The value of using leadership and team assessments during the change process

You already know that data is essential to successful change in healthcare: measuring and benchmarking clinical utilization, labor and non-labor ratios, patient satisfaction, and clinical quality measures.

Assessing leaders and teams to get data about thinking styles, communication styles, and behavioral traits can also be quite valuable.

First, any assessment tool needs to be highly reliable and validated. It is a dirty secret in the assessment industry that some of the better known assessment tools, as well as the ones that seem to have the most bells and whistles or the fanciest marketing, often are the least valid. The assessment tool that we use has been tested against hundreds of thousands of leaders worldwide and achieved on of the highest validity and reliability scores in the world.

Second, a good assessment tool should be normative. That is, it compares an individual to other similar individuals, putting them on a bell curve so that the individual sees where he stands on various attributes. That way, he has a clear understanding of his strengths, as well as how hard he has to stretch or adapt in order to match up with other people with different styles. Note that some of the more popular tools on the market are not normative but rather ipsitive; they rely on self-reporting to produce their reports, which means they they are less reliable.

With this kind of data, clinical and scientific professionals tend to respond positively. They are accustomed to the bell curve, and understand statistical validity. Also, they appreciate the fact that we can take what might seem to be subjective traits and convert them to more data-driven descriptions. Instead of wondering why another person is so difficult to deal with, now they have data that gives them insights and helps them know exactly how to approach that person in a more productive manner.

Clients have had some valuable insights with the help of assessments. Here are some common examples:

  • Some clients discover that they might process information so quickly that they assume others do the same. If they are not careful, the majority of the organization will not understand everything they are trying to communicate. The risk is that communication about the change process will go sideways if the leader does not learn to adapt, or enlist team members who are more skilled at communicating to the full range of the bell curve.
  • The executive team learns that there are differences in levels of assertiveness among members. We have worked with teams in which none of the members were especially assertive, team in which almost all of the members were quite assertive compared to the general population, and teams with wide variations in assertiveness. Each scenario created a different dynamic, different opportunities, and different risks.
  • The team leader learns that they are able to balance multiple priorities without stress, and expect others to do the same. However, they are surprised to find out that some of their colleagues do not have the same ability and are often stressed out and frustrated by their pacing. They need more time to check quality, get feedback, and have set milestones to review progress.
  • Some leaders take a long time to make decisions and need lots of information, while others tend to make rapid decisions using their gut instincts and intuition. When leaders at opposite ends of this spectrum work together and don’t have the awareness to respect the strengths of each approach, they often have conflicts.
  • Some leaders like to work in groups and others work most effectively alone. Similarly, some are comfortable speaking up in groups, while others are more comfortable having one-on-one conversations. Once team members understand each other’s preferences, they have an easier time structuring work and making sure that everyone’s ideas are considered.
  • Some leaders work well under rules and layers of management, and are quite accommodating. Others are more independent, less manageable, and like to challenge the existing structures. When team members understand that these are natural preferences and traits, they can see them as strengths rather than as a source of conflict.
  • Some team members are more patient when it comes to hearing lengthy explanations, and others need a quick, bottom-line summary. Knowing this information can reduce tension and make meetings and relationships (especially between managers and direct reports) more productive.

We are able to get an entire executive and leadership team’s thinking styles and personality profile on a single page. This tells us where the team has similarities, potential conflicts, strengths, and possible blind spots that could get the team into trouble. It helps team members to work more effectively as well as to know when they might need to bring in additional people to balance out potential blind spots.

Doing an assessment like the one described above doesn’t take a lot of time. It does open up the possibility for team members to understand each other better, have more open and honest communication, and discuss what they need from each other in order to make any strategic initiative or change initiative be more successful.

If you would like to discuss how a simple assessment can accelerate your team’s ability to make change happen, contact us at