Having conducted Assessments and Surveys now for quite some time, I have realized one interesting factor in Surveys. There is something about how people score others in a Survey which points to interesting insights.
Let’s be honest that Surveys need to be taken with a pinch of salt, and it has multiple reasons for such a statement. I have noticed teams ganging up to pat each others’ backs during Surveys to give everyone an impression of ‘all’s well’ with a high score and place the team on the top of the heap. Such behavior isn’t uncommon but dilutes the objective of the Survey in the first place. Similarly, most Surveys finds also the top management positions scoring every organisation policy to be perfect and effective, even if their own teams are suffering due to such policy effects.
Such scoring behavior can be attributed to the herd mentality or focus on personal aspirations respectively, emanating from what one considers important or urgent to address, rather than the core objective of the Survey. Sadly, HR often is gullible to such fallacy of scoring and rarely understands the human behavioral temptation in the first place.
This behavioral imperfection can however be controlled to a great extent by using some techniques I have developed to ensure that biases and influences are least influential; complete elimination of such biases are anyways impossible. Reducing group impact by looking at ratings against variable parameters and using non-interested parties to evaluate ensures that influencer ratings are reduced to a huge extent. I have no hesitation in saying that such cartelization of team scores can be found across different functions, with Human Resources often being the most honest in most sessions, while they know the tricks and techniques the best! (Kudos to HR here!)
So what are the techniques to control or find accurate ratings? This can be classified into two parts; Self Survey & 360 Surveys
During self-surveys, where the participant needs to do a self-evaluation, please do not ask straight questions. This will obviously see the participant scoring at a few basis points shy of top scores or absolutely low scores where the participant is well-aware that the factor is well known to be a weakness among close colleagues. Rather, ask situational questions and ask the participant to select one of the multiple choices on a Likert Scale.
So instead of asking, ‘Kindly rate yourself for honesty on a scale of 1–5, where 1 is low and 5 is highest’ ask the participant to rate the situations for the importance of being honest on a scale of 1–5;
1) to own team,
2) to boss and seniors,
3) to the organisation at large,
4) to the clients and colleagues,
5) to personal work ethics.
I’m sure you know the right answer, but this kind of questioning ensures cartelization gets highlighted in case the group chooses a particular answer as preference for top priority; in reality, participants are more keen to appear honest and avoid such evidence of herd mentality, participants prefer posting their own responses which are often much less biased towards herd affinity but may end up being more honest.
So how about 360 Surveys?
One of the rare observations we made after several rounds of surveys was the propensity to score participants closer to 4 on a range of 1–5. While there are some of the rare evaluators to refuse to rate anyone above 3 as a rare condition, this highlights two core aspects;
The higher evaluators rate each other, irrespective of the factor being assessed (other than negatively scored factors), it definitely highlights high camaraderie amidst the group/team. Now while high scores are an obvious between two colleagues, hovering near the 4 score is something interesting. 4+ scores are rare and highlight true confidence in the participant. Else, one would contend with a 3.8 to 4 as maximum scores and this is reflected across multiple Survey projects. Anyone rating the participant as 4.1 and above on a scale of 1–5 shows that either the two are a great team or that the participant truly deserves such a high score. In both cases, it is good news for the organisation as a highly co-ordinated team with high confidence between the team members and it is a great sign for future success.
So while rule number one of situational questions is important to get a true perspective, checking for the count of 4+ scores is an added measure of confidence among the team.
What else can be observed against the scores for true meaning? This is where the self-evaluation scores of the participant come to play vis-à-vis evaluators. When a participant’s self-scores are lower than the evaluator mean, it highlights the introverted or humble nature of the participant. It also could denote a gap in confidence, depending on the count of factors where the participant self-scores low. However, self-scoring higher than the evaluators highlights over-confidence and an inability to read one’s worth in other’s eyes. Both ends of such scores hold great meaning for assessing leadership potential and that is where the third aspect of survey score reading techniques come into play.
I hope this was interesting and please feel free to reach out to us at Pexitics to let us help your teams benefit from such deep insights we gather and share with you and your teams for a new technique of Surveying.