5 Comments

Summary:

As web workers are generally spread across countries, timezones, cultures and organizations, creating and applying coherent management to distributed teams is challenging. Late last year, Celine shared some tips on avoiding conflicts within a teleworking team. Around the same time I came across UK-based “business psychology” […]

As web workers are generally spread across countries, timezones, cultures and organizations, creating and applying coherent management to distributed teams is challenging.

Late last year, Celine shared some tips on avoiding conflicts within a teleworking team. Around the same time I came across UK-based “business psychology” consultants, Psycuity, a company that asserts that it can help design better teams through understanding the underlying psychology of individual team members. Could this type of understanding be useful in figuring out how distributed web workers could work together more effectively?

Using psychometric testing and a long pedigree in psychology, Psycuity has codified a lot of the personality types, compatibilities and behaviors we might ordinarily find difficult to measure. Using these measurements, we can make helping more informed decisions about our teams.

After completing a short online questionnaire — it took about 20 minutes — I was called by one of Psycuity’s cofounders, Ian Hudson, who talked me through my test results. Ian had no prior knowledge or understanding of my work or personality, but spent half an hour or so breaking down his analysis of my interpersonal style, thinking style, coping strategies, leadership qualities, influencing styles and where in teams I would best fit. Frankly, I was astonished at Ian’s insights, which he later provided to me as a printed report. They accurately reflected probably around 90-95 percent of my self-image.

Psychometric testing is by no means a new tool for those managing and recruiting personnel, but the Psycuity guys have managed to package and streamline the experience to require minimal input from the test subject, while still providing a rich and very detailed analysis of their capabilities and qualities.

Circling back to Celine’s original thoughts on avoiding conflicts within teams, I wonder if it’s possible to use a company such as Psycuity to predict how well a group of untethered workers will work together. There are some interesting questions to consider:

  • Could Psycuity-style tests help prepare guidelines on how best to coalesce a diverse group of people into an effective team?
  • How would this type of screening be applicable to assess the “fitness” of a coworking community?
  • Can it only really work for people that work together in the same organization — or  would it also be useful for a group of collaborating freelancers.

Individually, I found a great deal of insight into my own behavior, but I’m curious to hear what others think. Can business psychology be used to enhance team spirit between disconnected, untethered, web workers?

Do leave your thoughts in the comments below — I’d love to hear everyone’s views on this.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. We ran through Meyers/Briggs at my 9-5 job as a way to make us better consultants to internal stakeholders (aka – how to be more valuable to our co-workers). The results, like those of Psycuity, were right on. We learned to work better with one another and understand the frequent disconnect in the team.

    So after all of this I went up to the host of the event, and asked the natural question. “Can we use this to build a better team”. The answer was, not really. First of all, these tests gauge past performance and preferences, not ability to succeed in the future. Opposites attract after all. Also, it may be considered discrimination to hire someone based on a personality test.

    That said, in one of my 5 interviews several years ago at the same company, a high-level executive did pass me a personality test. I took it on-site “for fun”, and was soon hired. Illegal or not, it happens.

  2. Thanks for your sharing your experiences – interesting I’d never considered the ‘past performance is not indicative of future results’ angle.

    There’re some ethics that need to be ironed out to safeguard against discrimination, but I don’t think that’s insurmountable.

    ( BTW, Celine’s just posted a related article on running meetings with virtual teams – http://webworkerdaily.com/2009/04/13/how-to-plan-virtual-meetings-with-a-global-teleworking-team/ )

  3. billbennettnz Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    One problem with psychometric tests is they can be scammed.

    Of course, attempting to scam the tests is not wise — you could get caught. I wrote about it here:

    See http://is.gd/svvb

  4. You only got 95% in a test about yourself?

  5. Psychometric testing is justifiable and compelling. Investors in cleantech and renewable energy firms intend to build and secure world-class leadership teams. The pursuit of excellence in management selection is a sustaining process which Gaia Human Capital Consultants recognizes as essential to the health and prosperity of any organization.

Comments have been disabled for this post