Ensuring a team of employees will effectively collaborate on a project might seem like a scenario with an unavoidably wide margin of error – but a new service from Vancouver-based TalentClick aims to minimize it.

The risk-based personality assessment firm recently announced Team Analytics, a new feature for its online data platform that converts TalentClick’s signature personality-based predictive analytics data, which in turn is based on 10 – 15-minute online assessments similar to the Myers-Briggs test, into visual reports that managers can use to predict whether certain employees are likely to perform well together; or, if they’re not, diagnose challenges and identify areas for improvement.

“Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees,” TalentClick CEO Greg Ford tells ITBusiness.ca. “So what Team Analytics does is help identify and put your finger on certain issues that you just might not know are going on.”

A place for “Katie”

TalentClick CEO Greg Ford
TalentClick CEO Greg Ford says that his company’s analytics platform can highlight challenges to group dynamics that managers might miss.

As an example, Ford shared a case study from an unnamed “multi-billion dollar utility company” that used a beta version of Team Analytics to identify the reason for dysfunction among several members of its accounting department.

After each member of the department submitted their assessment test, TalentClick staff used team analytics to convert the results into a scatter plot graph that clustered many employees together – but also revealed an outlier who not only scored well outside many of her coworkers’ personality traits, but was immediately identified by her manager, Ford says.

“It was like a eureka moment for him,” Ford says. “He said, ‘That’s Katie… she’s a brilliant accountant, but doesn’t quite fit with the team.'”

“Most accountants, as you would probably expect, are quite introverted, very analytical,” Ford says. “They just want to sit in front of their computer and crunch numbers. But it turned out Katie was exceptionally outgoing – she always wanted to chat about what she did on the weekend, or the latest movies, or clothes – and she could talk and work at the same time, but it was quite disruptive for everyone else.”

The answer, of course, wasn’t to fire Katie – her outgoing nature and reliable productivity made her a perfect coworker for other extroverted employees, even if most of them weren’t accountants, and they also made her a terrific leader, Ford says. On any project, her manager said, she was the employee most likely to take charge and motivate her coworkers.

“The other accountants were wallflowers, if you will – they were meeker and didn’t want to stand out,” he says. “And they certainly didn’t want to speak in front of a crowd as their team’s dynamic leader.”

“At the end of the day, Katie’s manager moved her to a different physical location, next to the customer service people, who were gregarious and outgoing themselves,” Ford continues with a chuckle. “It was a dream come true – she was happier, the other accountants were happier, and after a few months, her company ended up promoting her to a leadership role.”

Many managers lack training

The problem, Ford says, is that the majority of managers haven’t been trained in leadership development or team-building – instead they’re usually their company’s technical leaders.

“The best accountant gets promoted to comptroller. The best salesperson gets promoted to be director of sales. The best carpenter gets promoted to superintendent of the construction team,” he says, noting that while there’s nothing wrong with that – many employees are more likely to listen to an expert in their field than an outside manager – there are ways to compensate that few companies use, and that’s where Team Analytics can come in.

“Team analytics can help define the benchmark scores for your best employees, mapping your top performers to a scatter plot graph to create the ideal hiring benchmark,” he explains, adding that candidates or employees who fall outside the benchmark, like Katie, shouldn’t necessarily be dismissed, but further analyzed to gauge whether they’ll fit elsewhere.

“Based on your initial pass you could ask the person, say, behavioural questions about their leadership, or attention to detail, or conceptual thinking details, or of their references when you do reference checks,” he says.

Team Analytics will be available free to TalentClick users starting on Nov 30. While the company doesn’t disclose the number of companies that use its subscription-based platform, or specific customers, Ford says it has expanded to 40 countries since its founding four years ago and is used by multiple Fortune 500 companies.

For more information, visit TalentClick’s website, or click here to request a free trial.

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