Tag Archive: Employee Performance

  1. Do These 6 Traits Really Make Men More Promotable?

    Personality data reveals slight differences between men and women, but not enough to explain the gender gap, especially at the C-suite.

    Nearly a decade after Sheryl Sandberg’s famous TED talk on the lack of women in leadership positions, we continue to see more men than women make it to top. According to a 2018 McKinsey&Company report, only

    • 38% of managers are women
    • 29% of VPs are women
    • 22% of executives are women

    At the executive table, men still outnumber women 8:2.

    The easy explanation is to say that women drop out of the workforce to be caretakers at home. While this may have been the case in past generations, it simply isn’t true today. The McKinsey&Company report shows that only 2% of women plan to leave to their careers to focus on family.

    Ambition isn’t the problem either, as 68% of women want to be promoted to the next level. Not only that, women negotiate for promotions just as often as men, according to McKinsey&Company.

    So, if women want to be promoted, they’re negotiating for promotions, and they’re not leaving their careers to focus on family, what’s holding us back?

    Are there differences in personality that can explain why more men are promoted to executive positions than women?

    First, let’s look at why people get promoted. Being assertive, competitive, and taking risks are often cited as factors that increase one’s chances of getting promoted. These are also behaviors that stereotypically male. On the flip side, being accommodating, reserved, and striving for perfection – behaviors that could potentially derail an opportunity for promotion – are stereotypically female.

    When we look at innate styles, do these stereotypes hold true? Are men really more likely to possess career-making personality traits?

    To understand exactly where the differences in our styles lie, we reviewed assessment data from 850,000 men and women in senior level roles across industries, focusing on 6 personality traits that strongly influence promotability:

    1. Accommodation.
    2. Assertiveness.
    3. Cautious Thinking, which can influence our willingness to take risks.
    4. Competitiveness.
    5. Detail Interest, which can influence perfectionism.
    6. Social Restraint/Reserved.

    While results do show some truth in gender stereotypes, differences on key personality traits are not significant enough to keep women from climbing the ranks.

    It’s not surprising to see that women score higher on traits that are stereotypically female, like accommodation and social restraint. It’s also not surprising to see that men score higher on traits that are stereotypically male, like assertiveness and competitiveness. On cautious thinking (a proxy for risk taking) and detail interest (a proxy for perfectionism), however, men and women score exactly the same.

    What are the implications of these trait scores? For starters, being higher on accommodation could lead women to say yes to more non-promotable tasks, such as organizing events or volunteering for internal committees. And, being lower on assertiveness could keep women from offering their ideas or asking for what they want. But, with the exception of competitiveness, these are differences of less than 10% – while the gap between men and women at the C-level is more than 5X that.

    You could say socialization is to blame. Modern culture, progressive as it may be, is still steeped in a legacy of traditionally-defined gender roles. Men are ‘allowed,’ and often encouraged, to be assertive and competitive. Meanwhile, women are expected to be moderators, peacemakers, and and put others’ needs first. Those are the messages we receive through childhood, adolescence, and into our careers.

    And yet – in spite of all this socialization – the personality differences between men and women are surprisingly small.

    To truly level the playing field, we as women can empower ourselves in areas where men have an edge. Yes, men and women are socialized differently, and, in general, we exhibit traits such as assertiveness and competitiveness differently. But that’s not to say we don’t have it in us. These are gaps we can close, and small gaps at that.

    The road to the C-suite for women (and for men!) starts with self-awareness. Then the work of developing healthy leadership habits can begin.

    The bottom line is this:

    If there’s no innate disadvantage, and we perform just as well as men once promoted, then all we have to overcome is tradition. And we’re making progress every day. So keep pushing forward!

    Olivia Salas

    Written by Olivia Salas, M.A.
    Vice President of Solution Delivery, Outmatch

  2. New Sales Managers: 3 Reasons Why They Fail

    Great salespeople don’t always make great sales managers. Research reveals why many of these promotions fail, and 3 competency gaps that stand in the way of success.

    When a new sales manager position is available, many times the promotion goes to a top-performing salesperson. But, success in a current role does not guarantee success at the next level. That’s why 40% of promotions fail, according to our partners at Pinsight.

    The risk is two-fold: Promoting the wrong person puts an ill-equipped leader in charge, and at the same time, removes a top performer from the sales team. A near coin-flip success rate isn’t good enough to gamble on. You need a way to tip the odds in your favor.

    At Outmatch, we assess over 50,000 salespeople and sales managers per year, and the assessment data reveals 3 major competency gaps between the roles. These are the areas where the biggest shifts must occur before great salespeople can become great sales managers:

    Communication style: too assertive.

    Assertiveness is a personality trait that gives salespeople their edge. It helps them prospect, pursue the right people, stay persistent, and close deals. But for sales managers, high assertiveness can be a liability. The natural tendency to dominate conversations may prevent sales managers from listening to the needs of their team.

    Temper your assertiveness: When communicating with others, new sales managers should practice active listening, ask questions before giving their opinion, and remember to confront the issue rather than the person they’re talking to.

    Strong at delivering, not driving results.

    The shift from delivering to driving results is a challenging one. Successful salespeople are used to doing things themselves, while sales managers are responsible for helping others achieve their goals. Sales managers must be able to slow down, see the bigger picture, and ensure that the entire team is on track.

    Focus less on details, and slow your work pace slightly: New managers should schedule strategic breaks to reset and remind themselves of the bigger picture. To avoid getting bogged down in details, a good question to ask is, “How is this task contributing to the overall goal?”

    Organized, but not highly strategic.

    Successful salespeople are pros at managing themselves, their tasks, and their time. But at a strategic planning level, sales managers must think realistically and carefully – two traits that probably weren’t needed earlier in their careers, and can even get in the way of strong sales performance. Once promoted, however, these traits become crucial.

    Cultivate realistic and strategic thinking: Before jumping into action, new sales managers should pause to ask questions and evaluate options. It’s also helpful to identify 2-3 great decision makers to run ideas by.

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    Knowing these competency gaps gives sales leaders the power to be proactive. You can assess these competencies to make better promotion decisions, create targeted leadership development plans, and increase your sales manager success rate. To learn more about what makes salespeople successful, check out Charm, Myths, and the Secret to Better Sales Teams:

  3. Job Competencies: Why They’re More Important than Industry Knowledge

    Sports distributor unlocks the secret to sales success when they begin hiring based on candidates’ personality, rather than background

    Imagine you’re a large-scale distributor of sports equipment and apparel. You hire salespeople from coast to coast to connect with local schools, community organizations, athletic programs – anyone who might be in need of uniforms, spirit wear, practice equipment, or game-day gear.

    What makes a great sales hire in the sports retail world? Someone with the right job competencies, or someone with deep industry knowledge?

    Well, you can probably guess that most of your job applications will come from people with a coaching or sports related background. Which makes sense. Former coaches and players have industry knowledge and a special love of the game that will draw them to your type of business. It may even fuel their sales energy. But will it help them close deals?

    Not exactly. While this type of person likely has experience using the products you sell, and can probably make personal suggestions as to which cleat is best for the community’s youth baseball league (molded? metal? turf?), being a sports fan is not the only requirement for sales success.

    This is what a leading sports distributor discovered when they took a close look at their 800+ person sales team. The company had seen a recent uptick in turnover, and wanted to address it before it became a bigger problem. Also, they knew that their sales managers, who were in charge of all the hiring on the sales team, could use some help vetting talent from outside the industry. The company’s Talent Acquisition Manager said they needed a tool to “tip the odds in their favor.” That’s when they came to Outmatch.

    After taking part in a research study that included 250 of their sales professionals, the company realized that sales productivity was driven primarily by the salesperson’s personality, not by their background or love for sports.

    Six months earlier, the company began using a predictive talent assessment with two goals in mind: (1) streamline the selection process for busy sales managers, and (2) identify sales candidates who were best fit for the role and least likely to turn over. Rather than measuring product-specific skills or industry knowledge, this assessment measured candidates’ personality, including Accommodation, Assertiveness, Sociability, Frustration Tolerance, and other job competencies that are critical to success in a sales role.

    As part of the research study that followed, Outmatch collected supervisor ratings and objective metrics on newly hired salespeople, and compared them to the recommendations made by the assessment. Such analysis would reveal just how well the assessment was predicting success in this company’s sales environment.

    Results showed that salespeople who were identified as a strong match by the assessment were 9X more likely to achieve above-average sales productivity, compared to those who were identified as a poor match.

    Without an assessment in place, the company would have likely hired a mix of strong and poor matches, based on their previous selection process. With an assessment in place, they can focus all their hiring efforts on strong matches, who have proven to be more productive in the role.

    Not only was the company able to address their turnover problem, they’re now equipped to boost performance and productivity across their entire sales team. The company still considers a candidate’s coaching or sports background in the selection process, but it’s not the most important consideration. As it turns out, job competencies for sales success can cut across industries.

    It’s not so much what you sell, but how you sell it, and people with a natural strength for sales will often thrive, even if they’re not selling something that’s deeply personal or nostalgic to them.

  4. Culture Management Strategy: 6 Signs Your Company Needs One

    Your company may need a culture management strategy.

    A culture management strategy will benefit your business even when things are relatively stable. But, you will definitely need a strategy to keep your culture strong through growth, mergers, leadership changes, and other tough transitions. Here are 6 common culture shocks that can derail your business, and tips for managing through them:

    1. A merger, acquisition, or restructure

    Nothing causes culture shock quite like this. For employees going through a merger, acquisition, or organizational restructure, it can feel as if the rug’s been pulled out from under them. So many things change, and changes happen fast. To emerge with a stronger culture, rather than a discordant culture, you need a culture integration strategy. This involves highlighting and understanding all the cultural dynamics at play. A culture measurement tool can help you see the cultural impact of the changes you’ve made, and identify key differences between your different operating groups. Over time, you’ll be able to measure the progress of culture integration and take steps to support a strong company culture, as well as strong subcultures.

    2. Change in leadership or organizational strategy

    Leadership sets the tone for organizational culture. When there are changes at the executive level, culture shifts often follow. To proactively manage these shifts, business leaders needs a way to assess their current culture, and track progress toward their new cultural vision. A culture measurement tool can compare the executive team’s aspirational culture to the current culture (as experienced by employees) to identify areas where the greatest shifts need to occur. Measuring the culture fit of candidates is also essential—you’ll be able to see how new hires will help move you toward your desired culture, rather than keep you in the past.

    3. Hyper growth

    Culture is dynamic, and by constantly adding new employees, organizations can severely dilute their culture. If you had a strong culture before a period of hyper growth, you may find that culture significantly changed, and significantly less effective than it was before. Culture dilution has also proven to negatively effect employee engagement, performance, and retention. So how do you scale your business without deteriorating your culture?  You must have a dedicated effort on reinforcing the values and underlying behaviors that drive success in your company. With a culture measurement tool, you can monitor for culture dilution, see where it’s happening, and identify values that are decreasing in relative importance. It’s also important to measure candidate fit to ensure you’re hiring people who share the values of your desire culture.

    4. Diversity & Inclusion initiatives

    There are many dynamics at play within a culture that can inadvertently undermine your diversity and inclusion efforts. The first step is understanding organizational attitudes toward diversity and inclusion. You can do this by measuring cultural behaviors such as tolerance and collaboration. With a culture measurement tool, you’ll be able to see the relative importance of tolerance as compared to other priorities or values that employees perceive as important in your organization. You can also measure perceptions within diverse populations to see if these groups experience culture differently than others in your organization. Only then can you work to harmonize culture across diverse groups and confirm that your diversity and inclusion initiatives are effective.

    5. Issues with engagement, performance, or turnover

    Culture strength is a direct predictor of employee engagement, which in turn predicts performance and retention. Weakly aligned cultures consistently experience more issues with engagement, performance, and turnover. Whether these issues are pervasive across your company or higher within certain segments of the business, a culture measurement tool can reveal areas of cultural disconnect and help you diagnose the underlying cause. Without visibility, you will struggle to enact positive change. How you hire also impacts on your ability to ‘plug the leak,’ as alignment between personal values and organizational values has proven to enhance engagement, performance, and retention. By measuring candidate fit, you can ensure alignment from the get-go.

    6. Defining or refreshing organizational values

    Because culture is rooted in organizational values, step one of any culture initiative is understanding what those values are. Values set the expectation for how work gets done within your organization, and values drive the behaviors behind all of your business operations. Rather than choosing words simply because they sound important, like INNOVATION or INTEGRITY, use a culture measurement tool to survey employees and see the values that exist in your organization today. Then, use that insight to align your work practices with your existing values, or build a strategy to shift your values. Either way, a bottom-up approach to defining values will foster an environment where employees are more connected to the culture and feel a sense of ownership.

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    To learn more about culture management strategy and best practices, download our infographic: 4 Pillars of an Outstanding Company Culture

  5. Predictive Talent Analytics: Overcoming Barriers in HR

    Predictive analytics has become the standard decision-making framework for finance, marketing, healthcare, retail, logistics, and countless other business operations. Predictive analytics also powers our non-working lives, from Amazon product recommendations to travel itineraries and social media news feeds.

    Predictive talent analytics – where do we start?

    When it comes to adopting predictive analytics for talent decisions, however, HR still faces many barriers. In a recent webinar, HR Tech CEO Greg Moran talked about the top use cases for predictive analytics in HR, and barriers including a lack of analytical expertise, as well as silos in and outside of HR.

    To help HR leaders overcome these barriers and begin using predictive talent analytics, Greg answered the industry’s top questions on skills, silos, and technology in HR.

    HR is traditionally a soft-skills industry. How do we improve our analytical capabilities?

    The best place to start? An online class. An intro-level understanding of data analytics would be helpful to everyone in HR today. You don’t need a Ph.D. in data science, nor do you need to gain a mastery of statistical analysis. You can hire data scientists and data analytics teams for that. Your goal should be to adopt an analytical mindset where you can start to think in terms of ‘How do we apply data to our biggest business challenges, what kind of questions can we answer that we weren’t able to answer before, and how do we get access to the data and technology we need to improve the operations of our business?’

    Talent Acquisition and Talent Management departments are often disconnected. How do we connect these teams together so we have more access to data?

    This is really common area where silos form within HR. The first step is to build a business case for sharing data, which involves articulating the types of questions you want to answer and the results you’re aiming for.

    You can say, ‘As a talent acquisition organization, we don’t want to just understand our cost per hire or our time to hire. We want to understand how we’re impacting quality of hire and the overall performance of the business. The only way we can understand that is by getting access to post-hire data.’

    A big challenge in HR is being able to articulate bottom-line results. So, take your case a step further by saying, ‘We believe that by connecting performance data to pre-hire data, we can improve our hiring decisions for a 10% increase in sales’ – which, depending on your business, can have millions of dollars of impact. And that’s a compelling reason to make a change.

    There are a lot of IT products on the market. Which is best for HR analytics?

    The answer to this depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Before you look to technology, you first need to understand the business questions you’re trying to answer. Are you trying to solve for turnover? Are you trying to solve for performance, or diversity, or some other challenge? The technology you choose should be geared toward driving business intelligence in those areas.

    If you’re trying to solve for employee performance and turnover, you’ll benefit from using a predictive analytics tool in your selection process. A predictive talent assessment, for example, will analyze performance potential and turnover risk to identify your top candidates. Another good option is an employee engagement tool, where you can start to identify correlations between engagement, performance, and turnover. All of this you could potentially do on a spreadsheet, but the technology is there to provide efficiency and transparency into your processes.

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    To learn more about improving HR’s analytical capabilities and getting started with predictive talent analytics, watch our webinar: How to Gain an Edge with Predictive Talent Analytics

  6. Is Myers Briggs the Right Assessment for Talent Selection?

    The Myers Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) is one of the most widely used and well-respected personality instruments in the world. About two million people in the U.S. take the MBTI each year, and it’s been translated into over 30 languages.

    The MBTI provides fascinating insight into what drives an individual, how they interact with others, and how they might react in certain situations. But is it the right tool for talent selection?

    Despite its popularity, and the fact that the MBTI provides gratifying narratives that describe what type of person you are, this test doesn’t have much utility beyond self-understanding. People find it interesting to learn about themselves. The MBTI might help someone decide on a general career path (“INTJs make good scientists”), but it’s not meant for employers to evaluate a candidate’s fit for a particular job.

    Why not? Unlike assessments that are designed for talent selection, the MBTI doesn’t measure work-related aspects of an individual’s personality, and it doesn’t compare the results to specific job requirements, or a job success model.

    Ipsative vs. Normative: What’s the Difference?

    Myers Briggs and other ipsative tests like DISC (which measures Dominance, Influence, Conscientiousness, and Steadiness) are type-based tools. In the MBTI, test takers fall into one of sixteen personality types, indicated by four letters, such as INTJ, ESFJ, ENFP, etc.

    An ipsative test compares traits within an individual and identifies which traits are stronger than others. For example, someone might be more assertive than they are energetic. But this type of test won’t tell you how that person compares to other candidates in your applicant pool.

    When you break down the scoring on a personality test used for talent selection, you need to know two things:

    1. Where does a candidate fall on a particular trait (like assertiveness) compared to others? For this, you need to use a normative test, which measures an individual’s traits against a norm of standard performance. On an ipsative test, candidate A may show high assertiveness, but on normative test, you might see that candidate A is actually 2X less assertive than candidate B.
    2. How will a trait like assertiveness effect job performance? For customer service jobs, assertiveness isn’t as important as a trait like energy or accommodation or sociability. Measuring assertiveness for a store associate position might be interesting, but it won’t help you choose the candidate who will perform best on the job.

    When to Use an Ipsative Assessment, and When Not To

    As you can see, it’s essential to choose an assessment that fits your purpose. Myers Briggs and other ipsative tests work well for personal development, coaching, and vocational counseling. These tests can also be used for team building, as learning about coworkers’ personalities and work styles can help manage interactions within a team or department.

    But when it comes to making hiring or promotion decisions, where you must compare and rank people against each other, an ipsative test is not the way to go.

    For talent selection, you need a normative test, like Outmatch Assessment, which identifies candidates as a strong, good, fair, or poor match for the job, and provides a ranking that compares candidates to others applying for the same job. Outmatch Assessment also identifies areas where candidates are likely to struggle, and provides a development guide to help them become more effective in the role.

    Want to learn more about using assessments for talent selection and employee development? Tour the Outmatch Platform today.

  7. Top Competencies for Career Success

    Do you know which competencies are most critical for success at your organization? Your competencies for success will depend on several things: company culture, strategic vision, the size of your organization, and the type of business you’re in.

    For example, when Amazon hires leaders, they look for people who have backbone and aren’t afraid to disagree and commit. At Google, Eric Schmidt, CEO of Alphabet, Inc. (Google’s parent company) will tell you that persistence and curiosity are key. Top performers who thrive at Amazon won’t necessarily thrive at Google, and vice versa. Both companies are industry leaders, but they achieve success in very different ways.

    The best way to capitalize on workforce success is to tease out those “secret ingredients,” or the competencies for success that set your employees apart. When you’re ready to define those competencies, align your organization around those competencies, or support an organizational change, success modeling is the way to go. You’ll get a set of core competencies, including definitions and key behaviors for success, that are specific to your organization and leveled across different departments and job types.

    We know, based on our research and experience with clients, which competencies are most likely to drive success in different types of companies. For example, when a restaurant client hires their front or back of house staff, the standard success profile will include traits like sociability, resilience, and multitasking. But if your particular restaurant is focused on promotions and upselling, the ability to influence guests will be more important for bottom line performance.

    Hiring people who align with your competencies for success is a crucial first step, and you’ll begin see an impressive shift in business performance as you get more of the right people in the door. Then what? What makes those new hires want to stay with your organization? What makes them want to climb the ranks into leadership roles? Using pre-hire assessments to measure your key competencies, you can assess a candidate’s fit for your company, and also see how likely they are to grow and be successful in the future.

    To learn more about competencies and culture fit, see our success profiles for restaurant, retail, sales, leadership and more, or watch our webinar on hiring for quality, consistency, and culture.