Monday, December 31, 2007

Step Four

The gap analysis reports and high-performer models should also be used to strategically manage the selection and deployment of employees. It can also be used to create succession plans. Managers can use the data to identify high-potential employees (those that add future value because of their learning agility), their team’s short and long-term skill requirements versus the skills their team presently has (benchstrength), best ‘fit’ successors for each employee, and hidden talents across the organization that could be more fully leveraged.

Step Three

Compare employee assessments to the high-performer models. The skills required to improve performance become clearly evident. Employees must clearly understand what they need to improve and be given a compelling reason to do so. Even though companies can provide employees with the opportunity to improve the employee must decide to improve and take effective actions to learn, apply, and tweak their skills. A database of effective developmental solutions for each skill must be generated. Then employees can select from those solutions (self-paced reading, online or instructor-led courses, observation of experts, etc.) and add them to a Learning Plan. Managers can also use Learning Plans to coach employees on what is required to achieve acceptable levels of performance when an unacceptable trend is identified. To aid employees in the process of real skill development (learning--> application --> feedback --> course correction) they must receive ongoing feedback from trusted sources that are affected by the use of that skill.

Step Two

Use subject matter experts to identify the activities required to accomplish the objectives for a specific job family or position (focus on the future objectives, not the past). Then they should identify the skills required to effectively execute the activities (both interpersonal and technical can be identified, but the technical are most important at this point). Define each skill and assess employees (via tests or multiple raters) that are in that position or that job family against the skill to determine how skilled they are. Then look for the skills that are common to the highest performers based on the assessments. These are the most important skills and should be saved as a high-performer model. For selection purposes, use the competencies that are common to the high performers, but not the low performers (these are called 'differentiators').

Step One

Taking the past, present, and future trends in your company’s industry draft a five-year strategic plan. Cascade this plan into functional objectives, team objectives, and individual objectives with clear metrics. Measure individual progress against these metrics using ratings by the people who are actually impacted by the performance (not just the employee’s boss). Provide team leaders, functional leaders, and executives with ongoing status reports that show performance rolling up into the team, functional, and strategic plans so that leaders can manage by exception in real-time.

Step One

Taking the past, present, and future trends in your company’s industry draft a five-year strategic plan. Cascade this plan into functional objectives, team objectives, and individual objectives with clear metrics. Measure individual progress against these metrics using ratings by the people who are actually impacted by the performance (not just the employee’s boss). Provide team leaders, functional leaders, and executives with ongoing status reports that show performance rolling up into the team, functional, and strategic plans so that leaders can manage by exception in real-time.

The Steps Required to Build a Strategic Human Capital Asset Management Team

There is an accurate and applicable body of research on how to determine what differentiates the best performers from all others. This research has been put into practical use in several companies and had a terrific impact on performance at the company and individual level. Whether it is called competency-based HR practices, human capital management systems, talent management, or some other buzz word term, the steps for determining what differentiators are and how to leverage them to improve performance is known and can be applied at any company.

Factors That DO NOT Predict Performance

The first question often raised in competency model research is which factors truly differentiate performance? If you look at actual business practices you would assume the list of factors goes well beyond interpersonal and technical skills. Most job descriptions and training classes cover such things as professional experiences, industry experience, physical environment conditions, physical ability, education, licenses or certifications, employee tenure, and intelligence. However, each of these factors has one or more critical faults:
  • We cannot quantify the lessons gained from a professional experience, but we can identify the technical or interpersonal skills that were gained or improved after that experience.
    Having worked in a particular industry does not make a difference unless specific skills were gained as a result. Those should be evaluated as technical skills and not assumed based solely on industry experience.
  • The physical environment is managed by a person’s interpersonal and technical skills. Successful performance in a specific environment (ergonomics) is based on those abilities more than any previous experience in such an environment.
  • Accessibility requirements are being challenged more frequently through the legal system so an employee’s physical abilities are less of barrier to performance than his/her skills at managing his/her physical abilities via resources. More and more companies are being required to provide such resources.
  • Most education systems, including training programs, are too generic to provide a performance edge. Instead it is the motivation of the students and their ability to synthesize and use information (skills) that determines the value of the classes. The classes themselves offer no value and the average retention rate of students in any environment is six to twelve percent.
  • Being certified or having a license is no guarantee of performance. If there is a legal or regulatory requirement for such status then consider the requirement a ‘price of admission’ item and omit it from the position model.
  • Length of employment is in no way correlated with job performance. Having spent a great deal of time with the same company or in the same position does not guarantee continued success in that position (requirements change over time for every position) or in the next level higher in the organization (the Peter Principle shows us that a unique set of skills are required at every level from managing work to people to process to strategy).
  • Intelligence is a favorable predictor of performance up to a point. In excess of 120 IQ seems to be a problem in leadership positions and lower IQ’s can have an adverse affect on positions that require highly technical skills. However, there are no IQ tests currently available that fairly assess everyone. All existing testing instruments produce prima facie evidence of discrimination in their results, often discriminating against black males. Also, it is not always how smart you are in terms of performance it is whether you use your intelligence to perform or to learn how to perform. That ability is affected more by interpersonal skills than intelligence.

How to Address Competency Model Challenges

Challenge: Items are too generic
Solution: Generic content is good at providing a baseline from which a company can jump-start the development of skills lists, but only internally built or refined lists can account for the specific industry, market, and culture of an organization.
Challenge: Items don’t allow comparisons between exempt and non-exempt positions
Solution: The tool must capture skills important at all levels and also drill into skills that are specific to key positions. Assessing employees against all items then allows for cross-level comparisons.
Challenge: Content based on self-serving assumptions
Solution: The tool must be based on independent research from noteworthy individuals and institutions only.
Challenge: Content not updated as conditions change
Solution: Content must be revisited annually as the performance objectives change to meet market conditions.
Challenge: Compound items
Solution: The list must be longer than currently in use to separate potential differentiators, but it should be categorized and drillable to maintain speed of use.
Challenge: US-centric
Solution: Only globally valid personality traits should be used, and value must be defined internal to the organization based on actual performance outcomes.

Challenge: Tool is cutting-edge, not grounded in reality
Solution: Best practices from leading organizations should be borrowed and barriers realized by companies implementing such systems should be proactively mitigated instead of making guinea pigs out of clients.
Challenge: Focus is on what is done instead of what should be done
Solution: Begin by cascading company strategy down into functional and then team objectives and roll those down into position objectives to define importance of jobs and activities.
Challenge: Leaders are disengaged
Solution: Engage leaders throughout the process as subject matter experts, participants, raters, and users. Provide them with their own online dashboard of real-time outputs so that they can manage by exception and leverage expert advice more effectively.

Challenge: Results are confidential
Solution: The use of Q-sorting (forced prioritization of skills) results not only in greater accuracy and consistency amongst raters, it is not possible to skew results or adversely impact another employee. If the company wishes to use validated, self-administered tests instead then the results are also non-political.
Challenge: Cannot be accurately measured
Solution: Use only measurable or observable descriptors and clearly define each skill at three levels, basic through expert.
Challenge: Scores are inconsistent
Solution: By tying importance to actual objectives and using Q-sorting consistency will increase, but the system must also focus on the realities of performance: you must hit the numbers and satisfy a variety of stakeholders. All points on the 3 or 5-point scale must also be clearly defined.

Challenge: Information overload
Solution: Use only the key success factors consistently identified in independent research, interpersonal and technical skills.
Challenge: Complex results build dependency on consultant
Solution: Use a sixth-grade reading level in the development of all skill lists and system interfaces, avoid jargon unless it is specific to the company being served, and ensure that all processes and reports are intuitive.
Challenge: Bias and discrimination
Solution: When actual performance-differentiating factors are used to build decision-supporting reports these reports are blind to traditional problems such as job descriptions built to hire a specific individual, visibility being based on your boss’ personal opinion, and data being inherently biased toward people who are like the creator of the tool.
Challenge: Serve the integrated strategic human capital asset management team
Solution: Focusing on the differentiating factors to build models of high performers provides information that drives the management of assessment, selection, development, deployment, succession, and performance. Instead of using analysis tools to determine status and pay, use the FLSA guidelines to determine status and local market data and performance to determine pay.

The Shifting HR Sands

There is a shift in the way that companies are managing their people. Some of these changes are based on the shift from Personnel Departments to Human Resources Departments to the next generation of strategic human capital asset management teams. Other shifts are being imposed by the demands of line managers and executives. Finally, governments continue to require more evidence of equity and fairness in employee decisions. These changes have made many companies aware of the need to overcome the limitations of the worker-oriented job analysis tools and to automate the resulting best-practice solution.
Several progressive companies began experimenting with ‘high performance work systems’ in the 1990’s (see Mark Huselid's research and Jeffrey Kling's thesis). From those pioneers it was first determined that companies using those systems made more money per employee. Then in response to the accusation that more successful companies could afford better HR practices, follow-up research was done that showed the adoption of such work practices improved company results in key financial and non-financial performance areas (i.e. poor performing companies that invested in their HR practices became average performing companies and average performing companies became high performing companies). Essentially these systems boiled down to a few key elements: all of the human resources areas had to be integrated, this integrated team needed to focus on serving the strategic needs of the organization, and they needed to become consultants to the business leaders instead of compliance police and administrators.
Some of the shifts in the way HR was operating were in response to line manager and executive demands and some of it was based on fears of being outsourced. Other demands from company leaders that have impacted thinking about how jobs are analyzed include the leaders’ own use of such tools. Leaders did not generally support the results of the job analysis tools because: 1. they were not involved in the selection of the tool or its implementation, 2. they did not understand the results or they did not have the skills to use the results, and 3. they did not believe the reports that were generated (i.e. they questioned the validity). Being skeptical of any outsider who borrows your watch to tell you what time it is (colloquial definition of a consultant), these leaders wanted to see how these tools tied back to their business needs and they questioned the facts that the tools were not specific to the industry or company being served. The other two concerns could be more effectively addressed through the process being used, but often these same leaders did not want to be involved because they were ‘too busy’ and felt it was ‘HR’s job’. This catch-22 has been resolved by several pioneering organizations through the way they have sold and managed the process and then put it online to allow leaders instant, real-time access to decision-empowering information.
Finally, several laws and lawsuits have forced companies to focus on the end result of using job analysis tools. If these tools are to serve an integrated human capital asset management team as well as the leaders and individual contributors across an organization then they must effectively drive people decisions without any inherent bias or discrimination and they must produce opportunities to combat prima facie evidence of such problems.

The Limitations of Worker-Oriented Job Analysis

Across all worker-oriented job analysis tools a common set of serious limitations exist, especially in rating the items:

  • By removing company-specific focus these tools are blind to the reality of a company’s culture and the industry and market within which the company operates and competes. These tools are also US-centric in their focus. In fact, the non-US-based employees used to originally validate one of the competency models were 80% American expatriates.
  • None of the analysis tools looks across all employees from exempt down through non-exempt positions. Therefore no comparative data can be created to help manage employees both in their current and future positions. In the case of the management-specific tools, many of the items refer to direct reports. If an employee does not have direct reports then they are rated low in every one of those items regardless of their actual skill. A company that wants a full-service solution will need to use at least two of the listed tools, none of which clearly overlap between levels.
  • Many of the work behaviors being measured are actually compound lists. For example, the definitions of several of the competencies in one of the competency models cited refer to the same interpersonal skill. If an employee is limited in that one area it has a dramatically negative impact on the evaluation across each of the items that include that single skill.
  • Each tool is based upon assumptions that certain interpersonal skills and technical skills always go together. Without clearly separating interpersonal from technical skills, the skills that truly differentiate performance are only inferred, but not valid predictors. The vendors’ assumptions are based on their own self-serving research, not on independent research on predictive validity. These theories are also founded on an ideal instead of being grounded in business reality.
  • These tools are not updated as business conditions and markets shift. Because of the initial investment of time and energy spent in creating each tool and the pride in authorship, these tools look and feel the same today as they did when they were created ten to twenty years ago. When they are ‘re-validated’ the authors simply review the data collected on the existing items without looking outside of their own models for additional items that should be added to reflect current global business conditions.
  • The items are not consistently scored the same way by each rater. Either because several of the numerical anchors are not clearly defined (e.g. you are supposed to rate the job on a scale from 1 to 5 and 1, 3, and 5 have text descriptions, but not 2 or 4), which results in two persons meaning different things by assigning the same number, or because the description of the item has one of the problems mentioned above (i.e. the rater did not understand the language used in the tool, the person being rated had no direct reports, and/or the same skill was mentioned across several items). This variability has been raised in court when employees who feel they were adversely impacted by a decision challenged the validity of the tool that was used to make that decision.
  • The focus of the tool has been on what the employee is doing instead of what the employee should be doing. In the case of the very first analysis tools, that was evident when I/O psychologists defined the importance of an activity based on the amount of time spent doing that activity during a normal workday. With the more recent competency models, raters decide what is important based on his/her own perceptions. Consultants who use the competency models may use some benchmark research, but much of that research suffers from the same problems first mentioned in this list (not industry or culture specific). Finally, this is a process problem because no analysis should be done without considering the strategic objectives of the organization and the position’s objectives that tie back to that strategy. Unfortunately, as that reality is being addressed today, the results are still skewed in favor of the status quo because even though incumbents are superficially defining importance based on objectives, actual results consistently indicate that they are only creating profiles that match the skills that they already have instead of the skills that they should have.

Origins of Worker-Oriented Job Analysis

In the late 1950’s a compromise approach was designed to improve upon the challenges faced by both Personnel Departments and Training Departments. Worker-oriented job analysis allowed companies to analyze and compare even highly task-dissimilar jobs by using a common profile of work activities, the level of detail between job titles and task analysis. This dramatically shortened the amount of data that must be reviewed to classify jobs and provided a clear framework for the development of training classes that could be attended by members of several different functions that shared common skills.

As this technique reached maturity in the 1970’s several standardized instruments were developed to help Industrial/Organizational Psychologists complete an analysis. These tools addressed non-management positions* (usually non-exempt positions) because there were many more jobs of this type and they were more diverse. The first analysis tool for management positions** was not introduced until 1979. Following the conclusion of the 30-year management study at AT&T a host of additional worker-oriented job analysis tools for management positions were introduced and called ‘competency models’***.

Several problems plagued the non-management tools from the very beginning. They required the services of expensive I/O psychologists who created extremely complex and intellectual reports that were not usable by most managers or employees. Not only were the reports information overload, they ensured long-term dependency on the consultant to leverage the initial investment because no one else could interpret the results. The fact that only individual contributor jobs could be evaluated also meant that these tools continued to focus on legal compliance instead of impacting higher-value exempt positions.

Complex language issues also plagued the first-generation and some of the second-generation (competency model) tools for management jobs. In addition, the first generation analysis tools used terms that were too general and the behaviors could not be accurately measured or observed. In the case of the competency models the results of any measurements were unusable to the investing companies because they were confidential. This confidentiality was meant to overcome the pressure to skew results upward because, whether they should have been used for these purposes or not, persons rating the managers knew that the results of any measurement could affect pay and promotion opportunities.

* Position Analysis Questionnaire (1972), Job Element Inventory (1978), General Work Inventory (1982), and Occupation Analysis Inventory (1983) were the most popular.
** Professional and Management Position Questionnaire (1978), Position Description Questionnaire (1979), and Executive Checklist aka EXCEL (1988) were the most popular.
*** Following Bray, Campbell, and Grant’s 1974 research paper on their findings at AT&T several commercial models were created including their own (Developmental Dimensions International), Personnel Decisions International (1984), and Lominger Limited, Incorporated (1992) just to name a few.

The Origins of Task Analysis

Personnel Departments were charged with several administrative and compliance issues, one of which was the categorization of jobs. They were required to categorize jobs for two main reasons: to determine the appropriate pay range for a given position and to ensure compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) published by the Department of Labor, provides a wide range of occupational information and acted as an early guide to Personnel Departments in their quest to classify jobs and assign a pay range. However, this book was exhaustively long and burdensome to use. The same could be said for using this book to determine whether positions fell under exempt or non-exempt status according to FLSA. Later the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), published by the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Labor Statistics, broadened the categorization of jobs and decreased the size of the database that Personnel Departments had to search by 90%, but it still comprises several thousand pages of information.
The level of detail provided by these texts was sufficient for making pay and status decisions, but they were not detailed enough to help companies design training classes for new and existing employees. While the DOT and OOH listed job titles and other categorizing information they did not break jobs down into their component tasks. Employees responsible for training wanted to know exactly what steps were involved in doing the work so that they could teach those steps correctly. The process devised for finding out what work was being done and how it was being done came to be called task analysis. Whereas the Personnel Departments were content with analyzing positions at the job level to meet their requirements, Training Departments had to drill down two levels deeper – from job to activity to the required steps for each activity. The first attempts at task analysis involved asking job incumbents: 1. how much time do you spend on each activity and 2. what steps do you take an in what order to complete that activity? Task analysis resulted in long lists of fine details for each job.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lies, Damn Lies, and Succession Planning

Based on a conversation I witnessed a couple of years ago...

CEO: So, this chart indicates that we should be four-deep in this mission-critical Director position yet we only have two Directors that are capable today, one Area Manager that will be ready in 1-2 years, and four that will be ready in 3-5 years.
Consultant: Yes, exactly. Clearly you need to accelerate the development of the Manager that is only a year away from being ready and hire externally to fill the other gap.
CEO: What about the other Directors that are currently in this position? Where is the information about them?
Consultant: We found that the current Directors did not match the profiles of Directors at Fortune 500 companies that we have previously benchmarked. Their developmental needs were so large we felt that they would not be ready in 3-5 years. Therefore, they did not show up on this chart.
CEO: What are recommending that we do?
Consultant: Being a full-service consulting firm we have proposed that we assist with outplacement of displaced personnel as well as sourcing and selection of external candidates. We will also supply your company with executive coaches and training for the Manager that will be ready in one year and the four that will be ready in three to five years.
CEO: Two of the Directors that did not show up on this list led the fastest turnaround of under-performing divisions in this company’s history. One of the other Directors was the best Manager three-years running and is getting rave reviews from his peers and direct reports just four months after moving up. Did the benchmark data you are referencing focus on companies in our industry? Companies in our market? Companies with our culture?
Consultant: We benchmarked high-performing Directors in high-performing companies. By setting the bar higher we are helping you pull your company up, and thus, avoid being satisfied with average or the lowest common denominator. We have found….
CEO: What you have found is that this company is unique. And we are a solid number 2 in our industry. Tell me this, how did you determine that some people were 1-2 years from being ready and others were 3-5 years away?
Consultant: We assessed all Director and Area Managers against the competencies from our High-Performing Director Profile. As some competencies are more difficult to develop than others we calculated the time to develop the required competencies wherever there were gaps between what was in the profile and what the employees had.
CEO: What is the formula you use to calculate time to readiness?
Consultant: The partners in our firm have over 200 collective years of HR experience and we confer on all projections such as these.
CEO: So this is not a calculation of readiness this is your best guess. Did you take into account how quickly each of these Directors can learn? How receptive each is to change? Did you look at the opportunity to learn what they need to know from their present jobs? I believe that experience is one of the best teachers a man or woman can have.
Consultant: As we only used the competencies from the profile we were not able to evaluate learning agility, which you are calling quick or receptive learners. Of course, their jobs require the competencies from our profile so their jobs have those exact experiences by default. The fact that they have those gaps after being in the position for some time strengthens our case that they will take longer to learn than you seem to be suggesting.
CEO: So, if you did not assess them against enough data to determine their ‘learning agility’, did you bother to assess them against enough data to determine where they do fit in this organization?
Consultant: We would be more than happy to provide your company with additional assessments so that you can make additional succession planning decisions. That will also help us better place the incumbents who should be removed.
CEO: Maybe you are not listening to me… I am not about to remove the incumbent Directors. You have brought very limited data that is based on a benchmark that does not align with our business or our culture. You have taken a process that could easily rely on science and you have butchered it with art, opinion, circumstantial evidence, whatever you want to call it. You provided a limited view of the capabilities of each of the people you assessed in what seems to be an attempt to sell more assessments. I am afraid to ask how you determined that we should be four-deep in this position to begin with.

Fortunately for this company, the CEO knows enough to challenge the mystical art of succession planning. Whether internal or external, succession planning consultants are finding more and more highly-educated and street-smart executives questioning their practice and their recommendations. Even mainstream executives are asking tougher questions and not getting the answers they were looking for. In an age when information and technology are so ubiquitous, why are we continuing to put up with psuedo-scientists that disguise their opinion as expertise?

More than thirty years of research into executive performance and potential has resulted in some clear relationships and causal factors that should be used in any succession plan. The traits that predict success in the short and long term are known and have not changed significantly over time. The problem is that even amongst the professionals who know what those traits are there is considerable disagreement about how to use the information. In the example above the consulting firm was using a validated commercial competency model. They were also relying on well-known and documented benchmarks. They even know what ‘potential’ looks like (learning agility). Yet they failed to put it all together in a way that fully capitalizes on the most effective and scientific data collection, retention, and querying practices. As the CEO so eloquently put it, they used art instead of available science.

So, how can we take advantage of available research and best practices and avoid the art of succession planning? First, collect relevant data. Commercial competency models give you, at best, 60% of the answer. Technical competence accounts for a great deal of success as well. Always assess against all available data so that you can use that data to make all kinds of decisions. By limiting the data in the assessment the consultant above saved a few minutes of time, but now he cannot answer some very critical questions. Assess, store, and query the data from a common database. The consultant above used manual, pen-and-paper methods for storing data that was collected via an online 360 (multi-rater) assessment. To make calculations based on that data is extremely painful and probably accounts for a lot of the reasons behind why his firm uses ‘200 years of experience’ instead a mathematical formula. Even storing the data in Excel and running queries across multiple spreadsheets can be painful and requires significant spreadsheet expertise. If the data was collected and stored in a common platform then a lot of questions can be addressed to drive more effective succession decisions. This includes the ability to run queries to discover the high-performance model specific to your company. Companies wanting to replicate something that is only an aspiration and will never be a reality have thrown a lot of good money away.

It is time for executives to take control of the governance of their organizations now and in the future. The technology is there, the research is available, and successful practices have begun to withstand the test of time. Become an educated executive and you can expect to reap the benefits and avoid the pitfalls of succession planning.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Using the MBTI for Selection

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is useful when teaching the platinum rule, but it should NEVER be used as a determining factor when selecting new employees or someone for a promotion!  Like most personality assessments, the MBTI is fakable and situational.  What that means is that candidates who are willing to do whatever it takes to get hired will provide you with the answers that they believe that you desire (assertiveness for Sales and collaborative for Customer Service).  That also means that the frame of mind that you are in will affect the outcome of the assessment.  I know that I will catch a lot of flack from the purists out there, but I have asked people to take the MBTI and DiSC in a different environment each year over a period of several years and the results clearly indicate the situational nature of these assessments.  You are not the same person in front of your Mom or your priest/reverend as you are with your drinking buddies.  We all put on the appropriate mask for the various situations that we find ourselves in...

By the way, the golden rule is either "she who has the gold makes all the rules" or "treat others the way you want to be treated".  In fact, if you really want to get others to respond favorably to you then you better practice the platinum rule - "treat others the way they want to be treated".  People are not one size fits all, and your size is not the perfect size for anyone except you.

Trainer Activities to Discuss Temperament

· Separate the group into temperament groups - this exercise works best with large groups (21 or more). This exercise can be really wild and fun! Ask the group: "Using anything in your environment, create something."
· Separate the groups by temperament. Ask them to describe and write on a flipchart the qualities of a good teacher.

General MBTI Activity

A transition application between awareness and team dynamics exercises....
Time--Between 1-1.5 hours (I've never completed it in an hour).

One exercise I do that seems consistently extremely effective, and is an adaptation from one commonly done during the MBTI qualification process. Once the "awareness" exercises are complete (i.e., "like" groups together, clarifying similar type behavior),

1) Move everyone to an open space in the room (or hallway, or outside). Have everyone physically line up (from E-I), leaving as much space as needed to really represent their strength of preference. I stand in the middle, and represent "0". Careful instructions are needed! They can use their actual scores, if they want, for guidance. ( I sometimes have them already charted.)

2) Ask them to comment on what they observe from the line-up. Light bulbs start popping, and often they start saying--now I know why we/you/I ....___________! Note that a thorough grounding, and the initial exercises, have already built a foundation of understanding!
3) Ask them questions centered around their own group dynamics, their line-up, and the particular type continuum being addressed. Usually, I focus on their team meetings. For example; for E/I--
· "Who speaks up most frequently in meetings? Least?"
· "How does that affect the way information is shared, decisions are made, people feel about the meeting?"
· " Is what you experience in meetings consistent with what you see in this line-up?"
It's fun to point out that even in this (E-I) discussion, the dynamics of the group (level of participation, etc.) are usually consistent. Let it play out for a while, then consciously note the impact.
· Ask the E's, "How much have you learned about the I's?" Ask the I's, "How much have the I's learned about the E's?" "What can you do right now to alter this dynamic?"
· "How do people on (E-side, then I-side) feel about the way this dynamic plays into your meetings and discussions?" "What are some ways you might be misunderstanding the intent of what is happening?" (Usually this is quite an open, fun discussion).
· " What are some positive and potentially negative impacts of these dynamics?"
· "What can you do as a team to ensure higher levels of involvement?" (Help them think about time, e-mail, etc. as a valuable tool to leverage "I" processing, etc.)

(Can also set the stage for future discussion of Argyris' work on Ladder of Influence, etc.).

4) Chart these suggestions for them, and help them to integrate into their future meetings, etc. Have them be very behaviorally specific on their suggestions. "What could you say?" "When in your meeting could you incorporate these techniques to build consistency, good habits, etc.?"

5) Have them switch to the next three types, (S-N, T-F, J-P). I tailor each of the questions and discussions to the particular type and relative team impacts/dynamics. Note that they are standing (or wheeling), and re-aligning each time. I find this keeps the conversation moving and everyone alert. This is a great physical approach that incorporates more visual "kinesthetic" learning and reinforcement of this model. Moving to a different physical space also infuses the learning with focus and energy.

Some Concerns to Note
I find that the differences are not always clear in the outcomes of these exercises, especially in the S/N and T/F exercises. I think that's because the behavior becomes somewhat "contaminated" by the culture of the organization. Especially in more traditional technical industries (engineering-oriented, chemical, manufacturing), the N's and the F's have learned effective behavior that is often counter to their preference.

MBTI Activity - Drawing by Description

Also, clustering STJ's vs. NFP's , if you have a large enough population is fun ..... using the 'layoff example' noted above is a good one for these groups, especially if there is a large enough population of 'others' who can serve as observers of how both groups address the situation ...... video this for playback to both groups, if possible.

General MBTI Drawing Activity

I first have each person draw a metaphor for the MBTI. Then, based on the different types I have in class, I put them the ST, SF, NT and NF together in a group to draw a group picture. We then look at the differences in the group picture and also the differences in the process they took in developing the picture. The most interesting one I ever did, I had to put an SF and NF together because of the class make-up. They found a way to use both pictures but half of the picture was full of details, while the other half was extremely abstract. They did, however, work through it very well. I have saved all of the pictures my students have drawn so I can see how it unfolds over a period of time.

I probably don't need to mention this, but when I use these types of exercises, I don't tell people in advance what their type is. I cluster them according to type and then have them report out their work and notice the differences.

Judging vs. Perceiving Activities for Trainers

Judging-Perceiving (J-P) (outward preference for structure or flexibility)
distinguishes an outward preference for having things planned and organized (Judging) versus a flexible style based more on staying open to options than deciding (Perceiving).

1. Reviewing what you did last weekend.
2. Discuss a topic. I usually use "the environment" because it's something everyone can contribute *something* to, is a very broad topic (which drives the Js crazy, and illustrates their need to structure everything), and is relatively boring to the Ps, which allows them to feel all right about straying from the topic.
3. I have used an exercise where I put signs on opposite ends of the wall: "I must finish my work before I play." "I can play anytime." Then have participants line up where they feel the fall on that spectrum and explain why they are standing where they are and what each statement means to them.
4. Ask them what they would do with $100 given to them. The Judgers pay their bills, save some, and perhaps have a nice dinner. The Perceivers gamble, make more, and then spend on vacations, gambling, new stereos, etc. Or you've just inherited a large sum of money. what would you do with it ?
5. Have the groups separate and have one go outside the room. Take the first group, put them in a 'fishbowl' and have the group discuss something fairly benign for your group. I have used the environment, or the difference between the east coast and west coast. Have the group write down on a flipchart what they have discussed. Let the group tell you when they are done. Hint: be sure to look at the makeup of I/E in this exercise if possible.
6. What do you plan to do this weekend? Planning a party will also bring a lot of insight. We've seen J groups approach this like a really serious business launch. "Organized fun" was a description.
7. Use a future event for them to plan. It seems to me that you can get a better view of the divergence of the P thought process and the convergence of the J process when you're doing a "planning" activity.

Thinking vs. Feeling Activities for Trainers

Thinking-Feeling (T-F) (style of making decisions)
distinguishes a preference for deciding via objective, impersonal logic (Thinking) versus subjective, person-centered values (Feeling).

1. Divide group into smaller groups w/ all Ts in one & all Fs in other (if possible - could also mix them). They all receive and read a business/employment scenario, then have to reach consensus as a group re: what to do. Basically, the group is the board for a large company, and face a critical deadline to deliver on a product for a major client (client responsible for 40% of annual revenues). Their production manager reports he/she cannot meet this deadline, even though the client is firm and must have the product by then. A consultant has promised to deliver the product by the deadline, but the board cannot pay the consultant and the production mgr. both! The board must decide what to do re: the production mgr. I throw in other "F" info to enliven the discussion - i.e. the production mgr. is a loyal employee of 25 years, w/ solid work history & strongly respected in the co., but has been having personal problems lately & has used a lot of leave, resulting in a drop in performance, etc. Having the groups report out their decision/recommendations leads to a nice discussion of the contrasting decision-making preferences in action. Often, the groups reach the same conclusions, but the Fs generally get there by a far different route!
2. You have just been advised by your company's top management that a layoff is required ..... you are in charge of planning the downsizing and you must get it done in a short period of time. How would you go about it ? Have them flip chart brainstormed comments from their group.
3. Deal with a problem employee. (Give them facts, including both performance information and personal information.)
4. Explain to a new employee why this is a good place to work.
5. Define "marriage," in a group breakout session format (this one usually yields great examples of the differences!)
6. Deciding who gets to attend a conference in the Caribbean, or other great location.
7. I've had some problems getting a clear difference in this one. I've used a similar activity using kids - like a girl scout trip that suddenly there are not enough seats and they have to decide who gets left out. The hang-up is they get way too much into problem solving and generating alternatives and just deny having to make the decision at all. If you watch very closely you can often get the T/F stuff from the reasons they use - do they say, "It's not fair" or do they say "I don't want her feelings to be hurt", for example.
8. "That building must go" where like types play the role of building administrators who have to plan out an eviction process for all the remaining tenants because the building will be demolished in a month.
9. Ask them to define conflict. The feelers have a hard time getting started, but once they do they are in agreement, while the thinkers enjoy arguing about it and never quite reach an agreement. T sees conflict when there is
10. emotion occurring while F sees it when someone is merely critiquing the issues.

Sensing vs. Intuition Activities for Trainers

Sensing-INtuition (S-N) (style of gathering data)
distinguishes a predisposition for gathering data directly through the senses as facts, details, and precedents (Sensing) versus indirectly as relationships, patterns, and possibilities (Intuition).

1. Have the S's and N's look at an abstract painting for a few seconds, take the painting away, then have the separate groups describe the painting.
2. Give each group an apple and ask them to describe it. If you give them enough time the Sensors will have totally eaten the apple and perhaps demolished the core, while the Intuitives will return the apple to you in the same shape you gave it to them. Their descriptions also totally show the differences.
3. I give each group a clear glass containing M&Ms candies. The task is to describe (chart) what they see in the glass. Typically the S's get real sensory and eat the candy, but not until they count the 8 reds, 4 blues, etc. The N's nurses from that same group I mentioned above described M&M's as PMS food. I typically don't get that many sexual references.
4. Describe the meeting room.
5. Find as many uses as possible for a common item (a brick, perhaps).
6. Ask each group to do two different activities: for example, describe the meeting room and describe an ideal meeting room. Compare how they've done the two tasks and ask each group which task was the easiest for them.
7. I take them out into a hallway and have them describe the room we've been in. (S preferences tend to point out the details of the room, N preferences tend to not know the details but come up with some potential ways the room could be used or improved.)
8. Describe an object, in a group breakout format. I usually use a piece of fruit, or a simple drawing which could be described quite literally, or interpreted abstractly.
9. Describing an object, like a marker or a lipstick.
10. An MBTI-wine tasting. I bet the S's would be able to detect the flavors, be making notes about the vintage, calcuating case prices, etc. The N's would be recalling the wine they had when....or thinking about serving it with...
11. Dump a bag of contents out onto a table for about 15 seconds, then scoop them back into the bag and have the groups write down what they saw.
12. Have them describe something abstract like "TIME" or even better, have them look out the window (if you're fortunate enough to be working in a room that has one) and describe the scene. You could also ask them to describe the room they're working in. I think with a larger thing to look at you really get to see the difference between the detailed view of the S's and the broader view of the N's - the S's may say, "there are 3 trees - two oaks and a pine - and a blue house with white trim." The N's might say, "it's a windy day, since the trees are swaying, but looks like it would be a nice day to take a walk. I've always wondered who lives in that house?" I do these simultaneously, having each group write notes on the flipchart to share with the others.
13. I give them something and ask them to write the first things that come to mind. I might use valentine hearts (the ones with saying on them) or candy canes, or candy corn or something that will elicit some memories for Ns.
14. Buy one of these plastic Lego/ building blocks set (one for each group) and ask like types to build something (a factory, entertainment/training center or the like - something unfamiliar to everyone). It's fun and you might notice the S's reading the instructions in the box while Ns go wild with their ideas.
15. You might try having them give directions from the nearest mall, grocery store, movie theater, etc. to their house. Then you can debrief by having them discuss the communication styles associated with each type.
Watch for:
· Use of landmarks (spatial).
· Use of street names (verbal)
· Use of North, South, East, and West along with mileage
· (geographical)
· A blend of the above

Extroversion vs. Introversion Activities for Trainers

Extraversion-Introversion (E-I)
distinguishes a preference for focusing attention on, and drawing energy from, the outer world of people and things versus the inner world of ideas and impressions.

1. Planning a recognition event for yourself.
2. Ask them how they would spend a free day. The Extroverts tend to spend it with others or out and about, while the Introverts enjoy reading a book, watching TV, or generally spending the day with themselves.
3. Plan what you would do on a weekend if you could anything. I put them in a circle from the highest E to the highest I and they share. You can see the shift between the two occurring. I find E's often talk about: food, sex, drink!!! I have them come up with five questions they would like to ask the opposite group. Then we ask and discuss.
4. I do the I/E activity in front of the whole group and it's always a big "aha!" to note that it's not necessarily the content of the discussion but the tone and volume and energy that's different between the two groups. It helps people to get away from the notion that I's are always recluses - they may very well plan group activities. I usually ask them to plan a vacation. Funny how I's would go to similar places - but the activities they will engage in gives them away.
5. I also know of someone who does an "Advice to a Friend" exercise wherein I's give E's advice on his/her ideal work place / work process and vice-versa.
6. I have participants self-select their preference and form two groups. I ask each group to describe (charting the responses) the opposite type and what's it like to work with the opposites. Typically positive and negative stuff gets generated. I find that it is a way to begin to look at how we need/appreciate each other and also how we bug each other. I remember one group of E's (nurses) who described the I's as sexier and better lovers--can't remember all the reasons they had but it got the day off to a fun start.

Myers-Briggs at Work

The theory behind Jung's work and the MBTI is that the differences in normal people and consequently their work and relationship requirements and conflicts are a result of the different ways they perceive and adapt to the world. These differences are easily observable in the workplace and we are constantly dealing with the results of these variables.

The purpose of using the MBTI within a business environment is to attempt to measure these differences, so that they can be better understood. Instead of having creative tension in the workplace cause conflict and opposition, the MBTI can be used to anticipate these opposing but legitimate viewpoints and be creative with the tensions that come from them. Work environments using Typology as a systematic, workable, logical tool for individual organizational development and for team-building have proven more efficient, productive and, ultimately, financially successful.

Within corporate structures, Typology can profoundly affects people as well as the overall work environment. Human motivation comes from within the individual Type and no manager, regardless of how effective he or she is, can be successful if they attempt to motivate everyone in the same way. The challenge for leaders is to create an environment where people are encouraged to be all they can be. When a leader has a knowledge of the personality Type of their subordinates, it can assist them in knowing the unique abilities of each person and helps them work to develop and maximize their potential. This results in saving time and negative energy that may have been spent trying to make people fit a specific or defined position or way of performing. Exceptional performance by ordinary people occurs when leaders have worked with whom their employees are rather than who they think they should be.

Typology works on the basis that it is normal and healthy for people working together to have a variety of opinions and attitudes. The challenge facing the manager in any organization is to direct these distinct personalities into a formation that will work toward a common goal, to create synergy or organizational group cohesiveness.
Ideally, all managers would like to establish an environment where people, of their own free will and desire, want to work well together and optimize their own performance. Using Typology, a manager can learn to understand what motivates each individual and then create the conditions for superior performance.
People will strive to perform to the best of their ability when their work is satisfying, meaningful and enjoyable to them. When the workplace is conflict-ridden, unpredictable or too rigid, people will feel threatened and become preoccupied with surviving or searching for better opportunities elsewhere. The use of the MBTI and a thorough understanding of Typology can assist leaders and managers to construct a work environment that is creative, productive and fulfills both personal and corporate goals.

What is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)?

It is a self-report questionnaire designed to make Carl Jung's (1875-1961) theory of psychological types understandable and useful (Briggs Myers, 1993, p1). It leads to greater self knowledge and helps to identify strengths, unique gifts, motivations and areas for growth. It was developed by Kathrine Cook Briggs (1875-1968) and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers (1897-1980) keenly studied human personality and elaborated on Carl Jung's work in this area. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was developed during World War II to reduce the waste of human potential and has been developed ever since (Briggs Myers, 1993, p1).

Jung's theory of psychological type suggests that predictable differences in individuals are caused by preferences in the way people used their minds (Briggs Myers, 1993, p2). The mind is usually doing one of two things (Briggs Myers, 1993, p2):
1. Perceiving or taking in information and
2. Judging or ordering information and arriving at a conclusion.

From these two functions Jung observed that there were two ways to perceive and judge (Briggs Myers, 1993, p2):
1. Perceive - i). Sensing ii). Intuition
2. Judging - iii). Thinking iv). Feeling

People use all four of these processes everyday and Jung observed that people have preferences toward certain types (Briggs Myers, 1993, p2). These processes are experienced in two distinct areas: Externally in the environment, people and experiences (Extraversion) and internally in thought and reflection (Introversion) and Jung observed that that people were drawn to one type environment.

Hence the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a matrix of 16 possible personality types based on 4 scales (Briggs Myers, 1993, p3):
1. Where a person prefers to focus their attention: (Extraversion or Introversion)
2. How does a person prefer to take in information: (Sensing or Intuition)
3. How does a person prefer to make decisions: (Thinking or Feeling)
4. What way does a person prefer to position themselves to the external world: (Judging or Perceiving)
Please note that extrovert does not mean talkative, introvert does not mean shy, feeling does not mean emotional, judging does not mean judgemental and perceiving does not mean perceptive.

The matrix of types:
Sensing Types Sensing Types Intuitive Types Intuitive Types

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Research on Predicting Performance During Selection

There are some inherent problems with using "predictors" of suitability for open positions within a company. Hunter and Hunter (1984) showed that interviewing is certainly one of the least valid predictors of future job performance (a validity coefficient of .14). Using such things as reference checks (.26), education (.22) or biographical data (.37) did not improve the odds too favorably. In fact, even the best predictor, test scores, came out at .57. So, one could make the argument that in order to be able to best predict future job performance of any person, a combination of methods should be used. Hunter, J.E. and Hunter, R.F. 1984. "Validity and utility of alternative predictors of job performance". .Psychological Bulletin. 96:72-98
Additional research, including Campion, Campion & Hudson, 1994; Huffcutt and Arthur, 1994; Huffcutt, Roth et al, 1996; and McDaniel et al, 1994, continued to show structured interviews having a maximum validity coefficient of .24. One of the most-embraced contemporary personality assessments, the Big 5, was found in Mount and Barrick's 1995 meta-analytic study to have a coefficient of .18 (uncorrected) for Conscientiousness. There is no silver bullet.
Additionally, at least in the US, one must be concerned about the legality of "testing" in employment decisions. Specifically, Griggs v. Duke Power found that any testing must show "a manifest relationship to the employment in question" and that it is up to the employer to show that it did.
To expand on the points about employing a combination of methods, one should conduct a job analysis to establish job relevance of various KSAOs (as required by Griggs, the Uniform Guidelines, CRA, etc.). A well-designed job analysis may also provide guidance with regard to selection methods (test, interview, resume screen, etc.) as well as testing constructs (cognitive ability, conscientiousness, job knowledge, etc.). Therefore, the job analysis will drive the appropriate selection methods.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Give the gift of learning games

Yes, my books filled with activities for trainers and consultants to use when teaching interpersonal and collaboration skills are still in print. You can check out the links from my home page ( or search for my name at my publisher's website ( You can also search for my name at,, or many of the other larger booksellers.

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season!

Who owns finding new hires?

I work for Silver Hill Financial (, which is part of Bayview Lending Group. Bayview's HR team has a recruiting team. That team is a shared resource for the other two companies within BLG and other Bayview companies as well. Whenever a manager identifies the need for a new position or needs to replace an employee they seek approval from the company's leader and then call the recruiting team and ask for a search. However, most of the time that manager (as a leader of a specialized function) is probably better suited to find a pool of qualified candidates with experience in that function. Once they grasp this reality they often share the locations where the qualified candidates may be found and then ask for a search. However, this same manager is probably also the best person to reach out to their peers and network in order to attract the right candidates from the same locations that they just sent to the recruiting team. In fact, once a small group of suitable candidates have been recruited to apply this same manager is also probably the best person to interview the candidates in order to determine whether the candidates have the specialized knowledge and experience for the opening.

So, what value does the recruiting team add? They are experts in how to put this process together effectively - from sourcing to attracting to selecting. The members of the recruiting team help the manager figure out what he/she really needs. They help the manager realize which sources the manager's industry provides that probably include people that are interested in new opportunities. They help the manager position the opening and the company in a very attractive way in order to attract the best candidates. They even pay for ads and job postings as needed. Finally, they run all of the candidates through the initial screens before presenting a small group of potentially qualified candidates to the manager. They also offer to help the manager develop effective interview questions and other steps in the process.

Managers should NOT delegate all of the steps to anyone. They must take ownership in the sourcing, attracting, and selection of their team members. Otherwise, they cannot complain about what they end up with. They need to exercise their right to lead.