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Set a course out of the storm – the strategic view

A series of views – view 5, the strategic view   

Why you need to use research to set a course out of the storm now

1. Where are we now? (Strategic analysis)

We have been using the analogy of being in a major ‘storm’ during the pandemic and post Brexit to give context to the critical importance of organisations using research to create suitable strategies for the future.

“Strategy is the direction and scope of an organisation over a long term, which achieves advantage in a changing environment through its configuration of resources and competences with the aim of fulfilling stakeholder expectations” Johnson, Scholes & Whittington

Over the last four articles we have looked at some of the key areas to consider in gaining current insight into our employees, customers, the markets that we operate within and our organisation.

Last week in the UK we experienced taking ‘Step 2’ of the Government’s COVID 19 response ‘roadmap’ with businesses such as retail, personal care and outdoor hospitality reopening. Research from the DMA last month (March 2021) indicated that although the majority of businesses (70%) are still being negatively impacted by the pandemic, nearly two thirds (63%) are starting to see signs of recovery. This is reflected in the estimates of revenue decline. The findings do however, suggest there is a potentially long road to fully recover from the challenges of the last 12 months. Other respected research sources such as Gartner and McKinsey are also highlighting a more positive outlook for many organisations.

“Before we get too carried away on a wave of euphoria it is important to note that…the world has changed”

This is very encouraging news for all of us. Before we get too carried away on a wave of euphoria, it is important to note that many consumers’ and business customers’ attitudes and perceptions have shifted significantly. The world has changed.

2. Plotting your organisation’s course (formulating your strategy)

This framework helps to explain how the insights we have gained from our research and analysis enable us both to formulate suitable strategy and to create a roadmap that can be shared with all stakeholders.

3. What does our strategy need to include?

  1. Direction
    • setting a course
    • providing a clear roadmap
  2. Scope
    • deciding what we will do and, most importantly, what we won’t
    • what products or services to develop
    • which projects to prioritise
  3. How to achieve advantage
    • there needs to be a value to both the organisation and its customers
  4. Changing environment
    • how the organisation will address the changes
    • how it will respond to the speed of change
  5. Configuration of resources and competences
    • pivoting or aligning these to our chosen market or markets
    • which markets or parts of markets to target
    • where to invest resources – human and financial
    • market positioning
  1. Fulfilling stakeholder expectations
    • How it will fulfil all stakeholders’ expectations including: employees; customers; communities; investors etc…

Given the ever increasing speed of change our chosen course or strategy needs to be reviewed on a regular basis. Setting any course will need adjustment to allow for tides, currents and changing weather patterns so the changing business environment needs to be considered in the same way.

4. What are other organisations saying they need to do?

Our research, conducted late last year, identified the importance for many organisations of the following actions to successfully navigate towards the ‘new normal’:

  • Look at fresh ideas and how to adapt using existing skill sets
  • Identify the right things to focus on
  • Review the purpose of the organisation.
  • Review brand values
  • Closely manage changes
  • Train employees – especially in the use of IT and digital
  • Retain talent
  • Develop leadership skills – especially to support the shift to hybrid working and the changes in employee expectations
  • Provide some certainty in an uncertain business environment – use a clear roadmap with stage gates, communicate it, review it regularly and stay agile
  • Keep scanning the internal and external environment for change
  • Keep reviewing and adapting plans
  • Seek help early. None of us know it all. How others have adapted to the new world can inform our own thinking.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate

“We need to provide some certainty in an uncertain business environment – use a clear roadmap with stage gates, communicate it, review it regularly and stay agile”

“Seek help early. None of us know it all. How others have adapted to the new world can inform our own thinking.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

Uncertainty and volatility will continue to feature in 2021 and beyond.

Some things are likely to have changed irrevocably. Changes to employees’ expectations mean that hybrid working is likely to stay for many. Changes in customer behaviour and expectations will require increased ‘real time’ data collection approaches and an agile approach to providing an engaging customer experience.

Challenges and shocks are inevitable as we move towards a new normal’ – whatever that might end up being.

Charting a course and communicating a clear roadmap to all stakeholders is a must to successfully navigate towards the future.

We help organisations to deliver transformational change. If this article has given you food for thought, get in touch. Perhaps we can do something for you. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The eye of the storm – why you need research now – organisations

A series of views – view 4, the organisation view   

Why you need to research your organisation now 

We have used the ‘perfect storm’ analogy to give context to the critical importance of organisations having current insights to create suitable strategies for the future.  As we start to see the first tentative steps out of lockdown in the UK it may feel as if we are reaching a period of calm. For some organisations, though, this might literally be the eye of the storm that continues to rage around us. The future for many remains uncertain and ensuring that we have insight into critical elements now is more important than ever to be able to successfully navigate through it.

In the first three articles we looked at what to consider in gaining current insight into our employees, customers and the markets that we operate within.

Understanding your organisation

Having understood the needs arising from research of these three elements we need to consider how well our organisation is aligned with them.

Our own research, conducted at the end of 2020, revealed that some of the key impacts of the uncertainty wrought by COVID and Brexit on organisations were seen as being:

  • Supply issues (especially initially)
  • Workplace structures
    • Employees – e.g. working from home, motivation, management, support, anxiety and retention
    • Culture – maintaining positive aspects of organisational culture in the absence of face to face contact
    • Service quality pressures
  • Cost cutting
  • Leadership style challenges

Pivoting strategies’ suitability

When we think about strategy we will often think about suitability and fit. For example:

“Does the proposed strategy fit the culture, leadership style and structure of the organisation?”

During the ‘eye of a storm’ it is well worth looking at this from another viewpoint. From a research perspective the question could be posed the other way around:

“Does the organisation fit the required strategy?”

The ‘six’ elements

What should we consider against this thinking?

There are numerous aspects of the organisation that might need to be researched.

Here are six key aspects for us to explore:

  1. Structure

An organisation chart can reveal so much about the way that an organisation works and its culture. Looking at your own structure, consider the following:

  • Is it up to date? Organisation charts are often in need of revision.
  • Does it accurately reflect the interactions that take place? For example, charts are typically in straight lines – would a 3D view be more appropriate?
  • How relevant is it to the current situation and the needs that have arisen from your previous insights (employees, customers and markets)
    • Does it suit a shift to working from home?
    • Is there still a requirement for the same premises, for example?
    • How does the structure impact on processes?
    • Is the structure relevant to the market or markets that you are in or need to be in?
  1. Leadership

How does your organisation’s leadership align with the insights gained so far?

  • What is or are the predominant style(s) of your leaders?
  • What are the gaps in leadership capabilities? For example:
    • Digital know-how
    • Innovation
    • Change
    • Communicating future direction
    • People selection and development
  1. Culture

“The way we do things around here”

What is the organisational culture? Can you define it? How would others define it?

Culture has a massive impact on the way that an organisation works.

A cultural audit is invaluable to consider where there may be issues with strategic fit. Is there any inertia evident as a result of the significant uncertainties over the past 12 months, for example?

One excellent way of doing this is to use the Cultural Web – a tool created by Johnson and Scholes.

You can find out more about how to use this here.

  1. Values

What are the values of the organisation? How do these resonate or otherwise with your employees, customers and markets?

Values are increasingly important and can have a key impact on how your brand is perceived too.

For example, think about your stance on societal issues such as diversity and equity.

  1. Processes

You may have already considered where key processes are impacting on customer experience but what about some of the less obvious ones.  There are so often things that we do that are no longer questioned.

Challenge the processes in place across the whole organisation. Which are aligned to what you have discovered so far and which are creating barriers to your future success?

Consider digital transformation, for example. To what extent has the organisation adopted digital technologies into its processes?

What about barriers to positive behaviour?

Crawford Hollingsworth wrote an article in impact magazine about auditing ‘sludge’. It is not a term that I had heard before but seems quite apt to undertaking research on the organisation now. Sludge is..

“…when consumers or businesses face high levels of friction that obstruct their efforts to achieve something that is in their best interest, or are deliberately misled or encouraged to take action that is not in their best interest.”

Crawford Hollingsworth

This is all about making behaviour easier for organisations and customers alike. You can find out more about ‘sludge’ here.

  1. Internal communications

Explore how your organisation communicates internally. There is no intent to state the obvious in terms of how important this is or to suggest that it isn’t already top of mind. Like all the above elements, the focus has shifted significantly over the past year so demands review.

Consider some of the following;

  • How have your internal communications approaches changed to recognise the shift in working patterns? Are the approaches appropriate?
  • Who is responsible for the overall management of internal communications? Is this in the right place?
  • Are you communicating a clear roadmap to employees for how and when the organisation plans to navigate out of the storm?
  • How are you getting feedback on your communications? Do you need to consider new channels?

THE BOTTOM LINE

“Fundamentally…

… is your organisation as aligned to the expectations of your employees, customers and markets as it needs to be?

What do you need to change to make your organisation the right fit for the strategies that will take it successfully out of the storm?”

If you would like someone to talk to about any of this, give me a call.

 

 

 

 

 

The ongoing storm – why you need research now – markets

A series of ten views – view 3, the market view   

Why you need to research your markets now – the market view

In the last two articles we have highlighted the major shocks that organisations and individuals are continuing to face from the lack of certainty and volatility in the world that we live in now. The transition period following Brexit has ended but COVID continues to have a significant impact on us all.

Many organisations continue to face major challenges due to this.

In our work and personal lives we all need something that we can anchor our plans around.

From a business perspective, we need to understand as best we can what is going on in the marketplaces that we interact with. This has always been the case but in the current climate it is more important than ever that we have this insight to enable us to create a roadmap for the future.

Understanding your markets

After researching the foundations of your organisation – its people and its customers – the next area to explore is your markets.

“Before we do anything from a strategy perspective, it is vital to know where we are now.”

So what are the key things we need to know?

  1. What is the impact on the market(s) that you are in from the major shocks over the past year?
  • How have they changed?
    • Have they grown?
    • Different dynamics. A shift in the way in which the market(s) work.
    • Declined?
    • Stayed the same?
    • Frozen?
    • Disappeared?
  • What are the main factors that have caused the changes and why?
  1. How has your organisation performed against these changes?

Research will usually reveal things that we didn’t know. It is more than possible, therefore, that we may not have been aware of some of the market changes that have happened. Where you have identified changes:

  • What have you done to address them?
  • What has worked?
  • What hasn’t?
  • What measures have you used? For example:
    • Market share
    • Turnover
    • Profit or loss
    • ROI
    • Customer value
    • Customer retention
    • Likelihood to recommend
  • Which are new for the past year?
  1. What about your competitors?

How are your competitors doing? What are they doing?

Think about the wider competitive environment too. What is changing? How are these changes affecting your organisation?

  • We looked at changing customer behaviours and expectations in episode two. How are these affecting your position in your markets?
  • Are there new products or services that have appeared in your market(s) over the last 12 months that satisfy needs that you used to?
  • Are others (new companies or existing competitors) trying new routes to market(s)?
    • Who or what are these?
    • Can you compete with them effectively?
  • Have there been changes in the supply chain? How do these affect you, if so?
  1. What is likely to happen next?

What else might be on the horizon to add further shocks to the business environment?

“Scanning and seeking to interpret future changes to the business environment has never been so important.”

It may seem obvious but continual scanning and reporting on the business environment is vital:

  • What political changes may happen that will affect your marketplaces? Think about your customers and potential customers here.
  • Climate change is a hot issue from an environmental perspective. What might happen that would affect your market(s) in the near to medium future?
  • What social changes are happening that may affect you and your customers?
  • What technological changes are imminent?
    • Which of these are likely to affect the markets that you are in?
  • What likely economic changes will affect you and your markets the most?
  • What regulatory changes might impact you and your markets? For example, we are by no means out of woods in terms of data transfers from the EEA to the UK yet.

Trying to read the future and planning against some of the likelihoods are key to developing a roadmap that you and your organisation can follow.

  1. What do you need to consider?

Having researched the above areas, what do the findings mean?

  • What do you need to change to create a more sustainable business for the future?
  • What opportunities exist for new products and services in markets that you are in now?
  • What about opportunities for these products and services in markets that you don’t currently target?
  • Are there opportunities for your current offerings in other markets?
  • What new market areas could benefit from your organisation’s capabilities – especially your people’s skills and knowledge?
  • Should you withdraw from some of your markets?

THE BOTTOM LINE

“Fundamentally…

…are you in the right marketplace(s)?

…are you surfing the waves, stuck in the shore break or sinking?

… how can you pivot your organisation’s capabilities to the meet the opportunities in current and/or new markets?”

If you would like a sounding board for any of this, let’s put a Zoom meeting in the diary

 

 

 

The perfect storm – Why you need research now – customers

A series of ten views – view 2, customers   

Why you need to research your customers now – the customer view

In the last article we highlighted the major shocks that organisations and individuals are facing from the continuing uncertainty and volatility in the current environment.

Ten things to explore now

We suggested that there were ten key areas that organisations should strongly consider exploring right now. The top two are:

Understanding your customers

 

Having understood the foundation of any organisation – its people – the next key area to explore is your customers.

“Without customers an organisation would cease to have a purpose.”

Changes in customer behaviour and expectations

Customers’ perceptions and attitudes are undoubtedly shifting. They were already changing but these have accelerated significantly due the impact of COVID, especially.

“It is more important than ever to find out what your customers think and feel”

The customer view

So, what are the key things we need know now?

  1. How have your customers’ expectations changed in 2020?

In simple terms, what do they want from you?

Gain feedback from them on their experiences with you and your products and/or services. What do they say about areas such as?

  • Usability of products or services
  • Digital communications
  • Website functionality
  • Social media
  • How you could improve
  1. How do you measure up?

Obvious perhaps, but how well do you meet their expectations?

Which of your competitors are better or worse than you, in their view?

  1. What are the gaps?

How close or far are you from what you have discovered?

  1. How have customer behaviours changed in relation to your organisation in 2020?
  • How loyal are they to your organisation?
  • Would they recommend you to others? If not, why not?
  • What has changed in terms of their relationship with your organisation?
    • Are they more or less loyal?
    • Are they considering alternative products or services and/or providers more or less than previously? How is this manifesting itself in purchase patterns?
    • Are they sourcing your offerings in a different way? For example, a marked shift to online vs. physical locations.
    • Are they finding you in different ways? More online discovery, for example.
  1. What is keeping them awake at night?
  • What are your customers thinking?
  • What are their fears and concerns – both now and for the future?
  • What are their levels of confidence and optimism?

What does this mean for your organisation? What can you do to support your customers as a result?

  1. What do they think of you?

What are their overall perceptions of you as an organisation? Explore areas such as:

  • Their view of your values and purpose including: your approach to the environment; the community; societal responsibility and sustainability
  • How they would describe or position you?
  • Your organisation’s relevance to their values and beliefs
  • Do they trust you?
  • Product and/or service quality
  • Price
  • Communications and messaging
  • Responsiveness
  • How well you look after their data
  • Developing new products or services that meet their needs and wants
  • Do they know what your organisation’s aims for the future are? Have they seen your ‘roadmap’? If so, what do they think of it?
  • What they think of your people. How does this match up with the employee view?

Techniques such as sentiment analysis can help give insight into some of these.

  1. What would they like to see you do for them next?

They may just tell you!

THE BOTTOM LINE

“Fundamentally…

…how engaged are your customers with your organisation?

…how relevant do they see what you offer to them being?”

Can you answer all of the above areas with confidence?

If you have answered ‘no’ or ‘not sure’ and need some help with this, let’s talk.

 

 

 

 

 

The perfect storm – Why you need research now – employees

A series of ten views – view 1, employees   

Everyone has their own take on the situation that organisations are facing at the moment. As an experienced researcher, I have always seen my role as being to reflect on the data before providing insights. It seems like now, more than ever, is the right time to publish a series of thought pieces on why we need marketing research.

The perfect storm?

Recent research that we have undertaken for a client has clearly indicated that, in the UK, organisations are keenly aware that we are in the eye of two key ‘storm fronts’ currently – to use the ‘perfect storm’ analogy.

  1. COVID
  2. Brexit

The business landscape

The business environment is being shaken in numerous ways, resulting in the following:

  • Uncertainty

There is a continual lack of clarity resulting from the ongoing ‘storms’.

  • Volatility

This means that the sheer rate of change is affecting our views of the world around us. Constant change can be very unsettling for many of us. It is impacting on previous cultural and behavioural norms significantly.

Challenges

Organisations are facing major challenges including:

  • Sink, swim or surf

Of course, there will be some organisations that will benefit from these times but many others from sectors that will be obvious to most of us are still in survival mode. The impacts on financial aspects and all stakeholders, especially employees, are clear to see.

  • Cash

Tightening the purse strings is an inevitable reaction by those facing survival challenges.

  • Hybrid/home working

WFH (working from home) is on everyone’s agenda at this time. It provides opportunities and challenges in equal measure. It is important to recognise that it doesn’t suit everybody! Depending on our personality and behavioural traits, we will find this shift easy or hard to make.

  • Employees’ work/life balance

WFH has an impact on work/ life balance. Many have found the experience very positive but it remains a challenge for others too. Once the novelty has worn off, it can be hard to maintain a balance.

  • Shifts in the psychological contract

Employees are changing the way they view their relationships with employers. Redundancies, job market uncertainty and fear, both short and long term, are contributors to this.

  • Individuals’ focus on personal safety, security and survival

As a result of all of this, some individuals have been pushed into ‘survival’ mode. In terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, if safety and physiological needs are under threat self-fulfilment is not a key priority.

  • Providing clear direction

A key challenge for leaders in organisations is the critical need to communicate a clear direction during uncertain times.  A ‘roadmap’ for the future, as one respondent to the research described it so well.

  • Changes in customer behaviour and expectations

Our customers’ perceptions and attitudes are shifting too. They were already changing but the catalysts have accelerated this by a significant factor. The move to more online discovery and purchase are obvious, but, perhaps not as immediately visible, are the changes to brand loyalty and the time being spent on exploring alternative options.

Ten thoughts on what you need to research now?

There are plenty of things keeping business leaders awake at night but the key question to answer is:

“What do I really need to know about…?”

I have arrived at ten key areas that need to be considered for exploration now:

  1. Your employees
  2. Your customers
  3. Your markets
  4. Your organisation and internal communication
  5. Your processes
  6. Your products and services
  7. Your competitors
  8. Your strategy
  9. Your marketing communications
  10. Your brand

The first two, in particular, are intended to be in priority order.

Number one must be our people. Without them as the foundation, the other areas would not be important.

Customers would come a very close second.  Without customers an organisation would cease to have a purpose.

The employee view

Back to our core question: what do we really need to know and understand about our people?

As a matter of some urgency, we need to ensure we have a clear view as to the following:

  • Satisfaction
  • Levels of engagement with the organisation
    • Do they feel they belong?
    • Do they feel part of a team?
    • Are they being effectively managed
    • Do they know how they are doing?
    • Are they looking to move to another organisation when the opportunity arises?
  • Emotional states
    • Well being
    • Mental health
    • Self esteem
    • Loneliness
    • Vulnerability
  • Physical health
  • Sense of direction – do they know what the leaders’ plans are?
  • Levels of security or insecurity
    • Financial
    • Emotional
    • Relationships
  • Extent of team working
  • Attitudes to WFH and hybrid working
    • There may be pressure on some to be positive about WFH. Will it be the new ‘normal’? Will people feel able to voice their true feelings about it?
  • Extent to which work/life balance is being realised

Why you really need to know about your employees now…

There is no time like the present to make sure that we fully understand the state of our employee base.

If you need help researching this, let’s talk.

Know your remote audience!

Working from home – how to communicate effectively with your team – top tips

Have you ever wondered why sometimes people don’t react to what you say in the way that you would expect them to?

With the current advice being to work from home, if you can, many of us are in a work situation that is very different from anything that we are used to.

To make sure that organisations and their people remain effective it is vital that we continue to communicate as effectively as we can.

Understand behavioural styles

It is easy to assume that everyone responds in the same way to the way we communicate but they don’t. One of the key factors is our behavioural style. This has an impact on our preferred communication approach which affects how we expect others to communicate with us. This is especially important when it is a manager or team leader communicating with us in the work situation.

Be aware of body language

As managers or team leaders of remote teams, one of the key sets of non-verbal signals that we use in communication – body language – is either partly or completely removed depending on the medium we are using. So it is more important than ever that we try to get our approach right for each person we are communicating with.

What can we do?

One of the tools that is particularly useful in identifying the behavioural characteristics of individuals is the Thomas Personal Profile Analysis (PPA). This can provide an insight into your and your team’s communication preferences.

The PPA measures preferences around four core behavioural and communication styles1:

TOP TIPS:

  1. Know your behavioural style and preferences
  2. Know your team’s behavioural styles and preferences
  3. Modify your style to match theirs when you communicate with them

Dos and Don’ts for communication with individuals with each style

These are dos and don’ts for communicating with your team.  Bear in mind your own preferences will have an influence on your natural approach.

ACTIVE

PASSIVE

Next steps

If you would like to find out more about how the PPA could help you and/or your team please get in touch.

Steve Bax is an accredited practitioner for PPA (Personal Profile Analysis), HPTI (High Potential Trait Indicator), and TEIQue (Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire) assessments (Thomas International). 

With thanks to Thomas International for some of the content detail.  For more information on using the PPA to help make remote working communication successful, see the excellent blog by Jayson Darby at Thomas International here

Bax Interaction and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Bax Interaction and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Along with many other companies in this field, we are working from home during this difficult time. If we can provide any help or advice on research, business strategy, team working, managing change, effective communication approaches for remote working and people development please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Face to face research

Bax Interaction is following the advice given by the government and the MRS (Market Research Society) from a research perspective and will not undertake any face to face research at this time. We will continue to offer non-physical contact research methods such as: phone interviews; online interviews using technology including Skype, FaceTime and Zoom and online surveys.

Training

Bax Interaction will not be conducting any face to face training at this time. This is due to the strong advice by the UK Government that everyone should avoid non-essential contact and unnecessary travelling. To us this is clear and we would not want to put anyone at risk in a training and development situation. We will continue to offer leadership and personal development training including psychometric assessments via phone and digital means.

LEADERS – What can you do to be more effective?

Invest time in discovering which of your personality traits can help you to succeed and those that could hinder you.

We offer a completely confidential assessment.

How it works:

1. We send you an invitation to complete a short questionnaire (typically 8 to 10 minutes)

2. We arrange a one to one initial feedback session with you via video conferencing (Skype/Zoom/FaceTime) or face to face (if preferred)

3. Following the session you will receive a detailed report that suggests how you can develop your leadership style Invest in the effectiveness of you and your team now.

To find out more see our article here

LEADERSHIP CAPACITY – SELF-DEVELOPMENT – TOP TIPS

Understanding your own capacity to lead as well as this in that of others can significantly add value to your organisation and its stakeholders.

What is a leader?

“A person who influences others because they willingly do what he or she requests”

(Armandi et al 2003)

I like the simple idea that if you are not followed then you cannot be a leader.

Having trained, taught and coached people both in leadership roles or those aspiring to be leaders for many years, I have a strong interest in what it is that makes a person an effective leader.

There are numerous ways in which individuals can find out about their capacity to lead others. For some, this is being given responsibility for people and finding out the hard way. Increasingly though, organisations are far more aware of the risks of doing this and they will provide development programmes, coaching and training to grow their own leaders and if recruiting from outside will look at an individual’s track record as an indicator of likely success.

What is potential?

“A person with potential is one who can grow to maximise or optimise their talent”

In the context of leadership we are looking at the factors that, when combined, give an individual a high probability of success.

If we know what these factors are, we can begin to make key decisions about our own and others’ future roles and development.

Research has shown that personality traits predict approximately 20% of potential at work. Personality can be described as ‘the way we think’. Our personalities are largely shaped by our early twenties and become less variable as we get older.

There is no simple or single measure of potential. As with all things, some are better suited to certain situations than others.

Key questions around leadership

Anyone with more than a passing interest in leaders will have the heard the question:

“Are leaders born or made?”

Answers on a postcard please!

There is no doubt that training or development can increase leadership potential which is good news. However, clearly there are some people that will be more naturally inclined to thrive in senior leadership positions than others.

What else can help?

I have long been a fan of psychometric assessments in a leadership context as an aid to self-awareness and to give insight for personal development. For you or your existing leadership team they can help with developing positive relationships through being more aware of each others strengths and weaknesses and being able to play to them.

Critically, psychometric assessments can also provide real insight to aid decision making around people development, building leadership teams, succession planning, recruitment and internal promotion.

High Potential Trait Indicator (HPTI)

I use the HPTI from Thomas International as one of the key assessment tools for leadership development.

The HPTI assessment looks at six personality traits. It assumes that certain personality trait levels can indicate a high potential to succeed and be considered ‘optimal’ based on the requirements of a senior executive leadership. Too much or too little of a trait can indicate characteristics that could ‘de-rail’ an otherwise successful person.

The six personality traits measured by the HPTI are as follows:

  1. Conscientiousness – combines self-discipline, an organised approach to work and ability to control impulses which others might give in to
  2. Adjustment – indicates how individuals react emotionally to stress, external events, pressures and relationships
  3. Curiosity (novelty) – how individuals approach novelty, innovation, change, new information and methods
  4. Risk Approach – how someone deals with challenging, difficult or threatening situations
  5. Ambiguity Acceptance (complexity) – an individual’s reaction to complexity and contradictory information
  6. Competitiveness – the relative desire to win, need for power and reaction to winning and losing

Why is HPTI so useful?

  • It provides a subjective assessment on an individual’s leadership capacity based on their personality traits. This adds valuable insight to career development decision making.
  • It highlights strengths and weaknesses in the context of where the person is currently in their career and in terms of where they see their future direction.
  • It can provide an excellent basis for discussion around issues from an organisational leadership perspective.
  • It aids understanding of how and why some internal conflicts arise and what could be done by modifying behaviour to reduce the impact of these

To find out more on the HPTI assessment go to https://www.thomas.co/assessments/workplace-personality-tests

Our top five tips are:

  1. Do the HPTI assessment yourself or use it to aid recruitment and selection in your organisation

It is unique. There is nothing else like it.

As an existing leader, you can discover what your potential trait indicators are and where they help you to succeed and those that may hinder your effectiveness. Use it to aid decision making for recruitment and selection of successors or to identify potential leaders in the organisation.

If you are keen to take on a leadership role, it may be something that you could ask your organisation to arrange as part of a training or development programme. If this is not possible, consider doing an assessment on your own behalf. It would invaluable for your personal and career development.

When you do the assessment, avoid the temptation to try to answer in a way that you think you should rather than your instinctive response.

  1. Get feedback

Get feedback from an experienced practitioner. This will give you far more insight than a report on its own can. It also avoids you having to try to interpret the findings on your own.

  1. Take the opportunity to discuss the issues that you or the organisation are facing as part of your feedback session

The opportunity to explore organisational culture, leadership and strategic issues as part of this feedback is worth taking. You are able to talk openly in a confidential setting. Sharing issues may generate potential solutions to issues that you have already identified.

  1. Remember there are no good or bad scores!

When looking at your results, think about how your personality traits do and don’t work for you in your current situation and where you might want to modify your behaviour in certain situations to be more effective or to realise your leadership potential in the future.

In a recruitment or selection situation, consider how a candidate’s traits could interact with others in your organisation. Where could there be synergies and how could they improve existing team performance, for example?

  1. Act!

As an existing leader, decide which elements of your HPTI results are priorities for you to focus on. Your feedback and the report will provide suggestions on how to develop your leadership style. Don’t try to do it all at once. Act on the key ones first.

In a recruitment and selection situation, the suggestions in the report can be used in discussion with the prospective candidate.

We can provide the HPTI assessment questionnaire and deliver feedback for you. To find out more contact us today.

Note: We offer Thomas International assessments including PPA, TEIQue and HPTI. For more information click here

With thanks to Thomas International for some of the trait descriptors

 

SELF DEVELOPMENT – TOP TIPS

Emotional intelligence (EI) is very topical at the moment. It is often discussed as part of effective leadership but is equally important for interactions with all people at work. Understanding emotions can be very advantageous in helping you to realise your potential.

What is emotional intelligence?

A practical definition is:

“Emotional Intelligence is a collection of traits that can help people gauge social and emotional situations and interactions with others”

The elements of EI include:

  • Self-awareness
  • The ability to perceive your own and others’ emotions
  • Self-motivation
  • Being able to control your impulses
  • Empathy
  • Ability to manage stress effectively
  • Optimism
  • Modifying your behaviour to suit a situation

There are different ways of measuring EI and these fall into two broad categories – trait and ability.

  • Trait – measures place people on a continuum for each of a series of self-perceived traits. This allows for shades of ‘grey’. There are no right or wrong answers.
  • Ability – this considers EI as a cognitive ability that can be measured using performance tests with right or wrong answers.

Why does EI matter?

Self-awareness is a good start point for any development. From my experience of giving feedback sessions on EI assessments over the last couple of years, one of the most powerful ‘light-bulb’ moments for many is discovering that our emotional traits can be visible to others and the potential impacts that this can have. Once you are aware of your own traits you are also more likely to see them in others.

Understanding this and how it affects behaviour can help you to achieve your goals. It is important in work areas as varied as leadership and management, team and project work, selling and customer relationship management but it also matters in our personal lives. It helps us to understand how we appear to our family and friends too and why they behave as they do.

How do I find out what my EI is?

There are various tools available for discovering this. We favour looking at emotional traits assessments rather than ability. We believe this enables a more contextual based set of feedback. In other words, how your ‘scores’ relate both to your current situation and to where you want to be in the future.

We use the Thomas International TEIQue (Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire) psychometric assessment. For more on the TEIQue go to https://www.thomas.co/recruitment/assessments/emotional-intelligence-tests

Our top five tips are:

  1. If you get the opportunity to find out about your EI – take it!

An assessment may be available to you within your organisation or as part of a training or development programme. If not, think seriously about doing an assessment on your own behalf. It is invaluable for your personal and career development.

When you do the assessment, be truthful in your responses. The first response that occurs to you is usually the right one so don’t overthink it! The TEIQue assessment can identify if there is an indication of ‘impression management’ so avoid the temptation to try to answer in a way that you think you should rather than what you actually feel.  It is not a test!

  1. Be open to the results

We would always strongly advocate getting feedback from an experienced practitioner. This will give you far more insight than a report on its own can. It also avoids you having to try to interpret the findings on your own.

  1. There are no right or wrong answers!

We say this a lot during feedback. If you have followed the suggestions in Tip 1, the results will reflect your EI – they will be about you. Think about how your EI does and does not work for you in your current situation and where you might want to modify your behaviour in certain situations to be more effective or to realise your potential in the future.

Avoid looking at scores definitively. A score of 99/100 is not necessarily good and 20/100 isn’t bad! What works in your situation may not be right for others in theirs.

  1. Act!

Decide which elements of your EI results are priorities for you to focus on. Your feedback report should provide suggestions of helpful tips to consider. Don’t try to do it all at once. Act on the key ones first.

  1. Find a ‘sounding board’

Find someone in your organisation, that you can trust, who can give you feedback on how you act and appear in certain situations. Use this to assess where you can improve your interactions with others and how you are doing against the areas that you have identified to focus on.

Steve Bax is an accredited TEIQue Practitioner.  Click here to read more and hear his interview with Cambridge Marketing College. For more help and advice on psychometric assessments including TEIQue please contact us today.