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Posts Tagged ‘management’

The World According to DISC – DISC Goes To A Meeting

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Whether you think they are the boon or the bane of the business world, one thing is certain, in corporate culture meetings are a fact of life. Some meetings are long and tedious, some are short and decisive, some involve the whole company, others just a task team of stakeholders. Google is famous for stand-up meeting where the lack of chairs are intended to promote an attitude of meet for only as long as is necessary. So what can we expect from our cast of DISC characters when it’s time for a sit-down?

Dorothy is a high D and the only meetings she really likes are the ones that she is running. When she’s directing the meeting (usually one she’s called on the spur of the moment) they tend to be short and to the point and they don’t happen unless there is a specific purpose to the meeting. Sounds great, but unfortunately sometimes Dorothy can be in such a rush to move the meeting agenda that she can overlook the input of quieter members of the team or gloss over important details. She sometimes falls into the habit of challenging and too-quickly dismissing ideas if they aren’t clearly presented or challenge her authority. Dorothy tends to dodge meetings if they aren’t ones she has initiated. When she does sit in a meeting she usually presses the agenda to nail down action items and generally “get on with it”.

Isaac is a high I and he loves meetings, or rather he loves the socializing that often happens just before and just after the meeting. If anyone is likely to linger in the conference room chatting with colleagues after the meeting is done it will be Isaac and his other high I friends. During the meeting Isaac’s interest will depend a lot on the style of the meeting if it is a lecture or company announcement with no interaction he’ll get bored, but will sit through it so as not to risk the social ostracism of sneaking out early. On the other hand if the meeting is very participatory Isaac will happily chime in to maintain status and will talk on subjects regardless of whether he is actually moving the agenda toward a conclusion. If Isaac calls a meeting it is seldom planned in advance, and sometimes it is hard to tell with all the talk and laughter if the impromptu gathering is a meeting or an office party.

Samantha is a high S and as such doesn’t give off a lot of signals whether she is enjoying the meeting or not, but she is loyal to her boss Dorothy and always backs her point of view. She also always sits in the same chair if she can, and gets a bit flustered if the meeting isn’t in the usual conference room or if someone has taken her favorite seat. The meetings she is most comfortable in are the regular weekly staff meetings, the ones that feel like a regular family dinner where the agenda and the cast of characters are all the same. On the other hand, when she is called into an unplanned meeting she gets stressed and worried that a new decision from management may change the status quo that she finds comfortable.

Chester is a high C and is always a stickler for following parliamentary procedures at meetings. If he calls the meeting, attendance gets taken and people are allotted a set amount of time for replies. Any question raised during a meeting is then reviewed by going around the room getting responses one person at a time. Chester’s meetings always start right on-time. He begins with a review of the minutes from his previous meeting and always end with detailed action items which he then repeats in his after-meeting memos to the staff. Nobody is allowed to leave until the meeting is officially adjourned. Dorothy particularly tries to avoid Chester’s meetings.

As we often do in our World According to DISC blog posts, we’ve shared with you here some one-dimensional examples to illustrate the traits associated with the core DISC styles. But meetings are a very multi-dimensional part of the fabric of a workplace. A recent study of more than 5000 CEOs conducted by the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School, has indicated that meetings are where CEOs spend as much as a full third of their time. The leadership of these companies usually only get about 6 hours per week in which they are able to work alone. CEOs often crave more alone time to build strategy and think creatively, but a lion’s share of their time is spent in meetings where they must contend with the communication dynamics of all the DISC styles. Learning to understand DISC behaviors and finesse the communication landscape of meetings can be vital to an organization’s success and overall culture.

Hiring Mistakes: Looks like a Lexus, Performs like a Yugo?

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Every manager has done it at least once in their career – interviewed that polished, refined, impressive “Lexus” of a candidate only to find out later that when it comes time to do the actual job the candidate suddenly starts performing like a Yugo, the car that Car Talk called “worst car of the millennium”.

How do these hiring mistakes happen? How can a candidate look so good, so right for the role, and yet end up being such a poor match? Well certainly, every hiring situation is unique, however there are trends and research that can help us understand the weaknesses of the interview process and some of the common pitfalls of communication biases.

As we pointed out in our earlier post Hiring for Cultural Fit – Look Beyond the Résumé statistical studies have shown that “decisions based on interviews alone are accurate only 14% of the time. That means we have the chance to be wrong 86% of the time in the hiring of top performing individuals.” Michigan State University Study, John Hunter and Rhonda Hunter, “Validity and Utility of Alternative Predictors of Job Performance”, Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 96, No. 1, 1984, p. 90 (links to pdf)

In other words the interview process alone only gets the hiring recommendation right one out of seven times – not a great average. Without the use of other hiring tools to derive objective data it can be easy to be dazzled by a strong surface presentation – a confident manner, neat professional appearance, firm handshake, eye contact, etc. However are these attributes truly predictive of success for the job at hand? Most people feel comfortable with people with whom they share similar behavioral profiles, they also tend to see certain profiles as aspirational – a candidate who shares a similar behavioral style or projects one that the hiring manager believes themselves to be will have an advantage in the interview process similar to the salesperson who is able to establish instant rapport with a prospect who natural feels more comfortable and trusting of someone whose behavior patterns mimic their own. This can also be true of projected attributes for a given role. For example, an executive candidate may project the demeanor of leadership along with the refined, polished manner and eloquence expected of a leader, but may not necessarily have the behavioral style suited to the demands of that particular organization – the surface “paint job” may impress the board, but a slick “luxury car” appearance won’t help you if what your organization needs is a leader who performs with the behavioral metaphor of a tough, hard-driving off-road vehicle, or a practical, economically-minded mini-van.

The hiring manager’s own effective behaviors, or projected behavioral assumptions for the role, may not be the effective behaviors needed for success in the position being applied for: As an example a department leader who is both a people person and very decisive may need to fill a slot for an analytical role that requires high compliance and a comfort with working in an environment with low people interaction. Although a candidate that shares the high people orientation and decisiveness (and perhaps an equivalent aesthetic sensibility) may seem like an appealing hire, once placed in the performance environment the very attributes that made the candidate seem familiar, attractive and credible would become impediments to optimal performance. The disparity would inevitably lead to some form of disruption whether it be stress/anxiety on the part of the hire, poor performance of job duties, or some other team disruption caused by the mismatched assignment.

The use of objective tools can be indispensable in identifying the aptitude of a candidate for a given role. However, pairing this approach with identifying not just a functional job profile, but a behavioral profile for success will allow the interview process to have an effective “check and balance.” There are tools specifically designed to streamline the process of creating a behavior-based job profile so that you can make sure the candidate selected is closely matched for behavioral alignment, and therefore job success. Using assessment tools to both understand the behaviors needed for the position and the behaviors displayed by the candidate can help you choose a new employee who has what you need “under the hood” no matter whether the exterior looks like a Lexus or a Yugo or anything in between.

Hiring for Cultural Fit – Look Beyond the Résumé

Friday, May 6th, 2011

In a recent article in Fortune / author, Ethan Rouen, points out the importance (and challenges) of finding a cultural fit when hiring job candidates. We agree in general that attitudes, motivations and behaviors are highly important as predictors of a job candidate’s long term success in an organization, even more so in many cases than the surface description of skills and experience found in a typical résumé. However we feel that the author may not be aware of all the tools and best practices that have been developed to assist hiring managers in gathering data to make critical hiring decisions that encompass corporate values and cultural considerations.

The author refers to a source, Brian Kropp from Corporate Executive Board, as saying, “The use of psychometric tests to gauge a candidate’s fit continues to increase in popularity, especially in Europe, Kropp says. These tests are a somewhat more scientific way to measure something that is, in reality, immeasurable.” This statement seems somewhat contradictory and unintentionally misleading: there exists many tools backed by scientific study and years of field usage that are able to measure and provide profile data for such diverse concepts as behavioral styles, attitudes, and motivators. Although there is no single assessment that encompasses such a broad concept as culture, the use of multiple assessments can provide reliable data to make far more informed decisions regarding the cultural fit of a given individual.

The source, Kropp, also points out that “some companies are providing detailed information about the company and its culture in the postings” in an effort to provide the information required for a job candidate to self-select on cultural fit. The author makes the point that some candidates will try for a job even though they know they are not a cultural fit. This certainly correlates with findings such as those from executive recruiters Christian & Timbers, which found in a survey of 7000 résumés that 23% of executives misrepresented their accomplishments. However, we think it is also important to note that without the use of any objective tools to measure these factors, a candidate may simply not know whether they are a fit or not, and that there may also be times that the company is the one providing an unrealistic portrait of their actual culture due to either lack of true understanding or a deliberate attempt to paint a rosier picture of the working environment in the hopes of attracting better candidates (or indeed a blend of both of the above).

Perhaps the most troubling point in the article is again made by way of a quote from Mr. Kropp, “‘The best way is not to test,’ Kropp says. ‘Like people like to spend time with like people. That is where networks come in.'” This can actually be a dangerous approach for companies to take. In fact, we consider it to be the #1 hiring mistake due to an increased likelihood of creating unbalanced teams. For organizations to thrive they require a diverse set of skills and behaviors. While some cultural consistency may indeed come from a network-sourced approach, this must be counter-balanced by objective measurement and strategic selection to make sure that the behaviors and attitudes needed to get the needed work done haven’t been glossed over in an effort to simply find people who get along. As an example an employee tasked with recruiting from her network, who also happens to be a people-pleaser by nature, might be overly biased toward other individuals who share her people-pleasing habit. This might seem innocuous at first, however, it could lead to a misfit if the position to be filled is in fact better suited to a candidate with, for example, a less people-pleasing disposition and a higher emphasis on compliance such as a role that involves enforcement of rules and procedures even if that sometimes means making unpopular decisions.

At Data Dome we do believe highly in the importance of looking beyond the résumé data to more deeply understand the attitudes and motivators that are vital to success, however we disagree strongly with the notion that testing is unable to provide vital information for making hiring choices, not when objective and well-respected tools are available to take guesswork out of the selection process. Using these tools and approaches we’ve reduced turnover in some positions by as much as 75%, and turnover costs are just the tip of the iceberg: companies can suffer profoundly from the hidden costs of eroding morale, miscommunication, and poor productivity that can fester in these situations. Assessments, when used properly, have proven their effectiveness and dependability in matching candidates for lasting organizational fits. Studies have shown assessments to be 4 times as effective as information derived from the interview process, which is typically only between 12% and 20% useful:

“Most people are still hired on the basis of an interview alone. Statistics prove that decisions based on interviews alone are accurate only 14% of the time. That means we have the chance to be wrong 86% of the time in the hiring of top performing individuals.” Michigan State University Study, John Hunter and Rhonda Hunter, “Validity and Utility of Alternative Predictors of Job Performance”, Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 96, No. 1, 1984, p. 90 (links to pdf)

Building a hiring strategy based not just on pre-employment selection, but also developing a foundation of understanding behaviors, motivators and attitudes throughout an organization will reap substantial long term benefits in reduced turnover costs, stronger team development, increased morale and overall productivity.

Sales Hiring Mistakes – Experience isn’t Everything

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

If there is one truth in business it is that you won’t stay in business if you don’t make sales. Every single day businesses struggle to unlock better sales performance and hire the best salespeople, but unfortunately all that training and screening doesn’t always get you the results you want. Why? To understand this let’s explore some common sales hiring mistakes:

Mistake #1 Over-valuing sales experience.
We love to see the president’s club mentioned on the resume, but it is dangerous to assume that past sales success will mean that the candidate will know how to sell your line of products or services. Simply looking at the sales performance numbers won’t tell you about the type of customers that salesperson was successful with nor the sophistication/complexity of the product or service sold. Looking at numbers without context won’t help you find a candidate with the right behavioral match and communication style required for successful sales at your company.

Mistake #2 Not hiring inexperienced people.
There are no statistics that show past sales success alone to be predictive of future success. A sales “newbie” is likely to be more receptive to the training you provide, with less need to unlearn approaches that may have worked while at a different employer, but are no longer applicable due to the changed circumstances. Hire for behavior and attitude first, aptitude second and experience last.

Mistake #3 Hiring based on old criteria.
Even when sales are faltering many companies will continue to hire salespeople based on the same old criteria typically established during a more successful “heyday” period in their past. The business landscape is always shifting making it necessary to adapt hiring criteria to those changing circumstances. Why would you bring in new people selected with the same criteria as your current team when that team is now underperforming? Hire for the future not to recapture a past that no longer exists.

Mistake #4 Hiring all the same type of people (just like you).
This isn’t just true in sales, it is a common problem in all areas of business. We fill teams with people like ourselves because they make us feel comfortable, but the real world is full of people with diverse communication styles and a range of behavior profiles. Salespeople tend to perform better when their behavioral style is similar to the prospective customer’s, but unless all your customers happen to fit the same profile, you’ll be missing out on your team’s overall sales potential.

Mistake #5 “Bumping” a top salesperson to sales manager
We’ll be expanding on this mistake in a future article, however, it is not uncommon for organizations to either take one of the best salespeople they already have or bring in someone with a great selling track-record and “bump them up” to the role of sales manager. Unfortunately this is all too often a mistake because many of the behaviors, reflexes and attitudes that work so well for the sales process are not necessarily desirable as a manager. Similarly, managing sales people requires behaviors that are not necessary for success in selling. Although every scenario is different, one common example is simply taking someone who is happy having independence, self-direction, mobility and a high degree of interpersonal interaction in their sales role and suddenly putting them in a position that requires spending the majority of time confined to a desk filling out reports and prepping for internal meetings. It is an abrupt behavioral shift and one that will be difficult to sustain.

Awareness of these common mistakes can help you build a more effective sales hiring process. We can help you learn to identify the behavioral and attitudinal criteria that are better predictors of sales success. We also offer behavioral based sales training that can teach your new hires and your “old guard” how to recognize communication preferences and adapt their own behaviors to build trust faster, lower resistance, and close more deals.

Improving sales performance requires educating your salespeople and improving their ability to recognize and adapt to behavioral and communication styles that may not match their own. At Data Dome we specialize in using the science of behavioral analysis to unlock the keys to better performance, improved team dynamics and creating the best fits for your organization to thrive. Contact Data Dome for more information on developing hiring strategies and for training that opens the DISC Doorway to Better Sales Performance.

DISC and Motivators: Keys to Competence

Friday, September 24th, 2010

In a recent post by John G. Agno for Coaching Tip: The Leadership Blog some interesting, survey results are brought to light indicating that an alarming 33% of employees consider their managers to be incompetent. The article goes on to suggest that communication problems and recession-induced organizational changes may have much to do with the very high incompetence rating.

Agno seems to be on the right track. Communication is an essential managerial skill, but what is often overlooked are the DISC behavioral underpinnings that can make all the difference between a distrustful and unhealthy communication culture and one where information flows freely, encouraging trust and a sense of inclusion around the office.

Relationship dynamics within the workplace can be impacted by conflicting motivations and communication that isn’t adapted to the diversity of DISC behavioral styles amongst the staff. When a worker doesn’t understand a manager’s motivation or is expected to digest information that runs counter to the worker’s DISC style then the worker may come to a conclusion that the manager is in fact incompetent.

For example, let’s say the manager is a high C who is operating with strong Utilitarian/Economic motivators and the employee is a high D with strong Individualistic/Political motivators. The manager may announce a cutback based on a cut and dry procedural determination – profits are down, so cut costs – while the high D employee is focused on the goals set forth for the department and has a hard time seeing how they can be achieved with less staff. Without adapting communication that reconciles these points of view and behavioral biases it’s easy to see how a conflict could arise. The high C boss could take the high D employees natural resistance to the cutback as a disregard and disrespect of procedural authority and even a naivety in the face to the dollar and cents facts of the situation. The employee in turn could see the manager’s action as callous in difficult times and sabotaging of the ability to reach important objectives.

So how might this go differently? If the manager above were a more skillful communicator and was armed with the kind of knowledge that assessments can provide about employees she could have adapted her style to better communicate with her employee – putting the platinum rule in action. Tools like DISC assessments would have uncovered the manager and worker’s DISC styles and a tool like Motivation Insights could have revealed how each rated the six value categories in the spectrum of Workplace Motivators. The manager could have made the employee more involved in the decision and discussed how the best way to help most of the employees was by pursuing the overall goal of keeping the business alive – a goal which necessitated the cutback. The two could then move to a more productive conversation of how to adjust strategy and tactics under the changed circumstances. The improved communication changes the employee’s perception of the manager as an incompetent, uncaring, dictator who ignores business objectives into a new appraisal as a competent leader willing to make tough decisions for the overall good of the many.

We’ve discussed here how the same decision communicated differently could change the perception of competence. Adapting communication based on an understanding of workplace motivators, values, and DISC behavioral styles can go a long way toward improving office morale and trust within the company culture.

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