By James Brook, creator of next generation talent assessment tool, TalentPredix™
In an increasingly digital, disruptive, and dynamic world, team diversity and inclusion are becoming increasingly important. Studies show that cognitive diversity enables teams to make faster and better decisions. An inclusive team environment that values everyone and encourages people to be themselves and have a voice also promotes collaboration and builds a strong sense of team identity. This strong psychological connection to the team improves motivation, performance, and teamwork, enabling teams to deliver great results. So how can talent assessment help build inclusive and diverse teams?
Focus on unique talents and skills
Firstly, when building a team or introducing new team members, focus on the unique talents, skills and expertise people will bring. Unfortunately, far too many managers and team leaders hire in their own image, bringing people into the team who have the same background, experiences and thought processes. When this happens, teams often fall into the trap of “groupthink”, i.e. approaching problems in very similar ways and lacking sufficient debate and exploration of divergent perspectives.
Assessments can help overcome such problems by providing hiring managers with more objective data on the talents, skills and thinking styles of team members. By using appropriate psychological tests, including personality and ability tests, and work simulations, managers can supplement data gathered during interviews to determine the unique talents and skills the person will bring to the team. This enables them to determine to what extent the person will add to the diversity of the team, as well as being able to perform the role effectively.
Assessment data can also be leveraged to accelerate a climate of trust, collaboration and inclusivity. It facilitates the sharing and exploration of different talents, preferred styles and expertise to create stronger teams.
Don’t underestimate the importance of soft skills and culture fit
Most hiring decisions still exaggerate the importance of educational attainment and technical expertise at the expense of softer skills. These are often equally, or even more important, than technical skills, which can become outdated, particularly in today’s fast-paced and unpredictable world. When designing an assessment process for team roles, it is important to measure social, emotional, and other so-called soft skills that are vital for effective collaboration and teamwork. Perseverance, collaboration, learning agility and empathy are increasingly important across a diverse range of team roles, yet are often overlooked during the hiring and assessment process. Given the growing importance of soft skills such as these, it is well worth including job-related and more general team-related soft skills in the assessment framework used to select candidates for team roles or projects.
Similarly, poor culture fit can lead to a person-team mismatch, which negatively impacts the company including poor morale, reduced productivity, unwanted turnover, etc. To mitigate these risks, hiring managers and HR departments should spend time determining the personal qualities that will integrate well, including whether the person’s beliefs, values and motivations complement the wider team. The key “watchout” here is not to interpret fit as “everyone needs to be the same”. A good person-culture fit means that an individual’s qualities and expertise will be additive, and they are likely to align with the team’s norms, principles and values. It certainly doesn’t mean the person should have the same background, outlook, and style as everyone else.
Hire people with complementary talents
The best performing teams typically include people with diverse and complementary talents, skills, and styles. Just like a premier league football team that needs a diverse squad of players with different talents on the field, great teams comprise people with diverse talents, motivation and skills who understand and can leverage one another’s strengths. They also know when to call on each other for support in areas where they are weaker.
Though using a scientifically designed assessment like TalentPredix™ or Strengthscope®, hiring managers and HR can uncover the unique talents of candidates and employees and apply this insight to make better hiring, promotion, and development decisions.
Introduce peer and 360º feedback
Although there is mixed evidence about the effectiveness of multi-rater feedback surveys, including peer and 360-degree surveys, a well-designed approach that encompasses feedback from a number of colleagues should be considered by organizations keen to assess team members’ performance and potential. When used effectively, these surveys can improve members’ self-awareness and accelerate their development by providing valuable feedback about their strengths, weaker areas and ‘blind spots’. Behavioural scientists will ensure this type of feedback assessment is well-constructed and measures behaviours that are relevant to success in team roles within your company.
Teams comprising members that have diverse backgrounds, talents, thinking styles and motivations will outperform those that lack such diversity. Diverse and inclusive teams where different voices, talents, and perspectives are encouraged and valued also promote higher levels of psychological safety, confidence, and wellbeing, improving engagement levels, growth, and employee retention. Using workplace assessments in a targeted and considered way when hiring and developing teams enables organizations to develop more objective and accurate talent management processes and achieve a competitive edge that is hard to replicate.
About James Brook
James Brook is an entrepreneur, business psychologist and established leadership and talent expert with more than 25 years’ experience in assessment, talent and leadership development and coaching. He created the next generation of talent assessment tool, TalentPredix™ to provide powerful insights to help employers hire talented people and empower them to thrive at work.
Brook pioneered the strengths-based approach to talent management in the UK, founding Strengthscope® in 2006 and has worked with clients including LVMH, Tesco, Swiss Re, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Hilton, Oracle and Facebook. He has also authored a number of books on organizational management and leadership including, Strengths for Success – Your Pathway to Peak Performance, Optimize Your Strengths, and Stretch: Leading Beyond Boundaries.