For many companies, employee-related costs are the single largest expense, accounting for more than 50 percent of some budgets. Common business challenges such as employee turnover and underperformance further increase costs and operational risks. For instance, organizations invest heavily in onboarding new employees—including training, production ramp-up and fulfilling compliance obligations. That investment is instantly lost when employees leave.
And then there are those employees who stay with an organization even though they are not a great fit. This creates a talent gap that keeps companies from reaching their true potential.
For these reasons, an increasing number of companies are turning to the discipline of talent optimization and employee profiling to close the gap and get more out of their employees. Talent assessments can provide accurate and objective measurements for use across an entire organization. And for companies with worldwide offices, it can become even more complicated.
Our guest in the latest episode of Globally Speaking Radio, Vanessa Darling, is the Localization Program Manager of The Predictive Index (PI), the leading provider of talent optimization services, and plays an integral role in localizing assessments and content. Vanessa shared her thoughts on talent optimization, the challenges of adapting assessments to a multitude of languages and how this effort can contribute to better work and a better world.
What is talent optimization?
Talent optimization is the process of aligning a company’s business and talent strategies to achieve optimal business results. Or, as Vanessa puts it, “Businesses have business problems which, in reality, are people problems.” By focusing on and fixing the human element, organizations can solve many of their core issues.
For PI, talent optimization is a four-part discipline that seeks to collect, analyze and apply people data. As Vanessa explains, the four categories of a successful talent optimization approach are:
- Design. This category “drives business results by aligning leadership to a winning strategy.”
- Hire. “And this one is really important…how we hire the best-fit talent with confidence and fast, using people data [including behavioural assessments].”
- Inspire. “How to empower managers to build and lead high-performing teams that are going to be able to champion their culture.”
- Diagnose. “Maximize productivity by identifying the root cause of disengagement…through basically engagement surveys.”
Talent optimization assessments
The main tools of talent optimization are cognitive and behavioural assessments. You have no doubt heard of the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator, and what PI has developed is similar. PI’s cognitive assessment features 50 problems that people must answer in 12 minutes. They are given a score that indicates their ability to process complex information and deal with the cognitive demands of a specific position.
PI’s behavioural assessment is an untimed test that helps identify personality traits. According to Vanessa, people are categorized into profiles of workplace behaviour: “A, B, C and D. A is dominance. B is extraversion. Patience is C. Formality is D.”
These behavioural profiles provide employers with an objective and simple formula for understanding candidate and employee behaviour. For example, a “high B [person] is very high in extroversion, and those people love to be interrupted, you know, in their office. And the ones that are a little low B, they would prefer a little bit of notice, maybe an email, to warn them [that] we have a question for them and maybe that they would want to prep for it.”
In addition to identifying suitable candidates, knowing about employee behaviour and working styles can create more productive and collaborative work environments. Knowing an individual’s profile allows supervisors and co-workers to manage and interact with that person according to their unique attributes.
Global talent differences—and similarities
There are, of course, some global variations in employee profiles. For example, Vanessa, being a native of France, notes the less-structured approach that French workers take toward meetings: “Maybe you don’t prep as much [for] a meeting and you tend to be a little bit free-flowing when you arrive and you share ideas, as opposed to the US where you have more of an agenda, which might be, you know, the same approach in Scandinavian countries or Germany.”
Differences in culture are not defined by the geographic boundaries of countries. Global brands must not only contend with the cultural diversity of their workforce, but also must learn to balance these differences with corporate culture. Talent optimization goes a long way toward helping brands achieve this balance. Vanessa acknowledges these differences: “There’s definitely workplace [diversity] wherever we go. [It varies] per country, per culture, and anyone who has worked in different countries knows that [the] workplace is very much the reflection of a culture.” That being said, Vanessa also points out that there are many personality similarities within the global workforce. For example, she notes that the most common profile in the world is high B: the extroverted collaborator and promoter.
PI’s ultimate goal is to bring about “Better work. Better world.” As Vanessa explains, “if we work better, if we have a better workplace, we simply have better lives and, therefore, a better world.”
Tune in to Globally Speaking’s 107th episode to hear the entire discussion with Vanessa Darling about global workplace optimization. You can also sign up to be notified about future episodes.