Self-awareness – the key that unlocks positive change

The goal of all the surveys we run is to create a greater sense of self-awareness, based on which actions can be identified and taken to improve performance.  Reflection – the building block of self-awareness – is the first step in any change programme, whether that’s at an organisational, team or individual level.  Where are we now? What do we know to be true about our situation?  What’s working and what isn’t working? What could we do better or differently?

self awarenessOur employee surveys bring self-awareness to the senior leadership team and managers of an organisation.  They highlight the key challenges and issues that their employees are facing – those aspects of the employee experience that might be affecting engagement.  Admittedly, they don’t give all the answers (see our blog on focus groups), but they bring out into the open what needs to be maintained and what needs to be fixed to ensure that employees have an experience which they find engaging.

360 feedback, more obviously, brings self-awareness to the individual.  It is designed to help individuals to see how their actions and behaviours are perceived by others, so that they can take action to develop their capabilities and maximise their impact. Very often the act of bringing into the open, in a safe way, the perceptions and expectations of others leads individuals to shift their behaviour slightly (see our blog on nudging behaviour).

Another tool in the The Survey Initiative survey toolkit is psychometrics – personality and motivation inventories used to explore an individual’s preferences and likely patterns of behaviour with regards to things like building relationships, making decisions and what drives and motivates them.  Psychometrics are frequently used in assessment and recruitment – part of a sifting process to check cultural and job fit.  At The Survey Initiative though, we tend to use them in situations where an employee or engagement survey has suggested that perhaps teams aren’t working cohesively, or where there are issues around people management capability.  In both these instances personality and motivational preference tests allow us to explore the strengths of an individual and the aspects of their personality that might be blocking them from being fully effective or engaged in their role.

As a business psychologist, these are some of my favourite tools to use. The feedback discussions had with individuals are powerful, meaningful and in some cases life-changing. I remember the project manager whose face lit up when they finally understood why they don’t always feel comfortable building relationships.  Through our discussion they came up with the idea of creating themselves a little credit card-sized card to go in their wallet with some opener questions on, to remind them and give them confidence to ask questions (and of course listen too), in order to build relationships.  I was pregnant at the time, and it brought tears to my eyes!

I mentioned above about using psychometrics when working with teams that aren’t working cohesively – you’ve probably heard the term ‘dysfunctional team’.  This is when the strengths and ‘weaknesses’ of the individuals in a team are out of balance – where differences in ways of working and interpersonal style are blocking the effectiveness of the team, creating dynamics that prevent effective decision-making at best and sabotage behaviour at worst.  In these situations, we work individually at first, using psychometrics to build self-awareness in the individuals within the team.  We then bring everyone together to share insights and discuss and agree on team goals and ways of working.  Interventions such as these positively impact the individuals involved, but there’s also a ripple effect down through the organisation.  When an employee or engagement survey tells us that there’s a lack of collaboration across the organisation it usually starts from the top.  So, creating greater cohesiveness and positive dynamics at the top will filter down to create a more cohesive and collaborative culture.

If you’d like to find out more about how psychometrics could help you and your organisation please do get in touch with us.  We’ve also got more information on our individual and team coaching service here.