‘There’s value in raising awareness, but the real question is what a person or team chooses to do with that awareness.’ I made this comment to a colleague today who works in team development using various psychometric tools.
I’ve noticed implicit assumptions among some practitioners using such tools (e.g. MBTI or MVPI), as if enabling team members to understand more about themselves and each other will of itself lead to improved relationships and effective working. I don’t doubt the value of psychometrics when used well but I do want to add other dimensions to the awareness-raising equation. My sense is that fundamental and sustainable development in an individual or team only really occurs when the A of Awareness is matched by the corresponding A of Attitude and A of Action.
It’s quite feasible, for instance, that in some team environments and cultures, greater awareness will simply lead to greater competitive advantage at an interpersonal level (‘now that I know this about you, I can use it against you to my advantage’). The issue of Attitude is, therefore, really points to deeper issues of underlying beliefs, values and intention. How can we encourage and build humanistic values in individuals and teams so that they will use what they learn ethically and to mutual rather than selfish advantage?
It’s also quite feasible that team members will learn new things about themselves and others but fail to act differently on the basis of that awareness in their day-to-day interactions. It’s like the biblical notion of a person looking in a mirror then walking away only to forget what he or she looks like. The issue of Action, therefore, is really about securing commitment to new behaviour and making it stick. How can we ensure that what will feel alien for people at first will become second nature over time?
So there is the challenge. To approach psychometrics in teambuilding with a wider perspective in view and to broaden our practice to (a) inquire into values and (b) ensure implementation.
Nick Wright is a coach and consultant, specialising in reflective practice.