Does individual and organisational profiling work?

There is often scepticism around whether the various profiling tools that are around do more harm than good. Or, are they a way for consultants to feather their nests with brightly coloured charts and strange sounding descriptions..

Today I spent time with a client debriefing a HBDI pair profile.  Yes, the profile is interesting, and gives individual and collective insights that would otherwise not be achieved. But, a vitally important benefit is that it also enables a conversation and gives a framework and language to that conversation.  Often, those insights and conversations just don’t happen without such a framework.

There are a few things to consider before embarking down the profiling path..

  • Firstly, the key thing to consider is what are you are hoping to achieve with the profiling. What are you planning to do with the results? What information/insights are you hoping that it will provide you?
  • Depending on what you are looking for, sometimes, a bespoke solution created just for your organisation or team can work fine, and is often a cheaper option. Remember though, that it won’t necessarily give you benchmarking capability across a broader section of industries, countries, sectors etc. And, depending on whose has created it, it may not be scientifically validated.  This may not matter, but it’s important to consider it before heading down that path..
  • Does the tool require an accredited person to debrief the results or can anyone do it? What will you do with the results — will you share them with people who aren’t trained to read the profiles? Are there risks that the process/tool will be derailed by untrained people interpreting the results incorrectly?
  • What support is available for participants beyond the debrief? If it’s being used as a development tool, then how will the results be used? If it’s remedial in nature, how will the person be supported?

Whatever tool you use; remember that the results don’t define the participants. The profile is is simply that, a tool. Of more importance and interest is how will you use the insights and the results.

Insights without action is useless..

So, if your organisation or team is embarking on this process, whether it’s a 360 feedback, or some other leadership profile or organisational profile, think about:

  • Why are you doing this?
  • How will you do it (how will you engage stakeholder and communicate and engage participants?)
  • What will you do with the results?
  • How will you support the participants post the process — both the debriefing process and subsequent development?
  • How does this fit into a broader people, leadership and cultural strategy? Can the participants see the links?
  • Is this a one off or anticipated to be a regular process?

In my view, profiling CAN provide insights and subsequent development that is invaluable, to both the individual participant and a broader cross section of the organisation. But, it needs to be well thought out and considered.. And something needs to be done with the data.

Until next week, happy leading.

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