How to use behavioural profiling tools to build effective teams by Emily Dean

At KDR, clients often call us in to help them fill a role as a result of a team restructure. However, assistance is often needed to define the role and the person who will best fit into that team. Behavioural profiling can offer great insight in this process so we asked Emily Dean, Managing Director of HR consultancy MacMaster Dean and a behavioural profiling specialist for her advice on using this tool.

Teamworking in organisations has certainly grown in importance over the years. CIPD research into the changing workplace shows roles becoming less individually defined and much more focussed on versatility and flexibility in teams. This is all good stuff – HR and OD professionals know that organisations which foster good teamworking enjoy improved productivity, enhanced quality of products or services, better focus on customers, quicker responses to opportunities or threats and improved flexibility. Perhaps the most important area where great teams provide competitive advantage over average ones is in the rapid spread of ideas. Silo mentalities and protectiveness fall by the wayside.

We know that teamworking usually works well for employees too. The CIPD cite that the most commonly-quoted positive outcomes for teamworking are greater job satisfaction and motivation, together with improved learning.

What is an effective team?

So what is an effective team and how can you use behavioural profiling to identify where you have gaps and what type of person you may want to recruit?

The first step is to identify the characteristics of high performing teams. Consider these in relation to the team that you lead or perhaps a senior management team or board of which you are a member.

Do you have:

  • a common sense of purpose
  • a clear understanding of the team’s objectives
  • resources to achieve those objectives
  • mutual respect among team members, both as individuals and for the contribution each makes to the team’s performance
  • appreciation of members’ strengths and respect for their weaknesses
  • mutual trust
  • willingness to share knowledge and expertise
  • willingness to speak openly
  • a range of skills among team members to deal effectively with all its tasks
  • a range of personal styles for the various roles needed to carry out the team’s tasks

All great in theory but how do we work out what we have got and how we can improve? I recommend having a look at a team audit tool which will allow your organisation to identify what the ideal team culture is, assess your organisation’s actual team culture and then show you what the gap between the two is.

The team audit tool also assesses each individual team member against the ideal team culture. This identifies their personality and preferred behaviour which means that with the right intervention you can improve the team’s performance. It might be that you need a team leader who is better able to adapt their management style or to recruit a team member with soft skills that are missing elsewhere eg communication or presentation skills. Amazing, eh?

I have successfully used the team audit tool in a variety of situations which you may recognise. Perhaps your team is not achieving its targets, your organisation’s strategy calls for a cultural change or you’ve come through a merger or acquisition. It can also help where there is an internal conflict, someone has left the team or a new manager is in place. The benefits of the team audit tool are considerable:

  • increased performance levels of teams from matching them to your ideal culture
  • team awareness of individual communication, sales and management styles
  • increased awareness of individuals’ and team motivators, fears and value to your organisation
  • ability to predict a team’s reaction to change which allows organisations to plan change with confidence

In relation to recruitment, the benefits include:

  • improved likelihood of making a successful hire because new team members have been identified specifically to have a behavioural and cultural fit
  • dramatic reduction in ongoing team building costs by making better hires
  • lower recruitment costs due to improved employee retention

The detailed personal knowledge you get for each team member is really powerful and means you can make a genuine difference on getting the best out of your teams. It focuses the mind when it comes to recruitment and helps with building new culture.

For more information on building effective teams, see research by Mike Woodcock’s team model. Belbin’s team roles model is also well worth looking at.

For more information on team assessment tools see Thomas International Team Audit and for the science of behavioural profiling, have a look at Thomas International PPA

Emily Dean is a commercially focussed HR generalist, having spent eight years in the professional services sector, most recently with Montpeller Group and another five years in consultancy. Her strengths lie in HR strategy, people development & performance and employee engagement. 


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