does it deliver value? 360-Degree feedback scores give HR insight into how someone is doing from every perspective. This can aid in personal and development opportunities, team-matching, and in aligning scoring with competencies such as emotional intelligence and self-awareness. The largest benefit is that it helps you to understand what an employee needs to do more in their team, whether that’s new skills, better communication, or nothing at all.

DiSC

DiSC Profiles assess personality and behavior, aligning individuals with 4 major types (D, I, S, or C). These personalities include:

Dominant – People who emphasize results and tend to achieve them in a confident way 

Influence – Individuals who are communicative and good at relationships and influencing or persuading others 

Steadiness – Dependable individuals who value cooperation and sincerity 

Conscientiousness – Those who value quality, accuracy, expertise, and competency over other goals 

DiSC delivers a range of profile assessments inside this framework, helping HR to match employees to roles, to positions inside a team, and to each other. For example, DiSC personalities allow HR to build teams that are able to get others on board, are able to work in a dependable way, value quality and accuracy, and who still have a leader. DiSC is an essential assessment for good teambuilding. 

Many organizations also see value in improving conflict management by helping individuals to better understand their colleagues, in training and personal development (by delivering goals and training the person’s values), and delivering insight to leadership. This can greatly improve how teams function together by helping you streamline communication and team makeup.

EQ-i 2.0

EQ-i 2.0 is an assessment designed to gauge emotional intelligence and how that person’s emotional intelligence interacts in the workplace. Assessing emotional intelligence can be critical to improving it, which in turn adds value to leadership, communication, teamwork, and learning.

Helping individuals to understand how well they control and understand their own emotions can also motivate them to work on and improve that control. Similarly, helping someone see that they aren’t acting or behaving in an emotionally intelligent way is often strong motivation to boost people into improving.

Emotional intelligence is often considered to be one of the most valuable workplace skills. It contributes to communication, interpersonal relationships, and collaboration. Understanding how people score, where they can improve and what they can improve will only help.

Profile XT

Profile XT assessments integrate into nearly every aspect of hiring, pre-screening, work management, role management, and leadership management. XT assessments essentially function as a minimal compliance framework, gauging behavior, skills, thinking, aptitude, and reasoning with over 20 performance indicators. This assessment eventually allows HR to align hiring, to assess individuals for specific roles, and to match candidates to roles and teams. 

This comes into play long-term for teambuilding, as part of performance management, for personal development, and for leadership and succession planning. Essentially, it’s an easy way to integrate a complete compliance assessment into the organization, providing much of the value of looking at competencies, while remaining very accessible.

ESkill

ESkill is one of the largest pre-employment screening and assessment companies in the world. The organization delivers hundreds of role and subject-based assessments, with modular programs designed to adjust to match the needs of multifaceted roles. ESkill also integrates video and computer assessments, so prospective candidates can take assessments in formats that suit the needs of the provider. 

Skills assessments are a hugely important part of hiring, of long-term development, and in role-matching. They ensure that individuals, even in remote and external roles, can immediately step in and take on roles, can perform to the requirements of the role, and can perform despite or to the qualifications listed on resumes. 

HR assessments offer value for hiring managers, to recruiters, and to teams looking to match ideal candidates. They play a role in team building, conflict resolution, communication, and collaboration. And, they integrate into personal development and succession planning, giving HR insight into their people, what they need, and how to deliver those changes. Hopefully these assessment options give you some idea of where to start when selecting your solutions. 


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Why schools need career guidance and assessments

Today’s world offers an array of possible career options for students, and the choices seem more plentiful than ever. However, it also doubles the responsibility of career counselors and schools, as students have to choose wisely in order to start preparing for their future careers as early as possible.

The initiative of having career assessment services in schools brings numerous benefits to students and should ideally be standardized in every country and educational establishment.

Even though there is still a long way to go, schools and universities can already start introducing minor changes in order to facilitate smart career choices for their students.

The benchmarks of efficient career guidance by Gatsby

The Gatsby Charitable Foundation set in 1967 covers multiple areas of interest, including education. Thus, it is interesting to know that Gatsby came up with eight career guidance benchmarks that are recommended for any organization and establishment that aims to provide career guidance services:

  1. A stable careers program
  2. Learning the latest information from the labor market
  3. Addressing the needs and interests of every student
  4. Linking school program to careers
  5. Meetings with potential employers (and employees)
  6. Real working experience
  7. Meetings with representatives from universities
  8. Personal guidance for the students

As can be seen from these benchmarks, Gatsby formed a clear vision of a solid and efficient career guidance program that can be implemented by any educational establishment. But is it really needed? Let’s have a closer look at the benefits that career guidance brings.

The link between school programs and real-life careers

The biggest problem of almost any school program is the gap between provided material and real life. For example, many former students can confidently tell you they never really needed in-depth knowledge of the plant-cell components in their life. And this is just one example.

While more and more schools have been adjusting their programs, the issue of irrelevance is still a concern. With this in mind, schools that wish to provide valuable career guidance should start linking the programs to real-life careers.

An example would be teaching about writing business correspondence in English classes or learning useful calculations related to accounting in math. The main point here is that the students should understand the importance of the classes and realize that the school material will be useful in their further work.

Assistance in understanding goals and interests

As mentioned above, the large number of possible career options may confuse a student, especially if he or she does not yet know what they’d like to do in life. Thus, career guidance can assist in understanding their interests and goals for the future.

During the meeting with the counselor, a student can learn about their own strengths and weaknesses through assessment tests, discover all the future possibilities, and gradually form a vision of what he or she would like to do.

Career guidance can become a great starting point and help a student understand what kind of subjects and knowledge will be needed in the future. As well, a student will get an evaluation of their personal traits and skillsets to see whether they match a desired career.

Insight into the labor market

The labor market changes at an incredible speed, and students need to be aware of these changes in order to choose relevant occupations. This is one of the benefits that career guidance brings – the insight into the labor market and its requirements.

Career guidance provides students with information on in-demand skills and knowledge that different industries require. The better the students are prepared for the industry demands, the earlier they can start getting ready and planning their future steps (i.e. the choice of extra subjects or activities).

To provide students with real-time information on the industry, schools and universities can invite industry representatives such as employers and employees so students can meet them and ask questions in order to learn first-hand experience and get valuable advice.

Guidance through the possible options

When students think about the future, some may only have vague ideas about their possible options. Career counseling services are aimed at helping students understand all the possible options and choose the most suitable one.

For students, it is important to understand that there can always be a “plan B” and there is more than one option. Career counselors can also remind students about the possibility for internships in order to obtain practical experience in the industry and see whether it fits their interests.

Assistance with career-related activities

While a school program may have accounting and business English classes, it usually does not teach students what to say during an interview, what to include in a resume, how to dress for an interview, and how to watch body language. So career guidance is aimed to close this gap and assist students with real-life career-related activities.

A career counselor should invest time and effort into helping students understand some of the core business processes, assist with writing resumes, and conduct interview simulations. In this way, a student will be prepared in advance and will have much higher chances to succeed during a future interview.

Final word

Career assessment serves both as a source of valuable information for a student (i.e. unveils one’s interests and strengths) and as an assistant that helps prepare for the future work by learning the insights from the industry, meeting the industry representatives and linking the knowledge obtained in school with the labor market demands.

Thus, every educational establishment should consider implementing and standardizing career guidance services. However, it is not enough to just launch a program – counselors themselves should be genuinely interested in helping young people finding their perfect career and in guiding students towards their goals.


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4 Essential Personality Tests for Strategic Recruitment

It’s likely your company will already have screening measures in place when hiring new candidates.

Screening for factors such as work history, educational background, drug use and criminal background are routine recruitment practice across many organizations.

But what about personality? How does your company ensure the candidate your hiring is the best fit the role, your business and the wider company team? By using personality tests during recruitment, you can strategically ensure that you are hiring the best possible candidate for the role.

Benefits of using personality tests for recruitment

There can be many advantages to using personality tests during your hiring process. In today’s competitive market, personality tests can help you narrow down the candidate pool before they even reach the in-person interview stage.

At the interview stage, personality tests can help the interviewer ask questions that delve deeper into the skills and behaviors demonstrated in the personality assessment results. This allows the interview to gauge a deeper understanding of the applicant and whether they would be a suitable fit for the team, role and organization.

When interviewing candidates, it’s important to ensure you don’t get blindsided by their charm or the initial impression they’ve made. Although a candidate may make a great first impression in the interview, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right person for the job. Using personality tests alongside your existing recruitment strategy offers a more rounded and accurate representation of the candidates personality, competencies and working style. All of which will help eliminate any biases created by those first impressions upon meeting the candidate.

Personality tests you need to use in recruitment

There’s an array of personality tests available to choose from. So many in fact that it can be hard knowing which personality test is the right one to use in your recruitment process. To help you get the most out of personality tests for hiring, we’ve evaluated the most popular personality tests for recruitment and devised this list of the four essential personality tests for strategic recruitment. Measuring a variety of candidate metrics, these personality tests can be used together or in isolation to ensure you choose the most suitable candidate. By using these tests to understand the personality and emotional intelligence of your chosen candidate you can help set them up for success in their new career.

Myers Briggs

One of the most widely known and used personality tests is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment. This personality assessment has helped millions of people worldwide gain insights about themselves and how they interact with others. Used by over 88% of Fortune 500 companies, the MBTI assessment can be described as the go-to framework for people development across the world.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator assessment comprises 16 different personality types based upon Carl Jung’s theory of psychological type. The MBTI assessment is a great indicator of cultural fit. Understandings from this personality test can help HR employees to manage personal development, support team and leadership training, diffuse workplace conflicts and evaluate career change, and transitions.

It’s important to note that the Myers Briggs personality test shouldn’t be used as an indicator of performance. Instead, it should be used to inform decisions about whether or not the applicant would be a good cultural fit for the company and the team.

DISC profile

The DISC profile has far fewer personality traits that the Myers Briggs personality test; four to be precise. These 4 personality traits are reflected in the name of the personality test which is an acronym for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. The Everything DISC profile is a shorter and more user friendly version of the DISC personality assessment making it great for use during the interview stage of the hiring process.

The DISC personality test is great for measuring a job applicant’s temperament. However, DISC is ipsative which means it isn’t possible to compare candidate results to one-another. Without the ability to compare test takers’ scores, the test can’t be used to predict future behavior. Instead, DISC should be used to review the potential strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.

Profile XT®

If you’re looking for a pre-employment screening test that is multi-purpose, the Profile XT assessment is exactly what you need. Covering pre-employment screening, selection, development, training, managing, and succession planning, this personality test is an all-encompassing assessment for evaluating the suitability of job candidates.

This employee assessment measures how well an individual fits specific jobs in your organization, and the results can be used during the training or succession planning stages. The Profile XT is customizable allowing you to alter the test to suit your company requirements.

Thanks to its extensive nature, including 20 performance indicators, behavioural traits, interests, aptitude, thinking and reasoning, the Profile XT assessment can be used for candidate matching. As a result, you are able to compare candidates, deduce how well suited each of them are to the role, and find the best-matched candidate for that specific job.

California Psychological Inventory

During the hiring process, it can be difficult to determine how a candidate will handle workplace challenges, relationships and tasks. Understanding a candidate’s competencies and, in particular, how they may react under certain circumstances is crucial for confidently evaluating whether they’ll be successful in the role they’re applying for.

The California Psychological Inventory (CPI) can help remove the guesswork around candidate competencies. This personality assessment offers feedback on work-related characteristics such as sociability, conceptual understanding, and independence. By assessing these characteristics, the CPI can forecast how candidates may react under specific circumstances.

Role-specific personality tests

When hiring for a specific role, you may find that there are role-specific personality tests that you can use to determine candidate suitability.

The Profiles Sales Assessment can be used to measure how well an applicant fits a Sales role so that you can optimize your company sales performance. For customer service roles, you can use the Customer Service Profile to see whether an applicant has the right behavioral characteristics to provide outstanding customer service. Moreover, when hiring for a managerial role it’s important that they will fit the company and team dynamic. By using the Profiles Managerial Fit assessment you can evaluate whether an applicant has the correct managerial style to suit the required supervisor-subordinate relationship.

Personality assessments for improving future performance

It’s important to continue with personality assessments after the hiring process. By testing employees frequently throughout their career, you can evaluate performance and help candidates further themselves with their career.

Personality tests can be advantageous for your organization. By integrating personality assessments into your candidate screening process and employee training program, you can leverage employee happiness and productivity and, in turn, boost the success of your organization.


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How to improve dysfunctional team performance with behavioral assessments

A dysfunctional team is one that consistently loses performance by failing to work and collaborate together in a professional or desirable way. Problems arising in teams and between team members are one of the major problems contributing to loss of performance but solving them can be difficult.

This is especially true because team dysfunction can stem from direct leadership (managers, Scrum leaders, etc.), leaders (business direction, business policy), and from individuals.

Stepping back to assess problems and recognize where things are going wrong is one of the first steps to solving those issues, and in many teams, it will often reveal issues with communication, emotional intelligence, and ego. This may be cultural or local to the team, but should be corrected, and quickly.

One study showed that negative behavior in teams is effective for most dysfunction, although negative behavior may stem from poor soft skills, lack of motivation from leadership, poor leadership, or other issues.

Understanding Teams and Their Leaders

Dysfunctional teams are reflections of a whole. It’s difficult to have healthy leaders or team members if either is unhealthy. But it’s critical to review both independently to look for the source of dysfunction. Chances are, you will find issues with both, but they might both be different and unrelated.

Personality Mapping

Understanding individual personalities that make up a team is important for ensuring teams align in terms of communication style, emotional intelligence, work ethic, work method, and social needs. MBTI shows there are 16 basic personality types and not all of them get along. Team conflicts may stem from simple issues relating to different methods of communication.

For example, a team lead might be communicating in strict, pragmatic instructions to a team made up of mostly creative people who need freedom to do things in their own way, resulting in stifled creativity and dropping morale. In some cases, direct personality clashes can also result in constant or regular conflict, sparking issues throughout the team.

In addition, understanding the personalities of the people on your teams can help with improving performance across the organization. Team composition based on personality is increasingly regarded as important to performance and individual happiness, because a mix of personalities functions better, is more creative, and can collaborate in ways that a silo of similar personalities will not.

Most team frameworks are based on personality assessments like MBTI or The Big 5 but will help you to see where different people complement or clash with each other.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, emotional quotient or EQ is increasingly seen as crucial to how people function together. Emotional intelligence can be defined as a measure of how people recognize their own emotions and those of others, use that information to guide behavior and thoughts, and manage or adjust emotions and thoughts to other people and to achieve goals. EQ dates back to the 1960s, but was popularized by David Goleman, who argues that 67% of leadership and team goals can be met with EQ rather than IQ.

Measuring EQ with assessments like EQ-I 2.0 can help you to understand how well people are communicating. This can be important, especially in instances where some people are emotionally intelligent and others are not.

People who are not emotionally intelligent can come off as rude, impolite, and hurtful. Leaders lacking emotional intelligence can deeply damage morale. Like other soft skills, EQ is a learnable skill and there are workshops, courses, and books on the market to help teams develop those behaviors.

Asking Questions

Sometimes, dysfunctional behavior builds up over time, typically in relation to a few incidents that slowly get worse. What started out as a single toxic person can result in an incredibly dysfunctional team, despite the team otherwise being functional. This type of behavior is difficult to assess without actually going in, asking questions, and seeing how the team works first-hand. Swapping leaders, implementing behavior coaches, and implementing workshops can be a good way to assess this behavior.

Solving Dysfunctional Behavior

It’s difficult to assess a team and immediately recognize where problems are from and why. In some cases, problems stem from processes and bureaucracy. In others, it’s simply teams not working together. And, in others, it’s poor leadership. It’s important to be open minded and unbiased, which potentially means having assessments completed by a third-party.

Problem: Disagreements are not addressed but are problematic

Team members frequently disagree but feel unable to discuss problems or resolve them. This can lead to unhealthy interpersonal conflict and dropping morale. This lack of trust will result in lack of team collaboration because individuals won’t ask for help or feedback, won’t utilize the skills or strengths of others, and, in short, won’t be part of a team.

Solution – Review why teams fail to discuss problems and implement solutions to fix those issues. For example, if teams feel they aren’t listened to, implementing EQ workshops may be a good solution.

Healthy debates should be encouraged, even if encouragement involves creating team-building exercises and working to solve negative behavior such as others calling out individuals in unhealthy ways. Getting over this type of issue may require acknowledging and working on specific instances in personal history.

Problem – People talk about each other behind their backs

This can lead to silos, “cliques” and “us versus them” behavior, and often ripples out from leadership.

Solution – Assess root problems, implement workplace ethics workshops, and stage workshops on having healthy upfront discussions where people feel free to share criticism to each other.

This may also stem from leaders feeling unable to offer criticism to someone who is “emotional”, which likely means the leader needs communication or emotional intelligence training. Feedback should always be given directly to the person, not to anyone else on the team.

Problem – Not everyone contributes

Healthy teams discuss things together. Dysfunctional teams typically rely on one or two people who take up all the time, space, and air. This can stem from people not being listened to, from the leader feeling like they have the only voice, and people simply not feeling as though they can speak up. In a worst-case scenario, people will either pretend to be on board with ideas they don’t agree with or will remain silent, but will end up working on solutions they don’t agree with or like.

Solution – Implement team-building exercises such as role-swapping, create mandatory speaking roles for everyone in the team, and have leaders specifically call out individuals to ensure everyone contributes. Discussion and debate lead to productive creativity and collaboration. Teams have to acknowledge that a certain amount of conflict is productive.

Problem – Teams work aimlessly

Often, this means that communication style doesn’t line up between how projects are communicated and how teams prefer to work. This can result in teams over analyzing and wasting energy or lacking confidence or feeling stifled by too much structure.

Solution – Assess how people communicate and work to match leadership, project, and team styles up as much as possible. Most organizations have space for every type of leader, assessing team types and matching leadership to that team is the best way to solve this issue.

Dysfunctional teams are everywhere, but the causes of dysfunction are often multifaceted. It’s important to assess the full culture including leadership, individual interaction, individuals, and company culture to determine what might be wrong and why. Only then can you implement the right solutions to create teams that stay healthy for the long-term.


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Choosing the Right Assessment for Your HR Needs

Personality and behavior assessments help organizations streamline screening and selection processes using validated and predictive data. This can give insight into not only what makes individuals successful in the organization and in their roles, but also into how people fit together, communicate, complement each other, and contradict each other. Highly effective assessments afford near-seamless options for HR to get a deeper look at candidates, driving better decisions and reducing turnover.

But, with dozens of assessment options on the market, choosing one can be difficult. HR and recruitment professionals are left with the task of narrowing options with the need to show immediate results and return on value to finance. Doing so can be difficult. It can also be a mistake.

Good assessments are made up of multiple assessment tools, typically using frameworks built on multiple assessment types and combining personality, behavioral, competency, and other assessments. In many cases, the same assessments are not valuable across every role or for every individual. So, HR professionals are recommended to create selection criteria and use that to choose a range of tools that will create a better picture of the individual.

Set Goals for Recruitment

Recruitment goals should align with long-term business goals, short-term business changes, and meeting team and culture needs. Chances are, these goals are already defined inside your organization and you can simply adopt them.

Most recruitment professionals also have secondary goals such as:

  • Creating a better recruitment experience for candidates
  • Reducing the cost versus quality of hiring
  • Reducing turnover
  • Improving employee happiness and therefore reducing churn
  • Making unbiased but quality hires

Each of these goals can help you target which assessments you might need depending on selection criteria.

Set Goals for Assessments

What should your assessment do? In most cases, a good assessment will fulfill at least the following goals:

  • Deliver objective and legally defensible information into the hiring process
  • Create a cost-effective and efficient interview process by integrating behavioral and personality testing to highlight desirable or undesirable traits
  • Reduce the need to use hunches and impressions in the hiring process
  • Increase understanding of the candidate’s skills, behavior, preferences, and personality
  • Equip HR with the tools to develop employees and teams and make selections based on that goal

Most assessments fall into a few categories including:

  • Technical skills test (e.g., Excel test)
  • Cognitive ability test (OPM or Harver)
  • Situational judgment test
  • Communication skills test
  • Job simulation test
  • Competency assessment (typically soft skills rather than hard)
  • Behavioral assessment (may overlap with competency)
  • Personality assessment (MBTI)

You can then choose which of these are most relevant to your organization. Here, many organizations can drop technical skills tests (technical skills are easy to train, except where advancement in those skills is crucial to success), to focus on factors such as behavior that influence actual performance. For example, it’s a lot easier to teach a candidate Excel than it is to teach an affinity for numbers and pattern recognition, or a high sense of personal motivation.

Reliability and Validity

Reliability and validity are two incredibly important factors to consider when choosing HR assessments. Here, most are scored based on data on how often individuals score the same on a test.

However, most assessments are scored by their manufacturers or by companies selling those services, so you may want to invest in personal research if you doubt results.

For example, the MBTI foundation publishes that test-takers receive the same results on assessments 75-90% of the time.

Validity is also incredibly crucial. Validity refers to whether an assessment can be validated or not. Most HR assessments will have validity data published online. Most organizations should also continue to collect data to validate the assessment and its results inside their own organization.

This can be difficult and expensive but is necessary to ensure continued budget and the long-term use of an assessment, based on an understanding that it works. You cannot say, “Candidates who score high on X show higher performance, so we will prioritize these candidates in the hiring process”, without validating that data.

Reliable Results

It’s crucial that any test have anti-faking measures and have measures with which to measure that candidates are lying, giving the answers they think you want to hear, and quite simply, panicking. Any test that relies on questions like “I am a hard worker” without using alternative measures to test those results in more subtle ways to validate those answers probably won’t function very well.

Once you have a test, it’s important that any HR or recruitment professionals using it actually take the assessment themselves, and hopefully multiple times. Understanding the assessment, what answering it is like, and what candidates are likely to see in relation to their role is critical to assessing whether results are reliable or not.

Customization

Many HR assessments cannot be implemented off-the-shelf. While some out-of-the-box solutions exist, most behavioral and competency assessments will have to be tweaked and updated to meet individual organization’s and should align with a behavioral or competency framework, if one is in place.

For larger organizations, this may mean adjusting assessments, assessment type, and assessment questions based on role, development tract, and whether the intended candidate is intended for eventual leadership development or not. Therefore, it may be crucial that any HR assessment framework you adopt be customizable, or that the provider offers internal analysis and setup to ensure implemented solutions meet your organization’s needs.

No matter what your organization is intending to measure, it’s critical that your assessments be up for the job. This often means choosing assessments that are scientifically validated, reliable, resistant to gaming (cheating), customizable, and able to provide diverse needs based on the candidate, the role, and the hiring manager in question.

For many organizations, this does mean choosing multiple assessments, optimizing each for their own hiring process, and creating a process to improve and further optimize those assessment over time as you begin to collect your own data.


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Behavioral approaches to improving net promoter score

Net Promoter Score or NPS has become the gold standard by which companies judge their interactions with customers. NPS was first designed by Fred Reichheld in 2003 and published in an article in the Harvard Business Review. It uses a single question, “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague” with a 1-10 scale. Most importantly, that number gives organizations a simple way to track customer loyalty and behavior.

While the NPS system has come under criticism, it remains true that customers who are willing to recommend your organization to others will grow your business. An NPS score increase of 7% typically tracks to a business growth of 1%. At the same time, initiatives to improve NPS only work if you actually understand what impacts NPS.

In most cases, a high NPS score tracks to high customer satisfaction, quality customer service, accessibility of information, and ease of service or product use. A surprisingly large number of these factors are impacted by internal company culture, or employee behavior. Why? Behavior impacts how people treat employees, how the product or service is created and delivered, and how the organization presents itself.

Encouraging Empathy (EQ)

Emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quota, is important in changing how people react and respond to each other. A highly emotionally intelligent person is able to recognize their own and the emotions of others, respond to those emotions, and keep those emotions in mind when making decisions that relate to other people. Encouraging EQ normally means testing for it and then implementing workshops and training to develop EQ where it’s lacking.

For most teams, customer service and customer assistance are the most important for this behavior. However, emotional intelligence improves productivity and collaboration across the organization, which will eventually improve performance and results, which also impact customer satisfaction and NPS.

How much does emotional intelligence impact NPS? Cowry Consulting worked with Aegon B.V. to improve NPS through customer contact center interactions. Cowry identified issues relating to lack of human depth, lack of advisor understanding of how and why customers make decisions.

Cowry implemented training to help assistants understand why people make decisions, rewrote scripts to make them more human, and redesigned how information was presented to ensure it appealed on an emotional level.

Aegon also shifted internal policy to assigning a lifetime contact to a customer, so they always connected with the same person when calling. The result was an over 36-point increase in NPS, with a 68.5% increase in sales conversions.

Build Teams that Work Together

Your teams ultimately impact everything the customer is able to get out of your organization. Building smoothly functional, productive, and collaborative teams is essential to providing a good experience and a good product.

Healthy teams communicate, work together, aren’t afraid of disagreement, let each other be heard, and consistently work to improve. Achieving this can involve a set of behavioral training, matching personalities, and changing policies to allow people to work in efficient and healthy ways. Let’s look at some examples:

Marketing and Sales

Are teams setting the right expectations during lead generation or are they simply generating as many leads as possible? Is marketing following up with sales? Is sales closing with information connected to development? Are customers pushed through the sales process as quickly as possible to raise sales numbers? Most of these problems relate to expectations set around maximum sales and maximum lead generation. They don’t result in happy customers. It’s often a result of:

  • Poor performance and compensation systems (linked to quotas, not behavior and score)
  • Competition
  • Lack of empathy or concern for the customer

Product and Design

Are people focused on how the product or service offers value? Or simply on putting out new features? Is UX a concern? Are problems checked for and removed before they reach the customer? Is quality assurance involved in every stage of the process>

  • Assess how teams are connected to customers
  • Assess how teams are put together and how communication, management, and interpersonal styles line up

Customer Service and Support

Does customer service put the customer first? Are they looking at how and why customers are making decisions? Are hold times long? How does customer service treat customers? Does support make customers happy or just fix issues and move on? What are responses when there’s no clear solution?

  • Create policies that ensure teams have room to make empathetic decisions
  • Train support professionals in communication styles, EQ, and recognizing different types of personalities
  • Implement customer personas to help support professionals learn to recognize different communication styles and needs

You also want to look at how personalities link together in each team, ensure that teams actually collaborate, and that communication styles line up.

Building Internal Motivation and Buy-In

It’s difficult or even impossible to improve Net Promoter Score without encouraging employee buy-in. This broad term encapsulates motivating employees to engage with their work as well as with the customer, because, eventually, they mean the same thing. Teams have to fully engage with their work and believe in what they are doing. While many issues here are operational (management, work processes, lack of communication relating to short and long-term goals), many also relate to behavior.

Here, it’s important to understand employees. Using personality tests, EQ assessments, and behavioral frameworks can help you to map how individuals communicate, how leadership communicates, and how you can best fit that together or improve what you have through training and communication. Healthy teams engage with work, communicate better, and eventually produce better work – resulting in happier customers and a higher Net Promoter Score.

While there are many aspects to improving NPS, behavior and behavior management is important. The more you understand how people work and work together, the more you can ensure internal and external teams behave and collaborate in ways that add value for the customer.


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