Back in 1987, it was easy for R.E.M. to sing about the “end of the world as we know it” and reckon they’d feel fine if it materialized. It’s a different story when it happens, however, particularly when it comes to the businesses that are our livelihood.
With all the challenges we have to deal with these days – from generations X, Y, Z, and Millennials, plus the seemingly ever accelerating changes that obsolete products and business models in a few short years, not to mention cybercrime, social media viral reviews – dealing with change and building a workforce that can adapt and cope is essential to staying in business.
Creating business resilience is how you do that. It’s a concept like disaster recovery; it represents your ability to adapt and respond to risks such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks, and supply chain disruptions, among others. To build a resilient small or medium-sized business when you have few resources and lack the luxury of coasting until you can restructure, it takes a concerted effort that is focused on changing the effectiveness of both you and your employees.
We’re going to cover a foundational component to building that resilience and effectiveness – behavioral styles – and provide information to help you understand how they fit into creating a resilient, valuable, and envied company where everyone wants to work.
Why Bother? Answer: People
Your employees and their skills are crucial to the resilience of your organization, so investing in your workforce is the best way to ensure they are ready and able to help you tackle any challenge life and the world of business throws your way.
Providing employees with the tools and skills needed to adapt to massive change will contribute to improving your company’s resilience. It will also ensure your people remain engaged and motivated, which will deliver a range of other benefits for the company.
These benefits will positively impact your top and bottom lines and is a game changer if applied and implemented.
The ‘Checkup from the Neck Up’
Before you can begin to adjust your employees’ attitudes and actions, your team – including you – need to know why they behave, think, feel and say what they do.
Behavioral assessments help us to understand employees’ reasoning and processes, and the drivers that affect them. One of those assessment tools is DISC (which stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness) and is widely used in business to reveal the communication styles and general personality characteristics each person uses when dealing with others.
It is a practical, easy to remember, and useful way to talk about four dimensions of external, observable behaviors based on needs-motivated behavior and emotion. It is not a measure of intelligence, skills, education, or experience, or an indicator of values.
It is reported that miscommunication is likely to be occurring as much as 75 percent of the time and when it happens consider the cost! A Towers Watson survey conducted in 2012 showed that companies emphasizing effective communication practices are 1.7 times more likely to succeed financially than their peers.
Here’s an example. Compare what sales professionals typically care about and how they communicate versus the way a computer programmer communicates. In fact, both often think the other is from a different planet. They have a difficult time communicating as well as very different priorities.
When each person better understands their own style– how they communicate, what their personality is like and how their style of communication and personal style is different from another’s – it helps both salespeople and programmers adapt their styles to somewhat mirror the other person’s style. Result? Communication is smoother, clearer, smoother, and more effective and your company makes progress more quickly.
The best assessments are based on sound science and have been developed and refined by behavioral psychologists and validated extensively. They usually work by observing behavior in real time or using a questionnaire. There are many behavioral assessments available that help give insights into motivations, empathy, leadership and other aspects of personality and ability.
Assessment tools help build a better business. The best companies use them to guide employee recruitment, employee and management development, and skill training. Increasing your understanding of what motivates your workers, how they respond to conflict, what causes them stress, and how they solve problems, empowers you to achieve the goal of putting employees in positions where they thrive and love what they do.
Enabling all your employees to recognize the different communication needs of other team members means they can adapt their messaging and approach to ensure the other person receives and processes all information more easily and correctly.
Busting a common myth
It’s a myth that difficult circumstances always make people pull together. Personal conflicts among workers are one of the most disruptive things to happen in a company, and there’s little place for disagreement during a disaster recovery period. By improving understanding among your employees – and their understanding of themselves – you can reduce the friction, facilitate better teamwork, and help them to learn the art of productive conflict.
Before You Hire
Some assessments use information gathered to compare each employee (or prospective employee) to the best performers in your company as well as to external databases compiled from other companies like yours.
As a pre-employment tool, these assessments can help you select people with the right traits, motivations and skills for a job. Perhaps the most important reason for using them routinely in hiring is it they help you avoid hiring the wrong person in the first place, investing in them and then discovering later you made a mistake and must start all over again: You’ve lost ground and didn’t get the results you expected or paid for
If the assessment is skills focused, such as sales skills, you can use the data generated to identify knowledge or experience gaps and provide specific training to boost their sales effectiveness. Whether you do this at the individual or group level, your actions will be more targeted and personalized based on the assessment and thus deliver better results.
Behavioral Assessments: Going Beyond DISC
With a wide range of behavioral assessment tools available, your final selection depends on issues beginning with where to start and how to interpret the information presented so the results are appropriately actionable.
Being able to do something with the results is the point of taking them in the first place so employee effectiveness, commitment, satisfaction and productivity are improved. While DISC and other behavioral assessments give you the information, you must take positive action to unlock all of the benefits.
Typically, assessment tools require the involvement of a facilitator or coach. Over time, their use can be handled internally by trained staff.
Some of the most common assessment tools used in business are:
- Psychometric assessments, e.g. DISC
- 360-degree assessments
- Emotional Awareness or EQ
The ideal tool for your company would enable you to identify each employee’s personality traits, work ethic, skills, performance under pressure, leadership and management approach, and use the information to tailor each person’s training requirements to enhance their effectiveness and productivity.
Benefit? Improved Employee Motivation and Higher Productivity
Using behavioral assessment tools properly has been proven to lead to better employee motivation. Studies show that more motivated people are better performers. They respond better to change, and they build stronger working relationships with their colleagues. They are also less likely to take time off sick or experience low morale. These people handle stress better and are more resilient overall.
Raising the resilience of your workers helps to improve their self-esteem and the sense of control they have over their life events. Resilience is also associated with higher job satisfaction, more happiness at work, and greater commitment to the organization. This provides them with a stronger sense of purpose, improves their working relationships, and increases employee engagement and productivity.
It would be practically impossible to achieve any of these enhancements without knowing where to begin. This makes a strong behavioral assessment an important starting point for strengthening your team and building a resilient business for the future.
The process of leveraging these types of tools are small incremental improvements that, done on a consistent basis, can contribute to massive results in your company’s ROI, ROE and company culture and making it an inspiring place that people are proud to be a part of.