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Confessions of a PI convert

By Ed Nathanson

As someone who has been in the recruiting business for over 20 years now, I can’t even attempt to list all of the different “must have” tools over the years (and a lot of them turns out were far from “must have”). As a business function, we are always looking to gain an edge, be it in sourcing, screening, attraction, applicant tracking systems or whatever can make us “better” at our jobs. I like to think I am an early adopter of things, and literally will experiment with anything if it will make me and my teams more effective. However – the one tool that I was most definitely against out of the gate were personality assessments. “OK – let’s have a screening tool that will make it even harder to fill jobs” was my mantra. I envisioned scenarios where I find that perfect skill match, have the candidate take the survey and then have it all blow up in the end because the candidate wasn’t “insert behavior desired” here. My thinking went beyond that to the actual credibility of the tests themselves – thinking they were more “Jedi -mind trick” BS than actually anything of substance. I dug my heels in on this one for years, and took joy in taunting the sales folks from these companies who called on me. Then everything changed – even for this stubborn dude.

I had taken a new role as a Sr. Talent Acquisition Manager at an international company that had been using the PI Behavioral Assessment for 30 years. I was excited about the role, the team I would be leading and the challenge of what was ahead. What I did not know in the interviewing process was just how deeply committed this company was to PI and how effective the Behavioral Assessment had been for them. From my point of view coming in, if this had been communicated to me in the interview process I very well might have turned down the role because of it. However, here I was two weeks into my new gig and the conversation happened. “We need you to take the course on PI.” I responded incredulously to my manager and said “I don’t believe in that crap – just let me do my job” and the response was very much akin to “If you like your job, you will take the course.” Consider me taking the course.  Going in with the major skepticism I had, it was amazing how I left the course. This stuff was amazing and incredibly valuable. I began to understand that the PI Behavioral Assessment can have a major impact on building well-functioning teams from a hiring perspective, but my thoughts immediately went to a point that goes way beyond candidate assessment – team effectiveness and communication.

Most companies use tools like PI’s Behavioral Assessment strictly for assessing potential hires, and there is most definitely a lot of value there. However, there is so much more that those assessment tools can be used for. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we knew what motivated our team members and how they respond to certain environments or conditions? As a manager, wouldn’t it be cool if you knew how best to motivate and communicate with your team? As an employee, would it not be epic to have your manager and team members “get” you? We all know the answer to all these questions is an emphatic “hell yes” but most companies don’t use the tool this way. One of the things I have done in my experiences with the PI Behavioral Assessment is to have “team workshops” – where we get together as a team, discuss our individual PI behavioral patterns and then use the coolest new tool in the PI utility belt – the “group analytics report.” There, in all its glory, is the team mapped out from a motivator point of view – and it often gives the teams some serious “a-ha” moments that truly help build bridges to better team dynamics. Ever wonder why your buddy is “slow” with email responses? Or why your manager communicates the way he/she does? It’s all there – and then some. Not only can this tool show the team dynamics in a tangible way, but as the folks at PI often say “if you know what motivates you, and what motivates others, you can value the differences” and good things are most likely to result.

Gone are the days of dismissing behavioral assessment tools for this dude. Yes – using them for candidate assessment is great, but there is so much value there beyond just the hiring aspects. No workplace will ever be perfect, but understanding why people behave the way they do can go a long way to making it better – and more productive. Take it from one of the biggest haters there was.


Thad is a senior marketing director at PI.

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