A recent post on CNBC indicated that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ is “obsessed” with a bias for action decision-making style. To see if you, those you know and those you might hire possess this critical trait, answer these questions using this 1-5 scale before reading further.
- 1-Totally Not Me
- 2-Pretty Much Not Me
- 3-Kind of Like Me
- 4-Pretty Much Me
- 5-Totally Me
Group A Questions – Intuitive vs. Analytical
- I am very comfortable making important decisions under tight deadlines with limited information.
- Sometimes making any decision is more important than procrastinating.
- I get frustrated when people can’t decide quickly.
- I didn’t hesitate at all answering these questions.
Based on your total score position yourself on the BEST Personality Type Indicator shown in the graphic with the higher scores on the far right. Those with a high total score tend to have a “bias for action” since they’re naturally faster decision-makers and highly intuitive. However, this doesn’t mean these people are competent when making these decisions. Determining this starts with the next set of questions.
Group B Questions – Analytical vs. Intuitive
- I don’t like making important decisions without all of the necessary facts and information.
- I’d rather get it right even if it takes extra time to conduct the analysis.
- I get frustrated when people make important decisions without all of the needed information.
- I wanted to understand the implications of these questions before answering them.
Those with a high total score on the Group B questions are on the far left. These people tend to be more conservative and analytical when making important decisions, but, as above, the score does not measure a person’s competency in conducting the analysis – just their preferences. A combination of high scores on both sets of questions is probably best, but this is still not conclusive.
I’ve taken and given dozens of different personality style questionnaires claiming to predict on-the-job performance and fit including Myers-Brings, DiSC, Predictive Index, Calipers, Profiles International and the Enneagram, among others. The BEST Personality Type Indicator is a simplified collective summary of all of these tests. Based on using this tool and having worked with hundreds of people who have taken these same tests and tracked their post hire performance, I’ve concluded the following:
- Because these types of tests don’t measure ability, they are relatively poor predictors of on-the-job performance. The problem is that there are just too many false positives (should be good but isn’t) and false negatives (should be bad but isn’t) to be used to predict on-the-job performance. In my opinion being statistically valid isn’t good enough when it comes to hiring.
- While personality type indicator assessments are poor predictors of on-the-job performance, they are useful confirming indicators. Being used this way involves asking candidates to first describe their most significant accomplishments related to the realistic performance objectives of the job. This approach will reveal a “bias for action” and if there’s a fit on this measure, it’s certainly appropriate to determine if the person’s personality style is consistent with the expectations. If not, it could be the person “skins the cat” in another perfectly acceptable and possibly superior way.
- These assessments are very useful after the hire to improve team performance by understanding how people interact, collaborate, communicate and make decisions. Of course, all of this could have been predicted before the hire by using the Sherlock Holmes interviewing technique to assess team skills.
Bottom line: While the static version of the BEST test is interesting, it’s only moderately useful for assessing candidates for the reasons cited above. However, here’s what I’ve observed when asking candidates to describe their most significant accomplishments at different periods of time:
- As the strongest people mature, they move to the Coaching position in the center of the BEST graphic. This way they can see all sides of the issue and adapt their natural style to better fit the needs of the situation.
- Under stress people move away from the center position. In some cases, their behavior can become destructive. For example, dominant people can become overbearing while overly cautious people can be afraid to make decisions.
- Those with a “bias for action” on the right side of the BEST graphic can screw things up pretty fast if it isn’t tempered with logical thinking, analysis and planning. This is the stuff on the left side of the graphic. That’s why you need to assess competency in parallel with style and preferences.
Hire with Your Head: A Rational Way to Make a Gut Decision was my first book on hiring. The subtitle says it all. While a bias for action is a critical decision-making trait, it should be put in the parking lot when it comes to hiring.