Posted: 1st August 2014
Behaviours are complicated: they are driven by factors such as values and beliefs, motivation and mind-set, and attitudes and emotions. Behaviours also help to form habits and drive results. Unfortunately, we have seen through research and personal experience that people are not very good at predicting the behaviours of others. In general, the strategies used to assess the personality, attitudes and abilities of others are overly simplistic and subject to human distortion.
It is important to address all stages of the employee lifecycle so that your firm is able to make effective decisions regarding: recruitment, development, management and retention of your key people. You must ensure that the right behaviours are displayed from the top down. Tools such as assessment centres (AC) and development centres (DC) aid significantly in assessing and instilling the behaviours necessary for continuing the culture you wish to be embedded within your organisation.
AC/DC and your firm
Assessment centres – employees and potential employees are tested in a variety of ways to demonstrate to you their suitability for particular roles. Assessment centres are normally pass / fail situations and the outcomes may not be fed back to candidates.
Development centres – employees undertake various activities to assess their own and their peers’ behaviours and aptitudes. Feedback is generated to help candidates’ development (e.g. talent programmes or moving from front line to management roles). Development centres are not a pass or fail situation, the participants are expected to take some ‘ownership’ of their own feedback.
The regulatory context
Clearly, trust is paramount. According to Martin Wheatley, Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) “…customer-focused [firms]…make sure their customers are steered towards the best products and the most suitable” (2013). Customers must be able to rely on firms to advise them appropriately and it is up to firms to guarantee they have the right people and to develop their skills unremittingly. Recently, the FCA has focused extensively on the importance of organisational culture. As the following quote by Clive Adamson suggests, culture at an organisational level is inextricably linked to behaviour at an individual level.
”…if by advancing someone you are essentially telling them that their behaviour within the workplace is appropriate, or even outstanding, then you need to ensure, and be able to demonstrate, that they are reinforcing the right values before making that decision and embedding that behaviour” (2014)
One of the challenges faced by the FCA is that despite the efforts made by firms and the regulator itself, the financial services industry remains the least trusted sector of all the main global industries. The Edelman Insights Survey (2013) reported financial services as having a 48% trust rating. This compares to the highest ranking industry, technology (73%). Even the car industry has a 66% trust rating!
The FCA’s renewed focus in the space of culture and behaviour has raised these matters on the corporate agenda. Whilst the regulator may not be measuring these things specifically, it will be searching for tacit signs that behaviour and culture are aligned with the goals of the business.
Finally, research suggests that C-suite executives understand “that a distinguishing characteristic of successful organisations is the ability to identify, develop and deploy exceptional leadership talent” (Linda Garrett and Sheri Caldwell: What is Learning Agility and Why Should I Care?). Huntswood’s own experience suggests that enlightened organisations are increasingly aligning their assessment and development objectives with the wider agendas of their businesses, including their regulatory initiatives.
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