How To Design Extraordinary Team Performance

Resumes and personality tests are helpful tools in revealing an individual’s skill-set or personality traits; however, such tools cannot predict how individuals will apply those skills and traits in a real-world/real-work environment. So how do we make up for this lack of information? In the following guest post, Mickey Parsons, The Workplace Coach Founder, describes his experience using ‘gut feel’ and personality testing to predict an individual’s behavior, and how Teamability® emerged to provide the missing link.

In his 2005 book entitled Winning, Jack Welch says that even at his best, he only hired right about 80% of the time. Personally, I think for most of us it is more like 50/50: a simple toss of the coin, despite our best efforts. As a student of human behavior and someone who has been managing people for almost 25 years, I consider myself a good judge of people. And yet, like most, I’ve hired people because I immediately felt a connection or ‘liked’ them or because they reminded me of myself in some way, thinking they could ‘grow into’ the job even if it wasn’t a good match at the moment. About half the time I got lucky, the rest resulted in struggle, high costs and ultimately termination.

Enter Dr. Janice Presser and Teamability®. When I discovered Teamability® through recruiter friends of mine a few years ago I thought, ‘what a terrific way to help people minimize the cost and frustration of putting people in the wrong job.’ I wanted to help my client companies (and myself) build stronger, high performing teams that are more agile, personally rewarding and corporately profitable. So, I went through the initial training and started spreading the word about this exciting new technology.

Then I gave it to someone on my team. And the report came back.

It’s one thing to read a report about someone you don’t know. When it’s someone you think you know, it’s an entirely different matter. Especially when right there, in front of your eyes, it gives you some cautionary statements about how that person will interact with others.

Besides, I’d already read the reports from typical personality tests and they seemed fine, even complimentary. And of course there was that magnificent resume.

Teamability® answers the question, “What really happens when people ‘team’ together?” Twenty-five years of research and testing, including nine years of software development, produced a technology engineered to identify and organize the ways in which people interact in teams. This completely new ‘technology of teaming’ is not derived from personality or IQ testing, from EQ, strengths, or engagement surveys, or from any other familiar tools or methods. During the course of its development, Dr. Presser and her colleague Dr. Gerber discovered some very useful – and practical – metrics of ‘teaming.’ They include:
  • Role: a person’s affinity for specific modes of service to the needs of a team
  • Coherence: expressed as positive, flexible, constructive teaming behaviors
  • Teaming Characteristics: individual styles of responding and relating to others, subject to situational context
  • Role-respect: the unique manner in which people of different Roles experience appreciation and respect
  • Role-pairing: known, replicable synergies between specific Roles

So when I read the report, I wasn’t thinking about what the job actually required in terms of interaction. Pretty good for a professional coach, right? Hold on to your hat…it got worse.

At the time, there were things in the report that I did not want to hear about one of my team members. Therefore, I chose to ignore them and even questioned the validity. But hindsight being 20/20, I should have paid attention. And I found that I wasn’t alone.

With time and opportunity, I continued to discuss the technology with my corporate clients as a possible option for designing new teams and bolstering existing ones. I also encouraged HR departments to consider it for employment screening. What I found was resistance. Just like me, these smart, hardworking business owners, leaders and executives were afraid of what they might find; if, after all, some of their suspicions were validated, what would they do about it? Ignore the results as I had or face the potential daunting task of reorganization to get the ‘right people in the right seats on the bus’? As we know, troubles ignored always lead to more distress and demand more resources than they would if we had taken more immediate action.

What are your ineffective leaders, managers and employees costing you? Ultimately, I was fortunate that my employee only cost me the temporary loss of one major account. How tremendous would it be to know in advance how our partners and employees would naturally team at work and avoid such costly mistakes? As leaders, we must be proactive and use what we have at our disposal to build coherent teams…the infrastructure of successful businesses, because at the end of the day, business is all about people. The alternative is too costly in both fiscal and non-monetary terms.

I have come to believe that Teamability® gives us the power to build a more innovative, collaborative (and even happier) workforce. Yes, you might want to move a few people into positions that better match their Roles; you may even want to escort some to new organizations. But the eventual result will be the gift of greater productivity and success for everyone.

I just wish I’d followed my own advice!
This post originally appeared on The Workplace Coach Blog.

About the Author
As Founder of The Workplace Coach, Mickey has coached thousands of executives, business leaders and professionals from local businesses, Fortune 500 companies, to nonprofit organizations and several International clients. Mickey holds a masters degree in educational psychology along with numerous professional credentials, and serves as Assistant Professor of Coaching Psychology for Life University’s School of Psychology in Marietta, GA. Mickey has been a contributor to Men’s Health, Atlanta Journal-Constitution,, among others, and is currently completing a doctorate in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.


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