More importantly, the abilities being measured are far more directly connected to job performance than older cognitive models such as IQ or the Wonderlich scale. Speed of learning and speed of processing information is directly related to job behaviors, and contrary to traditional thinking, faster is not necessarily better for many types of jobs.
The fact that all human beings have these hard-wired traits and abilities challenges virtually every current model or methodology for improving job performance. It turns out that concepts such as culture, creative thinking, teamwork, and leadership depend upon these elements. When these elements are measured and mapped within an enterprise, issues become clearer; the effectiveness of the methodologies are enhanced; and an integrated approach to human performance becomes possible.
A company may aspire to breakthrough developments by fostering creative thinking, yet one-half of the population cannot deliver this, regardless of training and motivation. Mapping the actual capabilities of the group identifies the true creative drivers, and at the same time, identifies those who are not creative but can support the project in other ways.
Typically, cultural surveys are based on values, ethics, and other intangibles. Mapping the cultural topology of a company reveals the collective personality or culture of each part of the business. This is the foundation upon which the other cultural elements rest and it is how that culture will manifest.
Teamwork is another universally popular concept. Companies talk about its importance and engage consultants to teach it and promote it. The topology of a team refers to the underlying structure of the team: how they handle communication; how or if they debate issues; do they favor change; are they strategically or tactically focused; and much more. Without knowing that structure, most teamwork efforts are little more than sermons, with a few good stories and some nice ideas.
Leadership is desirable in any company. However, leadership is delivered in many ways, and those ways depend upon those hard-wired strengths and abilities. When leadership is mapped, the organization can see what types of leadership are available in each workgroup. They can see what training is necessary and how to implement it most effectively.
The first step in any consulting or training engagement must be to map the topology of the workgroup. Without an inventory of the hard-wired strengths and abilities of that group, how would the engagement proceed? What would be the basis for the project plan? What would be the individual expectations for the participants? Traditionally, trainers have reported that about one-third of any group of participants improve significantly; one-third improve somewhat; and one-third show no improvement. Today, with the ability to map the individual capabilities of the participants, those percentages are no longer acceptable.
BestWork DATA can measure an individual’s traits and abilities using a 25 minute, online survey taken on a laptop or desktop computer. It is a challenging, yet positive experience. The DATA is agile, meaning that it can be multi-purposed into a virtually infinite variety of outputs. It can be aggregated with others to map the capabilities of workgroups or the enterprise as a whole. By juxtaposing the DATA, with the critical behaviors of different roles or situations, extraordinary information for analysis and decisions is available. Much as how a physician uses the data from an MRI by combining it with other information, consultants now have the means to accurately assess a problem and identify the most effective solution, with a map that the client can also understand.
There was an old commercial for BASF with the tagline, “BASF doesn’t make race cars. We make race cars go faster.” In the same way, BestWork DATA doesn’t do consulting. We help consultants sell more projects; work more closely with their clients; and extend their engagements much further.
The staffing industry is massive. It is highly competitive, yet identifying any sustainable competitive advantage among the leaders is questionable. It is mainly a business of selling, marketing and shifting allegiances, both with clients and with the staffing talent. DATA has the potential to dramatically enhance the operations and offerings of any staffing company.
The Competition for Clients
Competition for staffing clients can be fierce, and margin is the most common victim. The fact is that there is little besides price and promises to differentiate the players.
With DATA, imagine this: The specific nature of the BestWork DATA job reports allow staffing clients to select the job behaviors they want for any position. The DATA-driven reports show:
With DATA, it is possible to see exactly how and if a staffing candidate can perform any job in question. The client’s job description can easily be expressed in the same terms, allowing the staffing company to virtually avoid ever sending anyone who could not do the job.
This process allows the staffing company to engage the client on a values basis, with a clearly demonstrable difference in talent delivery. The engagement continues when the talent arrives, as the same DATA provides a quick start set of information that tells the client how to be most productive with the talent. With the DATA, the talent being sent to a client becomes more and more homogenous. This translates into more efficient training and more consistency in the client’s operation.
The Competition for Talent
Staffing companies also compete for talent in the same markets as their competitors. To further complicate things, talent may sign up with several different staffing companies. If one staffing company sends them on assignments they like, they tend to favor them. If they dislike the assignments, they go to another firm.
With DATA, imagine this: Some people like to go to different assignments and love the variety. Others are uncomfortable with such frequent changes and prefer longer term assignments. Some people learn quickly and can adapt easily to new situations. Others can learn the job, but they require more training and a longer ramp up time. These and other differences come from hard-wired traits and abilities that are measured by the inventory. This DATA enables the staffing company to serve the talent better than other staffing companies, and this promotes a loyalty that pays dividends in recruiting talent.
Imagine also: Every time a candidate completes the BestWork survey, their DATA goes into the company’s talent bank or inventory. The candidate may not match the job that prompted their application but they may very well match another posting. The DATA offers a much broader set of options for talent, which is another competitive advantage for the staffing company with the DATA.
The Challenging Process of Finding and Selecting Talent
Not only is talent often fickle, but it can be difficult and expensive to find. Jobs are posted, triggering an avalanche of resumés or phone calls. These must be sorted out in some way, generally consuming time and energy, with the next step often being more interviews in person. It is not an efficient process for either the staffing company or the talent.
With DATA, imagine this: Since BestWork DATA’s staffing program is an unlimited site license, the staffing company can make the BestWork survey a part of all applications. With the DATA, it is a simple task to screen out those that cannot do the job in question even before any sort of interview. Once that has happened, the selection is from a population consisting only of those individuals that can do the job. This is a clearly demonstrated process that offers clients a more consistent and dependable resource. The DATA connection has the further benefit of connecting the client and the staffing company in an intimacy of knowledge that is difficult to compete against.
Trainers of all kinds candidly admit that in every training class one third of the class benefits tremendously from the training. Another third benefits, but not as much as the first third. The last third benefits little or not at all, and in some cases, has a negative effect on the overall training event. Seeking to solve this problem, trainers have devised countless tactics, gimmicks and strategies attempting to change the results. While this often added a variety of entertaining elements, there was little impact on the outcome. The concept of different styles of learning was put forward, and a number of interesting programs tried to apply these to training methods. This definitely helped some participants, but there was minimal success with the overall group, and the complexity of that approach limited its use.
BestWork DATA offers a much more practical understanding of the critical variables in any training program. Each participant plus the trainer, has hard-wired personality traits and cognitive abilities that form a solid foundation of behaviors and learning capabilities. Without seeing these clearly and recognizing the specific differences between the trainer and each trainee, competent and dedicated trainers will be on target with a third of the class, partly on target with another third and will miss with the last third. The good news is that when these differences are known, simple adjustments can dramatically improve any training’s effectiveness. The onus to change and adapt is always on the trainer and never on the trainee, however when both parties understand their challenges, positive results are possible.
The greatest challenges in training programs are found when the learning speeds of the trainer and the trainees are significantly different. This does not refer to intelligence or education, but to the speed at which an individual processes information. Many jobs require a slower processing speed to match the nature of the job, and that match is generally more important than the MBA or PhD that may also be required. Other jobs require fast processing speeds. When the trainer learns quickly, they present information quickly. If the trainee is not equally quick, they cannot capture all of the information. The lessons must be slowed down and some repetition may be necessary to ensure the level of learning. Conversely, if the trainee learns faster than the trainer, the trainee can become bored and not pay full attention. Additional questions and exercises may be introduced to engage faster learners.
Speed of learning is a major factor in the design of successful training programs. In fact, when training programs are designed without considering the speed of learning of both the trainer and the trainees, it can not only affect the effectiveness of the programs, but it can contribute to unwanted turnover.
A leading soft drink company had three call centers experiencing extreme turnover. The job was desirable with good compensation and comfortable working conditions. Candidates were brought in for an intensive 2-day training program, which was followed by a test on what had been learned. Those candidates that passed the test were hired. The intensity of the training and the amount of information that needed to be acquired in a relatively short period of time meant that only those candidates who learned quickly could pass the test. Therefore, candidates with a fast learning speed were hired into a job that consisted of answering inbound calls when a restaurant ran out of soft drink syrup and dispatching more syrup. The new employees quickly learned that this was the extent of the job and virtually all of them left within weeks. The only candidates that could get the job were candidates that were poor matches for the job. The solution had two parts:
A sales organization with 300 salespeople had a turnover rate of over 200%. They were hiring about as fast as employees were leaving. There were two primary causes:
The first step for enhancing training effectiveness is to ensure that each trainee has the hard-wired strengths and abilities needed to be successful in the job. Next, identify any differences in speed of learning between the trainer and the trainees using BestWork DATA. That enables the development of strategies to bridge the gaps and to ensure a successful program.
PRE-TRAINING SNAPSHOT #1 illustrates the significant differences between the trainer and the trainee. A gap of one box between the two people indicates an area that requires additional focus and energy to bridge. This does not mean it cannot be done, but it does mean that specific actions must be taken for the training to be effective. This may require extending the training time, providing additional resources such as video refreshers, hands on demonstrations or other techniques. This example is extreme but it is not uncommon in some industries.
PRE-TRAINING SNAPSHOT #2 illustrates a very different situation. In this example, the trainer is almost an exact match to the trainee. Communication will be easy. They share the same speed of learning and a similar need for details. Both are open to new ideas and both can handle complex and conceptual information. The trainee will also ask questions when needed. This is also an extreme example, although not uncommon. Usually, one or two areas require attention and adjustment, but that is not difficult when the gaps are clearly seen
Training is one of the most important elements contributing to the success or struggles of a company. It is often one of the most expensive. The digital world provides access to almost any kind of training. The key to using those resources effectively is understanding the learning capabilities of the people being trained. BestWork DATA is a powerful tool for unlocking the potential of each person and opening the door to incredible operational excellence.
Chuck Russell is a thought leader on applying behavioral data to business, educational and social challenges. For over 25 years, he has worked with companies of all kinds to optimize their talent acquisition and talent management practices with behavioral data. He is an international speaker on behavioral data analytics.