T+D April 10 // Intelligence //
Taking Inventory of Myers-Briggs
By Juana Llorens
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has long dominated the realm of personality instruments. But are history and precedent enough for it to hang onto its crown?
From its humble family origins during World War II to its spike in popularity during the 1970s, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) has enjoyed a mostly unchallenged place in the sun. Many in learning and development tout its capability to provide deft insight into personality alongside job-fit, coaching requirements, and organizationwide interaction.
One cannot dismiss, however, that the MBTI is fundamentally a tool—an implement among several others. And by its nature, it is not above reproach as changes in the workplace and society stipulate new kinds of insight into individuals and working relationships. This is evidenced by the fact that some in the learning field feel that these days, the MBTI lags behind its competitors in efficacy.
Bruce Roselle is the founder and principal of Roselle Leadership Strategies, which utilizes MBTI on a regular basis. He thinks that part of the perception problem rests in the age of the inventory. “There is a tendency for people to gravitate toward the new and exciting,” Roselle states. “The MBTI has been around for so long, and so many have taken or used it, that for certain people, it has lost some of its cachet.”
In addition to longevity, the relative complexity of the MBTI might be responsible for a slip in regard. “It’s harder for people to remember all of the letters and distinctions within the MBTI. It lacks that ‘sound-byte’ quality,” adds Roselle.
But given that there are those in the learning field who find ongoing value in the tool and have used it to achieve the results that they seek, one might wonder, “what seems to be the problem?”
Some of the more intricate questions surrounding Myers-Briggs stem from concerns that neither it, nor the Jungian principles it was based on, have been validated statistically. Sharon Grimshaw, director of new product development with CPP, the company that owns the assessment, stresses that this is a fair question.
“There is a real merit in looking at the value of the psychometrics of an instrument and asking ‘does it measure what it needs to measure?’ One way to do this,” Grimshaw states, “is by taking other assessments and looking at how Myers-Briggs correlates when compared with those instruments.”
Having done a number of reliability and validity tests, CPP publishes a freely available, regularly updated Manual Supplement (www.cpp.com/MBTIvalidity) containing data on the internal consistency and test-retest reliability on the MBTI, best-fit type, and correlations with other personality assessments. Myers-Briggs does in fact correlate in line with other instruments, including the Birkman Method, the CPI 260 Assessment, and others. The data, while perhaps a bit complex for some, is no big secret. “The psychometrics have always been available,” Grimshaw points out.
Again, the goal of the MBTI is to provide self-insight. And just as one wouldn’t use a pair of pliers to drive a nail into a wall, improved understanding of the MBTI’s strengths and proper application is critical to not only more appropriate usage, but better user outcomes.
“If people used it more appropriately, they would see its value,” states Roselle, who frequently uses the MBTI, in conjunction with other instruments, to help individuals garner the insight they need for development and making career decisions, to help groups better understand themselves and each other in a team context, and more.
Grimshaw agrees with that perspective. “The process of self-verification is a part of how trained evaluators use the test,” she says. “Once you really understand the qualities, you can make more well-informed choices.”
T+D April 10 // Public Policy //
Reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act: Is There Hope?
By C. Michael Ferraro
The battle to reinstate the momentous legislation may be ongoing, but it certainly isn’t out of the question.
To help members and learning professionals stay current on activity at the U.S. federal level, ASTD tracks and reports on legislation and regulations that affect training and workforce development.
One of the largest pieces of legislation of interest to the field is the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the landmark legislation originally passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1998 to streamline and coordinate workforce training programs at the federal level. Although the bill has been introduced for reauthorization in the House and Senate by the last three Congresses, it has not passed.
While WIA reauthorization has not succeeded in recent years, there is a great deal of momentum behind it this year. ASTD is engaged in discussions with staff from the committees responsible for this legislation: the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and its Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety; and the House of Representatives’ Education and Labor Committee and its subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness.
In December, Representative Brett Guthrie (R-Kentucky), ranking member of the House subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness, introduced a WIA reauthorization bill. And at a recent hearing of the Education and Labor Committee during which Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis testified, reauthorization of the bill was raised several times.
ASTD continues to advocate for WIA reauthorization and suggests that several key points be considered in the legislation: streamline workforce investment boards so they are smaller, more flexible, and responsive to the needs of employers; ensure that training and workforce development programs are measured by comprehensive performance metrics; and ensure better coordination and collaboration with partners in the system to provide worker preparation and training services. In addition, ASTD will offer insight about e-learning since the original legislation was passed in 1998 as the field was beginning to see tremendous growth in technology-based training.
Updates on WIA reauthorization will be available quarterly in ASTD Links. Background on the workforce investment system may be found at www.doleta.gov. Click for additional information on ASTD’s public policy efforts.
T+D April 10 // Web 2.0 //
Connecting Government to Improve It
By Dean Smith
As the U.S. government steadily loosens restrictions on social media, some agencies are already benefitting from the next era of community and collaboration.
While social networking tools are increasingly enabling corporations to market and sell more effectively by getting closer to their global customer base, government agencies have embraced these technologies to share knowledge, drive informal learning, and establish communities of practice.
Terms such as “eGov,” “Gov2.0,” and “opengov” have entered the lexicon. While significant obstacles remain, it’s catching on.
“There is power in connecting people in government,” says Steve Ressler, founder of GovLoop, a social networking site for government with more than 25,000 members, 4,000 blogs, and 1,500 discussions. “It’s definitely a learning community.”
A recent survey conducted by the Human Capital Institute and Saba titled “Social Networking in Government: Opportunities & Challenges” reports that 66 percent of all government agencies currently use some form of social networking—from blogs and wikis to instant messaging and discussion boards to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
At the same time, 55 percent of all government workers say that they’re uncertain about the future use of social networking tools, but still see them as an effective means of real-time collaboration and have hopes for future application of the technologies in the workplace.
“The public sector managers I have worked with seem to have an intrigue-fear relationship with social networking tools and practices,” says Lisa Haneberg, author of High-Impact Middle Management: Solutions for Today’s Busy Public Sector Managers. “They are intrigued with the potential in these tools for relationship building, project management, and collaboration. They fear the learning curve involved in becoming efficient at using social networking and worry that it might end up being a waste of time.”
The case studies are piling up. The CIA uses Facebook to attract college students to apply for internships or jobs. As a way to share knowledge, build collaboration, and improve employee engagement in contrast, the Environmental Protection Agency created a Facebook network for employees to achieve better talent management. County and municipal governments are leading the way in leveraging digital options for the dual aims of improving customer service and reducing costs: 31 percent of those surveyed have embraced social media as a means of providing a more efficient customer feedback channel.
“The EPA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are pretty far advanced,” says Ressler. “They need to be active to prevent misinformation.”
The survey reports that social networking tools within governmental agencies are used most effectively for knowledge sharing and informal learning, as well as development functions. The top three most likely uses of social networking tools in government involve learning and development, public relations and communications, and recruitment. Despite the uptake of social media in government agencies, the government still lags behind the private sector in the overall use of these tools. The top three internal forces barring their widespread use are security concerns, other priorities, and difficulty in building a business case.
“Public sector leaders are learning about how for-profit organizations are using social networking and are interested in how these new technologies might help their teams succeed. Their process involves two types of learning,” said Haneberg. “They need to get comfortable with the tools and then translate how social networking will work in their often highly regimented and regulated environment.”
T+D April 10 // Leadership Trends //
By Aparna Nancherla
The effectiveness of senior leadership teams can affect employee satisfaction within an organization.
If a company executive makes a careless decision, just how far down the pipeline do the consequences travel? Probably farther than he would like to admit. Employees’ opinions of their jobs and their companies are clearly linked to the actions of their senior leaders, according to an annual survey of more than 20,000 employees conducted by Kenexa Research Institute (KRI).
The report shows that the current rating of global senior leadership effectiveness is 51 percent, or just more than half of employees.
“With confidence in leadership so inextricably tied to an employee’s engagement at work, this result is a likely leading indicator for high turnover rates once the economy improves, unless leaders take action to re-establish employee trust,” says Brenda Kowske, a research manager at KRI.
The individual countries with the highest senior leadership effectiveness ratings are India at 69 percent, Brazil at 59 percent, the United States at 54 percent, China at 53 percent, and Canada at 52 percent. The lowest rating belonged to Japan at 33 percent. Employee evaluations were based on the extent to which senior leaders maintain employee confidence through their decisions, actions, and communications; how well employees are informed about company direction; and whether senior leaders possess the capability to deal with the organization’s challenges.
Kowske notes that while most countries show similar scores, around 50 percent, India and Japan could be on opposite ends due to the element of growth. That is to say, India has experienced exponential growth within the past 10 years, while Japan’s economy has been shrinking. “Collectively, employees may be reporting based on a general societal sense of optimism or pessimism, respectively,” she says.
The survey showed that a strong organizational leadership team had a definite effect on the engagement levels of workers. In addition, employees who held a positive opinion of their leadership had a firmer intention to stay with their organizations compared with those who did not. They also had more confidence both in the organization’s future, as well as in their own future with the company.
“If leaders don’t have a firm grasp on how employees will enable success, then employees not only lose confidence in their leaders, but also start to question whether they should continue to invest their energy into the company,” says Kowske.
She elaborates that one of the most significant findings in the study was that employees’ ratings of their higher-ups were driven by elements of communication rather than leaders’ raw skills.
“These results demonstrate that it is not enough to make good decisions; employees need consistent reassurance and enough information to judge the wisdom of the leaders’ course of action for themselves,” she notes.
Looking toward the future and rebuilding after the economy picks up, leaders need to make the adjustment from “survival mode to a model of growth, and tangibly translate the switch into employees’ careers at the company,” according to Kowske. She adds that employees need to know that they will be taken care of down the road.
T+D April 10 // Fast Fact //
Up to the Challenge
There are 10 trends that will be creating a challenging environment for corporate leaders in the new decade, according to Healthy Companies International, a management consulting group in Arlington, Virginia.
The trends that will test the skills and competencies of all leaders include:
- Unpredictable market conditions will force CEOs to thrive in chaos.
- Reduced consumer confidence will compel executives to get back to basics and concentrate on execution of strategy.
- With the public angry at the “bonuses” that CEOs are getting in light of employee layoffs, chief executives will have to work hard to rebuild lost trust.
- Employees are no longer loyal to one organization, so CEOs must create sustainable organizations that have a culture of corporate social responsibility.
- With competition soaring in this ever-changing business environment, executives will need to focus on developing a strong customer and employee brand, while creating growth, innovation, and superior performance.
- With rising human capital costs, CEOs must understand and manage all facets of the organization, not just the costs.
- Confidence in leaders is at an all-time low, so executives must convincingly communicate the organization’s vision for the future.
- Media scrutiny is forcing executives to find win-win partnerships and stakeholder balance.
- The increase in social networking tools will compel CEOs to be globally literate and facile with the new rules of social media.
- The need to be greener will force executives to find new organizational strategies to help the environment.
T+D April 10 // Infograph //
The Stress of Re-entering the Workforce
According to a survey developed by OfficeTeam, organizations need to make a concerted effort to help new hires feel comfortable in their new surroundings before their first day on the job. The survey interviewed 464 workers 18 years or older who are employed in an office environment.