Building team effectiveness through psychometric profiling. a scientific reality? A Dissertation by Sascha Michel

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An Msc Dissertation on Psychometric Profiling and the effects this may have on building effective teams.

An Msc Dissertation on Psychometric Profiling and the effects this may have on building effective teams.

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  • 1. BIRKBECK COLLEGE University of London School of Business, Economics and Informatics Department of Organisational Psychology MSc in Management Consultancy and Organisational Change “Building team effectiveness through psychometric profiling. A scientific reality?” Sascha Michel 12819975 29th August 2012 ID No 12819975
  • 2. I certify that the work submitted herewith is my own and that I have duly acknowledged any quotation from the published or unpublished work of other persons. Signature of Candidate: Date: 29th August 2013 WORD COUNT: 11940 (Excluding executive summary and references) ID No 12819975
  • 3. Acknowledgments I would like to acknowledge and thank the following important people who have supported me, not only during the course of this project, but throughout my Masters degree. Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude to my supervisor Alistair Cummings, for his unwavering support, guidance and insight throughout this research project. I would also like to thank Stewart Desson from Lumina Learning. Without access to his network, this research would not have been possible. Stewart's encouragement and belief in what he does has inspired me. And finally, I would like to thank all my close friends and family. You have all encouraged and believed in me. You have all helped me to focus on what has been a hugely rewarding and enriching process. ID No 12819975
  • 4. Executive Summary In this digital age of advancing technologies and rapid change, successful organisational outcomes are highly dependant on building teams that can work effectively cross-functionally and „virtually‟, across many different cultures. Teams consist of people with different skills, roles and personality differences. Understanding more about individual differences and how personality impacts on team effectiveness is becoming an ongoing research priority. A growing trend towards psychometric profiling has emerged, as organisations look to build high-performing teams, that honour diversity, resolve conflict and drive a performance objective. There has been extensive research focus on proving psychometric tool validity, but little has been undertaken in understanding the practical implications from a qualitative perspective. Given the rise of psychometric profiling use and the importance of high performing teams, this research aims to: Explore the impact of psychometric profiling on team effectiveness. Determine if psychometric profiling can improve and maintain team effectiveness over the longer term. Evaluate the role of context in establishing an enduring view of psychometrics and personality trait theory. Formulate recommendations for the practical use of psychometric profiling as a determining factor in team effectiveness. The research methods consisted of a wide review of relevant literature on team effectiveness, personality and psychometric profiling, coupled with the collection and analysis of qualitative empirical data. The latter is based on thematic analysis of narrative interviews taken from a sample of 12 individuals working in organisational teams across the UK, Slovakia, Canada and the USA. The key outcomes of the results are: Psychometric profiling impacts team effectiveness by way of a sequential process of development, through individual „awareness‟ creating environments for „openness‟. This leads to improvements in communication and collaboration. ID No 12819975
  • 5. Psychometric profiling provides individuals with a framework or „common language‟, from which to facilitate different approaches to conflict, difficult personalities and complex situations. Revisiting psychometric profiling repeatedly over the longer term ensures profiles are at the forefront of an organisation, greatly improving and maintaining team effectiveness. As a predictor for future change, psychometric profiling is a valid tool for improving team effectiveness overall, even when profiling is conducted out of context or in a „laboratory‟ setting. The research concludes with key recommendations for ensuring psychometric profiling improves team effectiveness over the longer term. As team effectiveness has become an important factor for helping organisations to deal with the pace of change in uncertainty, developing proficiency in this area is vital. Ensuring longer-term viability of psychometric profiling is paramount. The research concludes with suggestions for further research. ID No 12819975
  • 6. Table of Contents 1. Introduction 1 1.1 Research introduction 1.2. Research context 1.3. Overall research aims and individual objectives 1 2 3 2.1. Literature Review 5 2.1.1. Groups and teams 2.1.1.1. Groups 2.1.1.2. Workgroups to teams 2.1.2. Team effectiveness 2.1.2.1. Teams and performance 2.1.2.2. Models of team effectiveness 2.1.2.2.1 A process of team development 2.1.2.2.2. Functional and underlying models 2.1.2.2.3. Leadership, learning and mental models 2.1.2.2.4. A critical perspective 2.1.3. Teams and Personality 2.1.3.1. Personality and individual differences in teams 2.1.3.2. The five factors of personality 2.1.3.3. Understanding personality through psychometric profiling 5 5 5 7 7 7 8 9 10 10 11 11 13 14 3.1. Research Design and Methodology 16 3.1.1. Overview and approach 3.1.2. Data gathering and design 3.1.3. Sampling selection 3.1.4. Data collection 3.1.5. Qualitative data analysis 3.1.6. Methodological assumptions and limitations 3.1.7. Ethical considerations 16 16 17 18 18 19 20 4. Interview findings: Description, analysis and synthesis 21 4.1. Key team issues that impact on team effectiveness 4.2. A process of awareness 4.3. Understanding, awareness and individual differences 4.4. Indicating factors for improvement 4.4.1. Openness 4.4.2. Communication 4.4.3. Collaboration 4.5. Indicating factors for a framework of action 4.5.1. Different approaches 4.5.2. A Common language 4.6. Embedded learning over the longer term 4.7. Summary of findings 21 23 24 25 25 26 26 27 28 28 29 31 ID No 12819975
  • 7. 5. Discussion 32 5.1. Research objectives: Summary of findings and conclusions 5.2. The impact of psychometric profiling on team effectiveness 5.3. Improving and maintaining team effectiveness over the longer term 5.4. The role of context 32 32 34 35 6. Recommendations and suggestions for further research 36 7. Research limitations 37 8. Summary and conclusion 38 References 39 Appendices 42 ID No 12819975
  • 8. Table of figures Figure 1. Workgroups and teams Figure 2. Stages of Group Development Figure 3. Building effective teams Figure 4. Highest number of coded reference sources under team issues Figure 5. Highest number of coded source references post psychometric Figure 6. Highest number of coded references by respondent under the category awareness Figure 7 Highest number of coded references by respondent under the category improvements Figure 8. Highest number of coded references by respondents under the category new actions Figure 9. Highest number of coded source references under situational aspects Figure 10. Highest number of coded references over time under situational aspects Figure 11. Highest number of coded references over time under improvements ID No 12819975 6 8 9 21 23 24 25 27 29 30 30
  • 9. 1. Introduction 1.1 Research introduction As advancing technologies redefine the way we do business, organisations face fierce competition in rapidly changing global landscapes. Virtual team-working and „cloud‟ technologies are becoming the norm, moving away from hierarchical structures. It is imperative for organisations to remain competitive and deal with the pace of change, building cultures that foster collaboration and honour diversity. At the heart of organisations are teams made up of individuals. Teams come together cross-functionally, from different countries, backgrounds and cultures, yet with a need to be effective, flexible and adaptive in how they deal with conflict and differences (Devine et al., 1999). The value of teams working effectively is that organisations can adapt to uncertainty, focusing their efforts to handle tasks more efficiently, as well as fulfilling employees‟ social needs for interaction and satisfaction (Riketta and van Dick 2005, cited in Richter et al., 2011). To stay competitive in these dynamic times, organisations need teams to work effectively to enable more rapid, flexible and adaptive responses to the unexpected (Katzenbach, 1994; Kozlowski and Ilgen, 2006). Thus, research on team performance and personality is an ongoing priority (O‟Neill and Allen, 2011). Teams consist of individuals who bring different skills, personalities and unique individual differences. Personalities imposed by situational and social variables can directly and powerfully affect how teams function (Heslin, 1964; Moynihan and Peterson, 2001). Personality is also becoming an important factor for accounting how employees behave in groups, strongly affecting the way people work together in organisations (Jarzabkowski and Searle, 2004; Moynihan and Peterson, 2001). Without mutual respect and a collaborative environment of shared understanding, uncertainty and conflict rises, with the certain demise of the team fabric. Although organisations may desire to build cohesive teams, interpersonal conflict and unexpected behaviours are very difficult to manage. Overcoming these issues and reducing conflict can improve interpersonal relations and improve team effectiveness, but only if individuals come to accommodate each other‟s differences (De Dreu and Van Vianen, 2001; Jarzabkowski and Searle, 2004). There are limits to human flexibility. Individuals find certain structures and operational arrangements more congenial than others, and maximising organisational outcomes requires ID No 12819975 1
  • 10. knowing something about people, which means knowing something about personality (Schneider and Smith, 2004). 1.2. Research context Psychometric profiling offers organisations a way to unearth individual differences and measure personality, creating a common language, from which employees can realise that someone who is different is no less valuable (Varvel et al., 2004). Kline (1997) defines the psychometric model of personality as the sum of an individual‟s traits, an all-embracing view of behaviour, quantifiable through rigorous sampling, statistical and factor analysis. Following decades of research in this area of personality, a general consensus has been reached (see Digman, 1989; 1990, Goldberg, 1990, Pervin and John, 1999) on a set of five personality dimensions called the „Big Five‟ or five factor model (FFM), from which we can measure all individual personality differences. Despite many having a critical standpoint of FFM, relating to its descriptive and static view of personality (see Pervin, 1994; Block, 1995a; b; Epstein, 2010), a plethora of FFM questionnaires have been commissioned and implemented by leading organisations around the world, including L‟Oreal, Coca Cola, Pfizer, Adidas, Santander, British Airways and Goldman Sachs to name a few (Lumina, 2012). Notwithstanding the critical views of this approach, much of the previous research (see Digman, 1989; Digman, 1990; Goldberg, 1990; Goldberg, 1992; Block, 1995a;b; Epstein, 2010; Chamorro-Premuzic, 2011) in understanding personality in teams and psychometrics has been about proving theories, factorisation and tool validity, rather than the impact on individuals in organisations. Not much qualitative research, with the exception of McCrae and Costa (1987), has been conducted on the perceptions, experiences and stories of those working in teams. This is crucial to our understanding of teams, as members are exposed directly to personality conflict and change. Teams are regularly under stress and the experience of individual members could shed light on the real impact and validity for personality profiling. This study bridges this gap by exploring to what extent FFM psychometric tools, from the perspective and experiences of individuals within a team, help to resolve differences and improve team effectiveness overall. ID No 12819975 2
  • 11. If FFM personality profiling theories are effective even in uncertain dynamics of teams, then this research could further support in reaching consensus on the validity of personality assessment. As highlighted in the work of Block (1995) and Pervin (1994), there is also scope to evolve our understanding regarding context and the situational aspects of traits and behaviour, to see whether trait awareness in itself is enough to embed significant longer term learning and development. The question is then, not only how personality and psychometric profiling impacts teams and individuals, but also whether this awareness manifests itself in times of difficulty and change in the longer term. 1.3. Overall research aims and individual objectives The overall aim of this research is to advance an understanding of the impact of psychometric personality profiling on team effectiveness and to explore this through qualitative study. In order to understand how psychometric profiling impacts teams, it is necessary to gain an understanding of groups and teams, what constitutes team effectiveness and the role of personality. To make sense of the underlying dynamics of teams and personality, it is important to also take a critical view of personality theory, the „five factor‟ model and psychometrics. This dissertation will cover an indepth review of the relevant literature and the collection and analysis of qualitative interview data. The section entitled research, design and methodology will cover the research strategy, data collection techniques and analysis used to obtain and synthesise the research data. The proceeding chapters will focus on the findings, discussions, conclusions and recommendations. The research will focus on the following objectives: 1. Outline the theory, models and frameworks for defining team effectiveness. 2. Critically evaluate the „five factor‟ trait theory of personality dimensions and the science of psychometrics. 3. Explore the effect of psychometric profiling on team effectiveness. 4. Determine if psychometric profiling can improve and maintain team effectiveness over the longer term. 5. Evaluate the role of context in establishing an enduring view of psychometrics and personality trait theory. 6. Formulate recommendations for the practical use of psychometric profiling as a determining factor for team effectiveness. ID No 12819975 3
  • 12. The first two objectives provide a critical overview of the relevant theory and literature; helping to provide definitions, key historical and most recent theoretical underpinnings of teams, personality and psychometric profiling. This understanding sets the context from which to explore, critically, the qualitative research data, the impacts (objective 3), over time (objective 4) and the role of context (objective 5) for psychometric profiling in teams. The research will contribute and evolve our understanding of the nature of teams. This will help to demystify the role of personality and psychometric profiling and the effect it has on building team effectiveness. The following chapter examines the relevant literature pertinent to the objectives of this research, starting with an investigation into groups, teams and models or theories that define team effectiveness. ID No 12819975 4
  • 13. 2.1. Literature Review 2.1.1. Groups and teams 2.1.1.1. Groups People use the word „team‟ loosely and synonymously with groups. The ability to be precise about what a team is and what it isn‟t can help to understand more about team effectiveness and the role of personality (Katzenbach and Smith, 1993; Wheelan, 2010). An entire workforce of a large or complex organisation is never a team. Groups do not become teams just because that is what someone calls them, however, that is often the case (Katzenbach and Smith, 1993). Bass (1960 cited in Adair, 1987) defines a group as a collection of individuals, who do not have to share common goals or roles, shared behaviours or interactions. All groups (like persons), however, are individual and develop „group personality‟ over time, sharing certain basic common needs. Workgroups, on the other hand, are deeply rooted in social experience. They are formed around common task; defined membership, interdependence of goals and results, shared knowledge, effective in organisations where individual accountability is important (Adair, 1987; Katzenbach and Smith, 1993). A unified team, with established goals, can lead to significant performance gains. The trick then is to learn more “about how workgroups function so that we can increase the chances that work groups will become high performance teams” (Wheelan, 2010, pg.3). 2.1.1.2. Workgroups to teams The key differences between a working group and a team is that team members share collective purposes, leadership roles, supporting environment of mutual contributions, away from „silo‟ or individual group working for performance (Katzenbach and Smith, 1993) (see figure 1). ID No 12819975 5
  • 14. Working Group Team • Strong clearly focused leader • Purpose same as broader organisational mission • Performance a function of what members do as individuals • Shared knowledge for individual performance gains • Individual goals and accountability • Responsible for own results • Individual • Shared leadership roles • Specific team purpose • Performance includes individual and collective mutual contribution • Rely more than just sharing • Discreet work through joint contributions • Performanc greater than sum of individual parts • Collective Figure 1. Workgroups and teams Teams are the basic unit of performance in organisations. They require the combination of multiple skills, experiences and judgements, getting better results than a collection of individuals (Katzenbach and Smith, 2005). Teams can empower individuals to utilise their skills, allowing managers to focus on strategic issues, rather than supervising, thus enabling them to improve productivity (Christopher et al., 2003). Teams are seen as the “best way for marrying the fulfilment of fundamental individual psychological needs with the managerial requirement for more flexibility”, with less down time and more self-regulation (Fincham and Rhodes, 1999, Pg.209). Although team members are committed to one another, driven by the pursuit of demanding performance challenges, this does not mean that teams are void of interpersonal challenges (Katzenbach and Smith, 2005). Members can be supportive and helpful to the extent that protecting feelings becomes more important than getting things done. Nevertheless, real teams do not have to get along. They get things accomplished and seldom seek consensus (Katzenbach, 1994). Interestingly, consensus may happen now and then, but it is not the litmus test for a team's performance (Katzenbach, 1994). ID No 12819975 6
  • 15. 2.1.2. Team effectiveness 2.1.2.1. Teams and performance Team effectiveness matters to individuals and organisations. Rapidly changing structures of work and interdependence of life in the global society has increased the importance of teams. This highlights the need for designing teams that can facilitate the highest levels of performance (Kozlowski and Ilgen, 2006). Effective teams unify around a common purpose, negotiating difficulties and challenges of the day, with members feeling supported, honoured and respected for their contributions. Hackman (1990) invigorates further, defining effectiveness as being formed around the quality of team outcomes, performance and the perceived satisfaction of the needs of team members. Whilst there is a need to deliver performance objectives, there is also a responsibility of individual personalities to satisfy each other‟s human needs and values, linked to backgrounds, cultures, and individual differences. However, contributions are not evaluated on personality alone and the teams that succeeded are the ones that recognise how each person can contribute to team goals (Katzenbach and Smith, 1993). How well a team performs is dependent on how they strive towards goals, resolve task demands, coordinate effort and adapt to the unexpected (Kozlowski and Ilgen, 2006). Team performance output has three facets; a) performance judged by relevant others external to the team, (b) meeting of team member needs and (c) viability, or the willingness of members to remain in the team (Hackman, 1987 cited in Kozlowski and Ilgen, 2006). 2.1.2.2. Models of team effectiveness While performance output for teams is an organisational imperative, achieving effectiveness or „getting there‟, dominates much of the literature surrounding teams. Key research in the field of team effectiveness covers an enormous array of different models and perspectives. These include; stages of team development processes, setting functional goals or structures around roles and ID No 12819975 7
  • 16. activities, as well as the more „messy‟ underlying learning and mental models at the behavioural and social level. 2.1.2.2.1 A process of team development Many writers suggest a common process of development that groups or teams need to pass through in order to reach effectiveness (see Tuckman, 1965; Adair, 1987; Fincham and Rhodes, 1999). This process develops through interactions or changes in the flow of activities, established through active involvement of its members. Teams essentially go through four stages of development, including forming, storming, norming, performing (see figure 2). Forming • What is the task? • What resources do we need? • How much time is needed? • How often will we meet? • How will we cooperate? Storming Norming • Value of the task is questioned • Developing a positive orientation to the task and each other • Disagreement and conflicts emerge • Norms of Collaboration • Reaction against group demands • Cooperation Peforming • Achieving group goals • More formal group processes • Divisions of Labour • Focus around being effective around the task • Degree of attachment to the group? Figure 2. Stages of Group Development Successfully progressing through these stages is dependent on the stability of group membership and the ability of members to resolve interpersonal difficulties (Fincham and Rhodes, 1999). While these perspectives are helpful in our understanding of group processes, they do not provide any practical solutions on how to resolve conflict and move forward through the process of „storming‟, ensuring teams achieve „performing‟ objectives. ID No 12819975 8
  • 17. 2.1.2.2.2. Functional and underlying models Building team effectiveness can be dependent on a number of functional factors. These include; setting specific performance and purpose related goals (Katzenbach and Smith, 1993; Hackman, 1990), committing fully to the task and understanding the task characteristics (Hirokawa, Cathcart, Samovar, & Henman, 2003; Fransen et al., 2011; Katzenbach and Smith, 1994), composing or designing teams based on the right abilities and roles (Hackman, 1990; Day et al., 2004; Belbin, 2000; Kozlowski and Ilgen, 2006), and ensuring the correct structure to generate feedback (Kozlowski and Ilgen, 2006). Salas, Sims, and Burke (2005), suggest a set of more „social‟ factors for building team effectiveness, such as; team leadership, mutual performance monitoring, backup behaviour adaptability, team orientation, as well as coordinating shared mental models, closed-loop communication and mutual trust. This reflects the competencies (knowledge, skills, abilities) that members need toward the more underlying behaviours and attitudes, to achieve team effectiveness (Day et al., 2004). While efforts have been made to understand the underpinnings of performance, as behaviour (see Kozlowski and Ilgen, 2006), the emerging theories support the „underlying‟ aspects as key leverage points for enhancing team effectiveness (see figure 3). Functional •Goals •Task orientation •Team design •Feedback Mechanisms Underlying •Team leadership •Interdependency •Team learning •Mental models •Mutual trust •Interpersonal Figure 3. Building effective teams ID No 12819975 9
  • 18. 2.1.2.2.3. Leadership, learning and mental models Team leadership is important when complex and adaptive challenges are experienced. It‟s imperative to have a leader who can define team goals in response to team needs (Day et al., 2004). Strong Norms and operating procedures promoting interdependence can integrate contributions and promote positive team performance (Gully et al., 2002; Katz-Navon and Erez, 2005; Zaccaro et al., 2001). Team learning enhances performance, because individuals, rather than organisations, are the fundamental learning unit in modern organisations. Continual learning into work processes and sharing of knowledge, enhances team performance (Christopher et al., 2003; Senge, 2006; Decuyper et al., 2010). Mental models describe an awareness of team functioning, and the expected behaviours of both the team and its members, in relation to each other (Fransen et al., 2011). With well-developed mental models, team members may be better able to anticipate each other‟s actions and reduce the amount of communication required for team performance, especially in complex, ambiguous environments (Cannon-Bowers et al., 1993; Zaccaro et al., 2001). Mutual trust along with mental models can be shared between members at the team (i.e. social) and task (i.e. cognitive) levels, protecting the interest of all-important actions and allowing the sharing of information freely. However, too much time spent on protecting, checking and inspecting behaviours, rather than collaborating, can reduce mutual trust (Fransen et al., 2011). Finally, interpersonal skills pave the way for members to develop effective communication and constructive conflict, in how they interact with each other. This includes helpful criticism, objectivity, active listening, feedback, and when to step in and change behaviour, in response to the needs of the team (Cannon-bowers et al, 1993, cited in Zaccaro et al., 2001; Katzenbach and Smith, 1993). 2.1.2.2.4. A critical perspective When we investigate team effectiveness through the lens of behaviour in „social‟ systems, this challenges the orthodoxy for the more traditional perspectives. A simple list of functional ID No 12819975 10
  • 19. approaches, which many advocate, don't account for the unknown, „messy‟ and unpredictable environments, which lead to variances of member responses to behaviour. Interestingly, Hackman (1990) validates further, suggesting we focus on conditions rather than managing behaviour. Equally, not all performance strategies will work for all groups. Higher performance levels carry greater risk to deep-seated individualism and the reluctance to trust one‟s fate to the commitment of another (Hackman, 1990; Katzenbach and Smith, 1994). The tension felt between commitment, trust and individualism, accounts for members not being fully aware of each other, directly linking to personality, which drive group process and team behaviour. The array of models above are useful for defining team effectiveness, but they do not go far enough to deal with arising tension and conflict, when personalities collide. The models also fail to specify the ‘teamwork’ or practical frameworks, which teams can use to navigate challenges (Gully et al., 2002). There is little research looking at the interaction of personalities in relation to team effectiveness (Kichuk and Wiesner, 1997), and current theories are prescriptive, based on case studies that have little empirical evidence to support them (Furnham, 1995). Naturally, to understand more about this relationship between personality and team effectiveness, one needs to delve further into current theory in relation to teams and personality. 2.1.3. Teams and Personality 2.1.3.1. Personality and individual differences in teams Personality is an important factor for determining team effectiveness. Organisations that want to develop effective teams need to “analyse personality-type compositions, help individuals to understand their own personal attributes as well as appreciate the contribution of the other team members” (Bradley and Herbert, 1997, pg.8). Personality is the sum of an individual‟s traits, explaining behaviour, the essence of a person and a pattern of enduring ways in which a person thinks and feels, equivalent also to personal reputation, being perceived by others along with stylistic consistencies in behaviour, reflecting inner structures or processes (Furnham, 1995; Kline ID No 12819975 11
  • 20. 1997; Allport, 1937, cited in Moynihan and Peterson, 2001; Pervin, 1980, cited in Moynihan and Peterson, 2001; Schneider and Smith, 2004). Personality is also an influencing factor in the way that members relate to each other, indirectly effecting group (i.e. collaboration), team level and emergent state (i.e. cohesion) processes substantially (Heslin, 1964; Barry and Stewart, 1997; Moynihan and Peterson, 2001; LePine et al., 2011; O'Neill and Allen, 2011). Certain traits in personality are known to be linked to job performance, due to the interactive nature of work and the emphasis on social functioning (Barrick & Mount, 1991, cited in O'Neill and Allen, 2011; LePine et al., 2011). There is also clear evidence of a link between personality and social behaviour, which can positively affect group processes (see Heslin, 1964; Lord et al., 1986; Toegel and Barsoux, 2012), and “what goes on at work is formally identical to what goes on in life” (Schneider and Smith, 2004, pg.13). Hogan (1991, cited in Toegel and Barsoux, 2012) argues that the propensity for a person to behave in a certain manner and successfully interact with others is a function of personality. Using the personality trait approach to understanding teams enlivens our ability to distinguish between those traits that we all share and those that are dissimilar. As team members gain familiarity of their individual differences, they come to accommodate each other, which is an important strategic capacity linked to performance (Heslin, 1964; Jarzabkowski and Searle, 2004). Bradley and Herbert (1997) elaborate, suggesting a balance of these differences or personality types, toward greater team effectiveness. Although the personality trait view suggested here creates greater team effectiveness, there are a number of critical standpoints, which need to be addressed. Toehel and Barsoux (2012) warn that traits, effective in one context, may become redundant or counterproductive, when situations change. Some researches such as Pervin (1994), Kenrick and Funder (1991, cited in Schneider and Smith, 2004), and Varvel et al (2004) agree that a trait model cannot predict performance in teams; as it presents a static view of the individual, predicts behaviour only in relevant situations, expressed in some situations rather than others and is matched to situations by people who choose different settings. Critics aside, the research has forged on regardless, towards a general consensus for defining personality and a validating theory for successful assessment. ID No 12819975 12
  • 21. 2.1.3.2. The five factors of personality Following decades of research in the area of personality, a general consensus has been reached on a set of five overarching dimensions or Five Factor Model (FFM), from which we can describe personality and its structure (McCrae and Costa, 1987; Digman, 1989; 1990; Goldberg, 1990; 1992; 1997; Pervin and John, 1999). FFM developed over 60 years of factor-analytic studies, derived from everyday language that people use to describe each other, starting with a master list of nearly 18,000 personality descriptors, boiled down to a few fundamental ones (Toegel and Barsoux, 2012). The five dimensions are known as Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional stability or Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience (Digman, 1989; van Vianen and De Dreu, 2001). McCrae (2010) goes on to elevate the basic tendencies of FFM, conceptualising the dynamics of personality as, occurring (a) over time, interacting with the environment to create characteristic adaptations, and (b) at any given moment, interacting with the environment to produce behaviours and experiences. Validation of the FFM approach offers a “broad-based, empirically manageable, and demonstrably relevant avenue for examining personality in work organisations” and part of its appeal is in suggesting consistent relationships between FFM and job performance (Barry and Stewart, 1997, pg.63). These dimensions can be measured, with high reliability and impressive validity, answering to the question of personality structure (Goldman, 1990). Whilst the rhetoric here is about an undeniable, quantifiable system for synthesising personality traits into a few general ones, this does raise the question around the fundamental nature of trait theory, being a static view of behaviour, disregarding context and the dynamic nature of personality. Epstein (2010) calls for FFM to be measured on different occasions or context, and that too much of a static description versus the emotional, is way short of providing a foundation for a complete theory. Block (1995a,b), McAdams (1992) and Pervin (1994), argue for a more conceptual view of FFM, questioning whether in its current ideology of static or typical behaviour, is able to capture the dynamics of personality and account for exceptions in general traits effected by unusual situations. If so, how does trait awareness manifest itself in atypical organisational situations? Contrary to critical views, FFM underpins many of the most recent psychometric tools used to measure personality. Together with this resurgence in research, psychometric profiling has seen a ID No 12819975 13
  • 22. major uptake in organisations as a determining factor for driving higher performing teams (see Lumina Learning, 2012). 2.1.3.3. Understanding personality through psychometric profiling Building effective teams is dependent upon members being able to clearly recognise and adjust themselves to different personalities, qualities and strengths in a team (Belbin, 2004). If there were no means to asses personality in teams, then individuals could perceive traits that differ from their own as threatening rather than trustworthy, while shunning ambiguity and resorting to stereotypes (Moss et al., 2007). Psychometric profiling currently offers organisations the best way to obtain valuable knowledge about different personalities, quantifiable through decades of research, large sampling and rigorous statistical analysis (Kline, 1997). Musselwhite (2012) urges for regular assessment, enabling self-awareness about similarities and differences, „to let us see blind spots‟, intentions and behaviours, creating cultures of feedback, reflection and learning. In turn, building synergy and trust in teams. Positives aside, there are a number of critical issues that relate to the field of psychometric profiling. According to Buss (1989, cited in Fontana, 2000), it is difficult to assess for how people will behave in situations. Personality is not enduring or consistent, but rather fluctuating, as people move from one environment to another (Fontana, 2000). Also candidates can „fake good‟, showing themselves in the best possible light, with work-related behaviour being determined by both personality and contextual factors (Fontana, 2000; Schneider and Smith, 2004). Talleni (1987) urges caution, because the skills needed as an assessor to identify counter transference as part of the data to be interpreted, is not within the capacity of a computer. Finally, Toegel and Barsoux (2012, pg.58) shed light on individuals‟ ability to move beyond what a psychometric tool may suggest, taking a more adaptive stance, saying “we are not prisoners of our personalities. Personality is about preferences-preferred ways of behaving-and we can behave in ways that run contrary to our personality”. While these views raise some doubt, this has not impacted on the demand for psychometric use in organisations. Many FFM questionnaires have been developed and used by leading organisations. These include the revised NEO-PI, Big Five Inventory, Insights Discovery Model, Goldberg‟s 100- ID No 12819975 14
  • 23. trait descriptive adjectives and Lumina Spark (Goldberg, 1992; Pervin and John, 1999; Lumina Learning, 2012). With the importance of understanding more about personality in teams and the emerging trend for the use of psychometric profiling, this research aims to advance a deeper understanding of the impact of psychometric profiling on team effectiveness. Using qualitative methods, this research also explores the role of context and whether personality profiling improves and maintains team effectiveness over the longer term too. ID No 12819975 15
  • 24. 3.1. Research Design and Methodology 3.1.1. Overview and approach The researcher has proposed a qualitative research design strategy for this research, using narrative thematic analysis based on grounded theory. The aim is to understand how different personalities or individuals in teams make sense of themselves and each other, and to what effect this impacts on team effectiveness post psychometric profiling (Maxwell, 1996; Biggam, 2011). The first stage of the strategy is narrative or story telling design, forming the basis from which to conduct interviews and gather research data. This approach is used to develop real life scenarios and social situations, accounting for the different personalities found in teams. From a situational standpoint, narrative can help to establish how people order events, episodes and place meaning to action (Riessman, 1993). These accounts help to establish the context and situational aspects to explore the validity of psychometric profiling over the longer term. The final stage of the research design strategy is data analysis. Once all the data is collected, a thematic analysis takes place, applying grounded theory to the coding of themes and categories, forming an interpretive conceptual framework. This chapter will cover in detail the strategy and approach, starting with the data gathering design, collection, sampling selection, analysis, limitations and ethical issues. 3.1.2. Data gathering and design Using a narrative approach to interview design, the researcher is aiming to understand how people subjectively make sense of themselves and each other in socially dynamic and ambiguous environments i.e. teams (Cassell and Symon, 2004). This approach is firmly rooted in the interpretive epistemological perspective, which, through a dynamic process of social interaction, different groups come to create different worlds, which are presumed not to be static (Cassell and Symon, 2004). As part of the process of interpreting the interview findings, the researcher will need to understand that people conduct narrative accounts as part of a sensemaking process, preserving information and creating meaning, by way of telling stories (Gabriel et al., 2010). Retrospectively, these stories will give accounts for specific situations, which exhibit different or difficult ID No 12819975 16
  • 25. personalities within teams, as well as the changes experienced from the perspective of the protagonists. 3.1.3. Sampling selection The data was taken from a sample of 12 individuals, who currently work in a number of organisations in the UK, Slovakia, Canada and the United States (see Appendix D). Respondents were selected as either being a manager, leader or member of a team, all of whom have taken part in a facilitated FFM psychometric assessment. Respondents were selected with the support of Lumina Learning, who developed the „Lumina Spark‟ psychometric profiling tool. Although there are particular features of the tool that its publishers highlight as distinguishing it from other competitors, it is, in terms of using it for this research investigation, a typical and representative FFM tool, following the same theoretical foundations as many others. Rather than focus on the tool itself, the researcher made special attention to investigate psychometrics, broadly and generally, hence not quantifying tool validity. Furthermore, the researcher ensured respondents were selected as having recently taken an assessment, as well as those that completed one in no less than 12 months prior. The purpose is to explore context and situational aspects over the longer term. To ensure objectivity and minimal bias, the respondents have had no previous relationship with the researcher. The sampling approach was one of non-probability, known as convenience sampling. While it cannot be claimed to be fully representative of the larger population, this form of sampling can be acceptable in exploratory research, as the ideas and insights learned can lead to more detailed and representative research (Biggam, 2011). The researcher was able to gain access to respondents indirectly, with the support of Lumina learning and their accredited practitioners. The participants that came forward did so voluntarily, while stressing an interest in the research. It is likely, given their keen interest for taking part, that respondents had a strong view of psychometrics and had something to talk about. One can assume that this raises the issue of bias, linked to the possibility of respondents having a positive view of psychometric profiling. ID No 12819975 17
  • 26. 3.1.4. Data collection Semi-structured, open-ended interviews took place and with prior consent, were recorded and transcribed. The interviews were designed to extract stories, covering broad situational and personal themes, introduced first by establishing trust, through introduction and gathering facts (see interview design Appendix E). Respondents were asked to give their account of personal experiences of working in teams, exploring different and difficult team situations, behaviours and change scenarios. This was done to establish the context‟, before and after assessment. Following this approach of facilitating context and open-ended storytelling exploration, as Reissman (1993) suggests, evokes narrative and reveals important moments, encouraging respondents to „let it all out‟. The challenge of this approach, however, is making sure respondents don't veer too far from the research questions. To counteract this, the researcher ensured that the facilitation was guided by the research themes. This entailed active listening and questioning in order to navigate each interview. No interview was the same, and this approach of „not asking direct questions for opinion or attitudes‟ but rather „what happened before, after, and then?‟ ensured an effective storytelling technique, while still having a goal in mind (Resissman, 1993; Bauer 1996; Czarniawska, 2000). 3.1.5. Qualitative data analysis The researcher opted for a CAQDAS program called Nvivo, in order to systematically develop themes within the data set, to aid continuity, increase methodological rigour and provide clear and transparent tables for reporting (Saunders, 2000). An inductive, grounded theory approach to thematic analysis was used, in order to promote explorations of themes and codes as they developed, from which to create a conceptual framework. The aim was to generate a descriptive theory or framework, from which to explore the impact of psychometrics on team effectiveness and the issues of context. First, the data was read, imported into Nvivo and then read again systematically in order to develop themes or codes as they emerged. The process of developing these themes is known as „open coding‟, where the data is desegregated into conceptual units and provided with labels, meaning the analytical process can develop towards a more manageable and focused research project (Saunders, 2000; Mason, 2002). This process is based on Grounded Theory, which starts from uncovering the ID No 12819975 18
  • 27. conceptual scheme in a contextual way, without any predetermined theory or framework (Biggam, 2011). In practice, however, the labelling of themes was influenced deductively from what respondents had said and what arose from the literature review (Saunders, 2000). The themes were then organised into integrative categories, which through a rigorous process of many rounds of analysis of the transcriptions and themes, were developed further and refined to describe the impacts, before and after assessment, situationally over time. The resulting thematic framework is represented in descending order of importance in Appendix F. The final stage of analysis involved developing a comparative method to analyse the data. The researcher created a flow chart for each respondent and in turn, diagrammatically linking all themes for each respondent, according to their relationship to each of the top-level categories, as depicted in Nvivo. This allowed the researcher to analyse and explore relationships between themes and categories, from the perspective of a system or process view (see Appendix G). 3.1.6. Methodological assumptions and limitations A narrative approach to interview data collection assumes that people make sense of reality socially. Riessman (1993, Pg. 3) suggests that narrative is an everyday part of life and if not interrupted, respondents „hold the floor for lengthy turns and sometimes organise replies into long stories‟. On the contrary, the experience of the researcher was that some respondents found it easier to elaborate than others about situations in their organisations, sometimes providing very concise accounts. In these cases it required the researcher to listen deeply and to revert to a set of more structured questions, to help extract narrative accounts, deviating from the traditional narrative form. The researcher adapted the approach midway through the data collection phase in order to ensure that all research questions could be answered for each respondent, using a more hybrid approach. For future research, it may help to consider ways in which to prepare respondents for narrative study, i.e. giving respondents time to prepare beforehand and making clear the intentions and expectations of evoking stories. Narrative in its purest form may better suit an investigation of specific crisis and trauma situations in organisations. Although it is becoming more frequently used in organisations, narrative interview is still in its infancy. Data collected in semi-structured ID No 12819975 19
  • 28. interviews require less accuracy and are often less important than the established points symbolise (Gabriel and Griffiths, 2004, cited by Saunders et al., 2000). Finally, it was mentioned in the section on sample selection, that there could be a slight potential for bias with the research findings. The results in this research are limited by the fact that respondents might have a predisposed positive view on the impact of psychometric profiling, and this could distort the final conclusions. 3.1.7. Ethical considerations The researcher has given serious consideration to ethics and how this might limit or influence the overall research design and methodology. Human participants were the focus of the empirical research, with the core principles of transparency, confidentiality, voluntary and impartiality having been considered (Biggam, 2011). All participants were issued consent forms and information packs prior to the interviews. The purpose of the research was clearly explained and respondents were given adequate time to respond with questions. Involvement in this research was voluntary. Participants were able to withdraw at any time and refrain from answering any questions. Confidentiality and anonymity was discussed at the beginning of each interview. It was agreed that all results, discussions and findings, remain only within the domain of the researcher. Participants were informed that instead of using names, each would be assigned a unique respondent reference code. Finally, the researcher aimed for impartiality, conducting interviews only with participants with whom no coaching, facilitation or working relationship had been conducted in the past. ID No 12819975 20
  • 29. 4. Interview findings: Description, analysis and synthesis This chapter reveals the findings from the interviews as described in Research Design and Methodology. These findings shall introduce each of the themes as they evolved during analysis. These themes outline the environment before psychometric profiling, the impact on teams, and how context plays its part in enabling embedded learning. The gathering of empirical data for this research is based on exploratory interview and to allow analysis of the results in a set context. To maintain confidentially, all reference to respondents and their companies will remain anonymous. Any reference to respondents follows the classification index depicted in Appendix D. Analysis of the interviews helped to build a thematic map (see Appendix F), representing themes in descending order. The top-level themes accumulated the highest number of coded source references for each of the different categories. This thematic map offers an overall reference point for each of the subsections of this chapter. 4.1. Key team issues that impact on team effectiveness This section covers the findings that arose through comparative analysis of the state of team environments before personality profiling was carried out. The main issues that individuals and teams experienced were big ‘larger than’ personalities, issues relating to communication, opposing Figure 4. Highest number of coded reference sources under team issues ID No 12819975 21
  • 30. objectives, and tensions created between different teams and departments. Figure 4 shows the total number of coded references found for each of these issues or themes. The themes in red highlight the highest count of coded references, while those in green highlight the least. The highest numbers of coded references were found for the theme ‘Big Personalities’. These results show that „big personalities‟ have an impact on team effectiveness. Team members feel threatened and if directed in the wrong way, cause friction and disturbance in the team. Members can resort to non-compliance techniques, which in turn lower the ability for teams to work well together and achieve their goals. Respondent 10 captures this succinctly, “There was a person in risk who really was a little bit, I wouldn't say bullying, but a bit assertive. He liked to cross his level of boundaries and was doing stuff that was not his job. He was giving messages to his peers and people in my area that was not the right tone. Nobody wanted to work with him, in a way his approach was unpleasant and everyone wanted to avoid him. He always created an issue in terms of how he shared information and always pushed himself in the foreground rather than being a bit more humble”. This reflects what Moss et al (2007) and Moyniham and Peterson (2001) describe: that people perceive others within a group with traits dissimilar to their own as a potential threat, and that people are less inclined to like someone who does no share similar personality to others in the group, leading to performance defects. Tuckman (1965), Adair (1987), Fincham and Rhodes (1999) also refer to this stage of team development, when members begin to build norms of understanding through conflict or „storming‟. Accordingly, this finding shows that while conflict can be seen as a natural order for team development, without any means to understand where individuals are coming from, detracts from the building of cultural norms, that help to speed up the process towards greater team effectiveness. The second key issue that teams were facing was communication. In these challenging „storming‟ periods the environments were such that learning and cohesion could not be fostered. The language used was very accusatory. Teams were resorting to covert tactics, conducting meetings „in the parking lot‟ and there was an overall unknowing resistance to communicate at a deeper level of understanding (Resp 5; Resp 7). Poor communication, in this way, can be blamed when a broad ID No 12819975 22
  • 31. range of personality differences meet, and without a process of respect and understanding for each other, creates tension and misunderstandings (Culp and Smith 2001, cited in Varvel et al., 2004). The third and final key issue that teams experienced were tensions caused by opposing objectives when teams came together cross-functionally. Some of these oppositions were resultant of teams „talking a different language‟ (Resp 3), or thinking in different ways, „because programming work from the heart and sales people work from the head‟ (Resp 11), with examples of members „being more pro-self than other‟ (Resp7). These issues show that there is room for knowing more about each other, personally and socially, and that understanding personal attributes and contributions can help develop much more effective teams (Bradley and Herbert, 1997). 4.2. A process of awareness The thematic analysis led the researcher to develop three overarching higher order category themes. These categories subsume all the other themes, and help to gain an overall insight into the impacts of psychometric profiling. These categories are „awareness‟, „improvements‟ and „new actions‟ (see Appendix F). Subsequently these categories developed to suggest a more sequential process to these findings, rather than a nonlinear one. Figure 5 outlines all themes coded at each category. The themes highlighted in green are the ones depicting the highest number of coded references, whereas those in red depict the least. Figure 5. Highest number of coded source references post psychometric Every respondent reported to some degree an impact of awareness, leading to improvements and new actions. More than half of the respondents made references to the top theme for each category, ID No 12819975 23
  • 32. for example, under Awareness (Understanding each other, eight respondents), Improvements (Openness, eight respondents) and New Actions (Different Approaches, eight respondents). The three following subsections of this chapter will cover each category in more detail, with the first section covering the category „awareness‟. 4.3. Understanding, awareness and individual differences Nearly every respondent cited examples of situations where psychometric profiling impacted on levels of awareness. The top themes that featured the most were „Understanding Each Other‟, „Team Awareness‟ and „Individual Differences‟ (see Figure 6). Figure 6. Highest number of coded references by respondent under the category awareness At times there were significant breakthrough moments of individual awareness, where the process of awareness “really moved the group, because suddenly they had to look at themselves and before we didn't understand where people were coming from” (Resp 5). At this early stage of awareness, respondents alerted to the concept of there being “a framework that helps people to understand themselves” (Resp 4), referring to the “roles different people play and how that fitted in with their personality” (Resp 12), as well as being able to “know your team in a more structured way” (Resp 9). Within the context of teams, these findings show that, with a more structured understanding of each other through team awareness, team members can come closer together, which is an important factor for establishing mutual trust. Heslin (1964), Varvel et al (2004) and Jarzabkowski and Searle (2004) are united in this finding, in that, as team members gain familiarity and come to ID No 12819975 24
  • 33. accommodate each other‟s differences, skills or preferences, they improve trust and interdependence. This is an essential characteristic of an effective team. What is clear from the process of „awareness‟ is that it acknowledges the need to build acceptance and gain respect of each other. Through learning and awareness, one can understand the skills and strategies of the team more clearly and utilise individual difference as an element of strength, rather than individual conflict. As Musselwhite (2012) describes, understanding through reflection and learning, gives us the ability to see blind spots, intentions and behaviours, which in turn builds synergy and trust in teams. 4.4. Indicating factors for improvement The second higher order category that evolved through the process of thematic analysis, is that of „improvements‟. Figure 7 clearly shows the themes within this category that have the highest number of coded references across all respondents. Figure 7 Highest number of coded references by respondent under the category improvements Every respondent had to some degree experienced improvements post psychometric profiling, with nearly 3 1/4 of those, referencing themes relating to improvements in „Openness‟, „Communication‟ and „Collaboration‟. 4.4.1. Openness ID No 12819975 25
  • 34. The findings show that in creating environments of „openness‟, respondents were able to finally lay things out in the open, to trust and to talk freely. This enabled teams to build an environment for sharing knowledge safely, and getting the best out of their teams, by acknowledging which individuals were best suited to a task. In an environment of openness respondents started to “use each other as coaches and the framework became and still is an everyday language” (Resp 3), while breaking down barriers and allowing individuals to feel supported and safe, where they can “talk very openly about what they are feeling” (Resp 11). Other respondents reported similar incidents, where meetings were more valuable “because all voices were now honoured” and people “had more courage to talk and it gave permission to have more courageous dialogue” (Resp 5). These findings indicate that profiling can create safe places of acceptance, creating „environments for change‟. Interestingly, this is what Hackman (1990) refers to as „conditions for performance‟, but he also warns that these standards are set within the group social system by members, based on their versions of realities, styles and performances. 4.4.2. Communication Although „openness‟ creates positive conditions, improvements in „communication‟ can drive “less conflict and get things resolved faster” (Resp 6), breaking down silos and providing the fabric for building accepted models or „norms‟ of interpersonal interaction. This drives better interactions and builds team effectiveness. The impact of „communication‟ means that individuals are more empowered. They can work with information in a different way and for example, as Respondent 9 suggests, “we brought this into everyday language, even with our clients it is important and the way that people receive information and present it and liaise with, it‟s different”. In relation to team effectiveness, being able to develop communication or interpersonal skills is important, as it helps individuals to work more effectively and co-operate more with team members (Motowidlo and Schmit, 1990, cited in LePine et al., 2011). 4.4.3. Collaboration The final key theme that arose during analysis is indicators that show improvements in „collaboration‟. With improvements in „collaboration‟, teams, with different goals, opposing objectives and hierarchical structures, can come together to support each other and build team ID No 12819975 26
  • 35. effectiveness. Psychometric profiling provided “a way of tackling change and difficult issues no matter what social or leadership skills you've got. It‟s united multi departments” (Resp 3) and “even though we are working in different companies with different goals” (Resp 1), “we were seeing the three of us do the meeting rather than just me, working together rather than be seen to be a hierarchy that doesn't function as a team” (Resp 9). These findings show an evolution in the process for building effective teams. This is a process of „awareness‟ towards an environment where teams are able to dissolve hierarchical structures, work better cross-functionally, and with improvements in communication work to different agendas in a much more collaborative way. Collaboration in this way recognises how each person can contribute to the team goal, by resolving task demands and co-ordinating effort, which is essential for team effectiveness (Katzenbach and Smith 1993; Kozlowski and Ilgen 2006). 4.5. Indicating factors for a framework of action The findings so far have shown that „awareness‟ through psychometric profiling can lead to the building of environments for „openness‟. This environment, along with „improvements‟ in communication, drives greater team collaboration. This sections looks at the final stage of impact, which falls under the category „New Actions‟ (see Appendix F). The preceding categories of „awareness‟ and „improvements‟ pave a way for cementing a rigid framework or „common language‟, from which individuals can take „New Actions‟ or „Different Approaches‟, in response to challenging team situations. Under this category, more than half of the respondents reported taking „different approaches‟ to dealing with difficult situations, with half of these citing the support of a „common language‟ (see figure 8). Figure 8 Highest number of coded references by respondents under the category new ID No 12819975 27
  • 36. actions 4.5.1. Different approaches The findings show that following psychometric profiling, at least 3 1/4 of respondents were able to take on „different approaches‟ to challenging situations. In many cases the „different approaches‟ did not come naturally, but the „awareness‟ gained through the process of learning and improvements in the team fabric, allowed respondents to be more considerate of differences and to try out new approaches. Some of these actions did not always come easily as Respondent 1 highlights, “I did feel stressed inside because it‟s not my natural behaviour, but I realised that I needed to do it to sort the situation out”, whereas others, supported by the knowledge gained through awareness of themselves, acknowledged their impact on the team and how a „different approach‟ can be a new way forward towards changing behaviours. “Knowing what everybody's personality was at the time and what group they fit into, I now try to take that into consideration and to approach each case in a more direct way than I used to” (Resp 12). Approaching people in new ways also includes being aware of the impact of language and how it can impact on the team. Respondent 4 suggests, “coming from the perspective of people understanding themselves and having feedback from others of the effect of what they say, while modifying the language to be much more inclusive of the creation of ideas, instead of going away and tying to prove that person wrong”. This leads on to the important concurrent theme found throughout the analysis, the importance of a „common language‟ or framework, which helps to drive „new actions‟ within the confines of a safe container. 4.5.2. A Common language The findings show that a „common language‟ has the ability to provide an accepted framework, from which to navigate difficult conversations and behaviours. Respondents were able to use this framework; to discuss difficult people related issues, whilst driving effectiveness through free expression and awareness. This „common language‟ is not something completely new but rather structured to facilitate change, as Respondent 6 describes, “some of the things it tells you we intuitively know but there was now a structure in your head to analyse it, therefore this facilitated a lot of progress, being able to understand why and be able to work more effectively”. As suggested here, this „common language‟ is a directional framework of accepted ways of describing and acting ID No 12819975 28
  • 37. on different personalities evident in a team. This helps to understand where individuals sit within a framework, in turn, aiding supporting conversation towards „new actions‟ and greater team effectiveness. This framework helps team members to be effective in how they interact and deal with conflict, constructively, and through helpful criticism, objectivity, active listening, feedback and monitoring teammate behaviour, whilst knowing when to step in and when to change behaviour (Katzenbach and Smith, 1993; Cannon-bowers et al, 1993, cited in Zaccaro et al., 2001). So far the findings have shown that psychometric profiling impacts on team effectiveness in a number of ways. The final section looks at the role of context and whether these findings impact on existing theories for predicting trait behaviours, maintaining effectiveness not only in the short, but longer term too. 4.6. Embedded learning over the longer term The literature review raised a number of issues relating to context and the situational aspects of change, which may hinder the viability of psychometrics to deliver long-term learning and team effectiveness. Figure 9 represents the total number of coded references for each theme under the node „situational aspects‟. Figure 9. Highest number of coded source references under situational aspects The colour green is used to depict those themes with the highest number of coded references, whereas red shows the least. The themes „keeping it at the forefront‟ and „need to be refreshed‟, ID No 12819975 29
  • 38. represents the actions that teams undertook to ensure that any learning garnered from profiling was maintained over the longer term. To ensure transference, post the initial „aha‟ experience of going through a personality profile, half of the respondents ensured the profiles were „kept at the forefront‟, with many including an ongoing program of one to one coaching. These teams “always had something to report on, there was always something that was keeping it buoyed in the organisation and this was further embedded with coaching in place” (Resp 11). Furthermore, the results in Figure 10 show that a greater number of persistent actions were taken between 12-36 months; ensuring learning was embedded and maintained over the longer term too. This correlates closely with the results in Figure 11, showing that after 12 months, along with a concerted effort to embed the learning, that much higher levels of awareness, improvements and actions were achieved. Figure 10. Highest number of coded references over time under situational aspects Figure 11. Highest number of coded references over time under improvements This does not imply that teams who do not employ actions to embed learning will not show signs of improvement, but rather that, with a greater effort to transfer learning, much higher levels of improvements can be maintained. This is highlighted by Respondent 9, who, in response to an imminent merger and ID No 12819975 30
  • 39. without any programme of embedded learning, noticed that within nine months of administering the profiles, individuals were already “reverting to old behaviours, not sharing portfolios and having arguments”. This concurs with what Bloom (1964, cited by Pervin, 1994) and Toehel and Barsoux (2012) describe, that when situations change, personality traits becoming redundant, showing a greater evidence of stability over shorter periods than over longer ones. 4.7. Summary of findings Overall, these findings suggest a number of different ways that psychometric profiling impacts on team effectiveness. Firstly, as part of a sequential process of development, starting with individual and team „awareness‟. Secondly, conditions are created to support environments of „openness‟, leading to interpersonal improvements in communication and collaboration. Finally, with an underpinning framework or „common language‟, individuals and teams are well-placed to facilitate new approaches to difficult situations, thus impacting on team effectiveness overall. These findings also evaluated context and the longer-term viability for psychometric profiling. The findings showed a number of tactics that were employed to transfer and embed the learning. Teams that kept the profile at the forefront were shown to deliver much higher levels of improvements and team effectiveness over the longer term. ID No 12819975 31
  • 40. 5. Discussion 5.1. Research objectives: Summary of findings and conclusions The overall aim of this research was to advance an understanding of the impact of psychometric profiling on team effectiveness, particularly exploring teams in organisations, through qualitative study. The specific research objectives, within the context of teams, were to: Explore the effect of psychometric profiling on team effectiveness. Determine if psychometric profiling can improve and maintain team effectiveness over the longer term. Evaluate the role of context in establishing an enduring view of psychometrics and personality trait theory. This chapter will revisit the research objectives above; by summarising the findings of this research and offering conclusions based on these findings. Recommendations for the practical use of psychometric profiling will be put forward, along with implications for future research and how to progress this area of research. The viability of psychometric profiling in building effective teams will be clarified. By following this structure, it is intended that this research will be concluded to reflect on whether or not the objectives have been met, including considerations on the value of this study. 5.2. The impact of psychometric profiling on team effectiveness The literature review outlined an array of perspectives and models relating to team effectiveness. These included, team development processes; functional roles, goals, abilities; and underlying interpersonal and mental models. Little emphasis, however, was made on the interaction of personalities and the important part it plays in relation to the accepted models for team effectiveness (Kichuk and Wiesner, 1997). In exploring this further, the findings in this research show that psychometric profiling affects teams and individuals in a number of ways. ID No 12819975 32
  • 41. Firstly, psychometric profiling creates an opportunity for individuals and teams to gain greater awareness and learning. It provides a framework for understanding the self, each other, and the different personalities that make up a team. In many cases, these realisations can support existing assumptions of character and personalities, while others, they can be very surprising. Secondly, this framework for understanding creates environments for openness, where individuals feel supported and honoured in their differences, as well as difficult behaviours. In these environments, supported by an effective model for safe feedback and „common language‟, team members can explore new ways of communication and resolve differences and conflict. These improvements lead teams to perform more effectively. With new awareness and improved ways of communication, teams can resolve conflict and challenges of opposing objectives or functional silo working, through better collaboration. As individuals come to accommodate their differences through learning, they can overcome issues, reduce conflict, and further improve team effectiveness (De Dreu and Van Vianen, 2001; Jarzabkowski and Searle, 2004). Lastly, with these conditions creating an environment for change, through openness, communication and collaboration, teams and individuals are well-placed to take new actions and approaches, and to deal with difficult behaviours, big personalities and conflict. This newfound framework is essential for understanding behaviours, how to navigate tricky situations and help bring teams together, especially when individuals come from different backgrounds, experiences and have diverse personalities. This framework helps individuals and teams to „see the blind spots‟, intentions and behaviours, creating cultures of feedback and trust, reducing ambiguity and enabling them to navigating challenges as they arise (Moss et al, 2007; Gully et al., 2007; Musselwhite, 2012). Overall, these findings suggest a chronological process from awareness to improvements and different approaches, but in reality one can only assume that this is the case. The route to effectiveness is not as simple or clear-cut as Tuckman‟s (1965) team development model suggests. Personality profiling, however, can support his model, for example, as an intervention tool at the „storming‟ stage of development, providing a language from which all members can be understood, respected and supported, contributing to a much faster development process towards greater team „performance‟ or outcome. The main conclusions that can be drawn from these findings are that the impact of psychometric profiling is not purely a performance objective, but rather a process of awareness and learning. This ID No 12819975 33
  • 42. process can lead to creating conditions for change, and in turn, to greater team effectiveness. Individuals and teams learn to adopt a shared mental model from which underlying difficulties and challenges can be navigated. This process can be instrumental in unearthing the underlying complex nature of people and teams, but it does not serve as the primary solution, rather it is simply complementary to the more accepted models of team development as suggested by Tuckman (1965). One could argue that without a fundamental awareness, core framework or „common language‟ for navigation, other models merely describe functional composition attributes and processes of team development, rather than solutions. Although key proponents in the field of team effectiveness argue that their models provide the best „all-encompassing‟ solution towards understanding and developing effective teams, in fact what this study shows is that the process of change and development is much more protracted, and cannot alone be reliant on a single approach. A sensible approach would be to view the development of team effectiveness as being a process which is much more interrelated and holistic. Here, all perspectives are held as valid, supportive and equally essential to our understanding of teams, effectiveness and ourselves overall. This study has shown that personality profiling and the process of helping team members to understand their own attributes and appreciate the contribution of others, is an important contributing factor towards team effectiveness (Bradley and Hebert, 1997). Without this process of awareness, acknowledging differences, and creating openness, traditional models fall short of delivering a founded solution to building effective teams. However, a prevailing critique overall, for all of these perspectives on developing teams, is that inevitably, individuals and teams enact their own versions of reality and performance standards are specified by members within the social system. Hence whichever approach is put forward in developing teams, success is determined by the willingness of individuals to change (Hackman, 1990). This is what Katzenbach and Smith (1994) alert to the fact that not all performance strategies work for all groups and warn against individualism and reluctance to trust one‟s fate to the commitment of another. With that, this does raise the question around whether organisations can ensure learning is embedded, not in the short term, but also sustainably over the longer term too. 5.3. Improving and maintaining team effectiveness over the longer term It was raised in the literature review that the science of psychometrics presents a static view of personality and behaviour, and may not endure or have a longer-term impact on individuals and ID No 12819975 34
  • 43. team effectiveness. This is what Buss (1989, cited in Fontana, 2000) and Fontana (2000), elude to when raising concerns about the difficulties of assessing how people will behave in certain situations, with personality fluctuating from one environment to another, rather than being consistent. The research findings corroborate with these perspectives. More than half of respondents cited examples of embedded learning, as it was feared that without any mechanism for keeping learning at the forefront, individuals would revert to old behaviours. In cases where there was an active attempt to embed this learning, those teams saw greater levels of improvement over the longer term. The main conclusions that can be drawn from this is that although personality profiling can have an impact, building environments for openness and creating „aha‟ experiences, with individuals coming to know each other on a much deeper level, these „awakenings‟ can be short lived. Whilst FFM tools have been theoretically argued as trusted predictors of personality, in practice these results show emphatically, implications for longer-term viability, which cannot be discounted. Psychometric profiling may be robust in being able to identify patterns of behaviour, taking the trait view of personality, but what it cannot do is predict how awareness interacts in social situations or teams, continuously and consistently. However, what is most encouraging is that there is a huge amount of value that can be harnessed from psychometric profiling, if organisations adopt ongoing programmes of integration. This depends highly on the organisations skills, resource capacity and expertise. This raises the question of how to come to a consensus on suitable methods of integrating psychometric profiling over the long term in the myriad of different organisational contexts. This brings us to the final question relating to context, and whether this has an influencing impact on validating psychometric profiling as a credible tool for determining personality and behaviour over time. 5.4. The role of context The literature review revealed a number of critiques relating to trait theory, personality and the situational issues of assessment. This led the researcher to explore context as part of these research objectives, to evaluate to what affect it influences our understanding of the validity of psychometrics, personality and teams. This was prompted by leading researchers and critics in the field who argued that a static model can only predict behaviour in certain situations, being redundant when situations change, and overall cannot be a sound predictor of performance in teams ID No 12819975 35
  • 44. (Pervin 1994; Kenrick and Funder, 1991, cited in Schneider and Smith, 2004; Varvel et al 2004; Toehel and Barsoux 2012). The findings revealed two aspects relating to context, which led to further insights into the validity of psychometric profiling. Firstly, under extreme pressure or imminent change, individuals can revert to old behaviours, even after having recently been through a facilitated psychometric assessment. Secondly, while psychometric assessment is conducted out of context in „laboratory settings‟, the awareness gained during this process can still impact and improve team effectiveness overall. Psychometric profiling may not predict future performance of how individuals may behave under difficult situations, but what it can do is create the conditions and possibilities for change. With a framework for allowing greater awareness of the underlying dynamics of the self and personality, individuals are better equipped to deal with challenges and issues as they arise. The main conclusion that can be made is that in some way situational variables are irrelevant. One might agree with the argument that you cannot predict behaviours in the future, but that rings true not only for psychometric profiling and personality, but with change in general. The part that psychometric profiling can play is helping teams to deal with uncertainty and unpredictability. With a new language or framework for understanding, individuals and teams are better equipped to deal with change, making better decisions when dealing with complex situations, difficult relationships and personalities. 6. Recommendations and suggestions for further research The final objective of this research was to provide practical recommendations for the use of psychometric profiling. It was concluded in the discussion chapter that psychometric profiling has an impact on team effectiveness. The levels to which this can be achieved is affected by the actions that are taken over time to embed learning. What this reveals is a number of practical steps that organisations can take to ensure that psychometric profiling has a longer-term impact on team effectiveness. The first recommendation is that organisations should be aware that in order to deliver real value and team performance, they must align a programme of psychometric profiling with a „coaching culture‟ and ongoing one to one coaching. The benefits of this is that staff would have regular interaction with their profiles and keep them fresh in their minds, especially when exploring issues that may arise in a coaching session. The benefit of having this regular meeting is ID No 12819975 36
  • 45. that this framework is maintained as part of the day-to-day management language, ensuring the highest possible levels of team effectiveness can be attained. The second practical recommendation is to ensure organisations integrate profiles as part of their management structure. This would be visible ways, including materials, reminders and reference points back to their profiles. This could include feedback on the use of the tool in management meetings, displaying individual profiles in common areas and encouraging teams to share profiles amongst themselves. By keeping the profile at the forefront of day-to-day management, the language becomes intrinsic to the organisation and in the longer term greatly impacts on team effectiveness. This also helps to reduce the chance of old habits or bad behaviours resurfacing. A full proposed implementation plan is laid out in Appendix B. Although thorough research was conducted as part of this study, there are also other areas that could benefit from the work of psychometric profiling and teams. For example, further research could explore how awareness of individual differences, through psychometric profiling, could determine effective team composition and team design. This could help to understand more about correlations between team composition, personality preferences, and those that lead to greater team performance. This could be helpful, not only in designing teams for success, but also in how balancing personalities in teams impacts on employee morale, wellbeing and happiness at work. Finally, another area of further research, linked to the recommendations made above, is in relation to embedding or transference of learning. It would be helpful to learn more about transference of learning, and which methods are most effective in ensuring team effectiveness over the longer term. 7. Research limitations This research revealed valuable insights into psychometric profiling and teams. Whilst it has been possible to deal with and answer all of the objectives of this research, there have been a few limitations, which could support further research. The two limitations that need to be addressed here are the inability to generalise findings based on the sample size taken, and the selection of respondents as part of this sample. Although not uncommon for qualitative research to cover a sample size of between 12-15 respondents, it must be said that a sample of this size cannot represent the general view of teams in organisations. This sample simply gives a snapshot into how teams function, while providing a starting block for future research. To advance this study, gain ID No 12819975 37
  • 46. wider perspectives and to evaluate the claims made in this research, it is recommended that a much larger sample be taken. Lastly, the convenience sampling method employed here, led to an imbalance of respondents who were leaders or members of a team. If the researcher had been able to present a fairer representation from both sides, then this could have helped to give a much more subjective view of the team protagonists, rather than an objective one, from a leadership perspective. Given the exploratory nature of the study, the above points have not hindered the ability for the researcher to meet the research objectives. However, what is not known, in absence of these limitations, how this may have impacted on the findings and conclusions overall. 8. Summary and conclusion The purpose of this research was to explore the impact of psychometric profiling on team effectiveness, to evolve our understanding about the science of psychometrics and the role of personality in building team effectiveness. Personality profiling is an important factor for determining how teams function effectively. Profiling in organisations has become widely used to assess individual differences, but little was known about the impact this has on building better teams and how this ties in with the plethora of existing theories and models for team effectiveness. While most of the research has been conducted on testing psychometric tool validity, from a quantitative perspective, little had been done to explore the impact on individuals through qualitative study. Using qualitative, narrative thematic analysis, the results of this study contributed to a deeper understanding of personality and team effectiveness, by way of a process of awareness and a fundamental framework or „common language‟, which led to improvements and new actions. It was questioned whether the initial awareness of a „common language‟, which led to improvements and team effectiveness, impacts not only in the short term, but longer term too. Whilst the study revealed a process of development and learning which leads to greater team effectiveness, this was partly impacted by persistent action, to embed and transfer the learning, by keeping psychometric profiling in the forefront of the minds of the organisation. The conclusions that were drawn is that psychometric profiling has an impact on team effectiveness, but is limited in the short term, unless considerable steps are taken to embed and transfer learning. ID No 12819975 38
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  • 50. Appendices Appendix B-Implementation Plan This is a suggested implementation plan based on the recommendations made in this research. As the findings show, a persistent attempt to embed the learning ensures greater levels of team effectiveness. ID No 12819975 42
  • 51. • • • • • Step 1 Setup and Person Position Implementation Resp1 Senior Step 2 Embed the Learning Pre-workshop one to one coaching session. Asses learning needs. Layout plan for ongoing learning and development Establish any predeterined views or perspectives on psychometric profiling Implement facilitated workshop style team development days Psychometric Time Encourage ideas within the team on how to further learning Since Sex Experience Industry Country Assessment Male No Financial United 12 • Offer one to one coaching as part of line management structure • Encourage the sharing of profiles between teams and departments • Set aside time in management meetings to disucss profiles and how teams are keeping it fresh • Keep profiles at the forefront. Create visual aids around the office. Include example profiles in staff handbooks • Include profiles in 360 and annual reviews • Develop ongoing programs of workshops to refresh profiles and use them to tackle new issues • Revist assesments or re-test to look for new areas of development Step 3 • Develop a mentor or buddy system to support management in how to integrate Feedback and Maintain profiles into line management roles Appendix D-Respondent Classification Index ID No 12819975 43
  • 52. Resp2 Resp3 Resp4 Resp5 Resp6 Resp7 Resp8 Resp9 Resp10 Resp11 Resp12 Management Middle Management Middle Management Senior Management Senior Management Senior Management External Consultant Senior Management Senior Management Senior Management Senior Management Experienced Team Member ID No 12819975 Services Kingdom Manufacturing Radio Broadcasting Slovakia United Kingdom United Kingdom 24 Canada 24 Female No Female No Male Yes Female Yes Technology Secondary School Male Yes University Canada 24 Male Yes Consultancy 12 Female Yes Manufacturing Female Yes Male Yes Female Yes Healthcare Financial Services Radio Broadcasting Canada United States United Kingdom United Kingdom United Kingdom Male No Manufacturing United States 44 36 12 8 Months 9 Months 12 36 8 Months
  • 53. Appendix F- Thematic Analysis Overview ID No 12819975 45
  • 54. Appendix G- Example Comparative Thematic Process and Flow Chart (Carried out for each Respondent) ID No 12819975 46