A client in Western Australia recently called regarding a profile we had just provided for a candidate. When shown the report, the candidate had questioned its validity because some of the traits listed appeared to be contradictory.
We notice contradictions because we are conditioned to thinking in terms of opposites: good and evil, right and wrong, black and white. The reaction to Tiger Woods in recent months is an example of this at work. Our conditioning leads us to want an explanation of how, for instance, someone so brilliant and talented (at golf) could be so stupid.
A more realistic approach is to view individual characteristics in terms of complementarity rather than contrast.
[Tweet “Instead of ‘either A or B’, make room for ‘both A and B’.”]
When you look at the people you already know well, are they always one thing or the other? Or are they more complex, able to show a range of behaviours in different situations?
What about yourself? Have you ever been told that you are, for example, an introvert when you know you can also be an extrovert? Was there any value to you in being labelled this way?
You are an infinitely complex being. We all are! Imagine how boring and predictable life would be otherwise.
So what was going on with our candidate mentioned above? Why did his profile show he possessed some traits that we expect to be opposites of each other?
One of the unique strengths of Harrison Assessments is that, unlike other tools, it takes the apparent paradoxes in our makeup and uses them to predict behaviour.
Most behavioural assessments fail to provide this insight because they rely on a traditional bipolar approach of measurement, which assumes an either/or relationship between traits by placing two related positive qualities on either end of a scale.
Communication, for example, typically looks at Diplomatic and Frank as traits. By placing Diplomatic and Frank on either end of the same scale, the bipolar approach assumes that the more Diplomatic you are, the less Frank you are and vice versa.
This assumption is false.
When you want insights into employee behaviour, will measuring communication in one dimension give you all the information you need?
What is important is not whether a person is Frank or Diplomatic, but the extent of their frankness and diplomacy to understand how these traits compliment each other.
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