Develop Employees, In-Depth Proof
Simmons Personal Survey Validity Study
Conducted by CSR American Aggregates
Date: November, 1995
CSR/American Aggregates is a subsidiary of Australian based Consolidated Sugar Refineries. With 1100 employees located in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Ohio, they produce stone for the concrete, asphalt, and construction industries.
The company has been using the Simmons Personal Survey on a regular basis for hiring supervisory personnel and have been very pleased with the quality of employee the Survey is helping them to obtain. They have also been using the tool to help their leaders make the personal changes necessary to successfully practice the new team management style that the company has put in place.
At the present time, they have begun an in-house study to statistically verify the accuracy, validity, and usefulness that they have seen in the Simmons Personal Survey. While the total process will include over a hundred employees, one part of their study is described below.
1. The Simmons Personal Survey was processed on five job candidates. Steve Fleming, a Human Resource Executive within the company, scored and ranked the candidates from 1 to 10 on several critical job success factors, based entirely on his evaluation of their Simmons Profile. Throughout the applicant rating and ranking process, Steve had no other knowledge about the applicants.
2. Five highly-skilled, well-trained interviewers from American Aggregates interviewed each of the five candidates. Their in-depth process included meeting with the applicant at their current place of work and talking with people who worked with them. From their testing and interviews, each interviewer individually scored the applicants on the critical success factors for the job and placed them in rank order from 1 to 10. Throughout the interviewing and ranking process, the interviewers had no knowledge of the Survey rankings.
Results. Steve Fleming reports:
"My interpretation of the Simmons was precisely in line with all five interviewers in scoring success factors and in rank order. That's tremendous credibility! We are seeing that this tool is so powerful."
"We are finding so many other uses for the Survey that go beyond the selection process. We are using the Simmons as a tool for both individual and company success. We use the Simmons to answer questions in three critical areas: Can the person do the job? Will the person do the job? Will the person fit on the team? We're going to perform a Simmons on every person in a supervisory capacity."
This story about American Aggregates is a powerful demonstration of the Survey's remarkable accuracy. This accuracy is helping them to choose the best persons to fit the job. It is also becoming the tool for encouraging the growth and development of their current employees.
American Aggregates uses the Survey: To hire employees best-suited for participatory management.
To assist current employees in making the personal changes necessary to succeed in the team structure.
To reduce an extremely high turnover rate.
Companies around the world are struggling to find their way in today's changing economic environment. While Total Quality Management has been highly promoted as the path to financial survival in the future, it requires huge culture changes within the company. Steve Fleming, of CSR/American Aggregates, reports: "Serious paradigm shifts are necessary to make TQM successful. We feel the Simmons Personal Survey is the tool that can help us do that."
An accurate assessment of the problem resulted in an individual turnaround and tremendous cost savings by Keith Floto
“When we bought an existing franchise, the previous owner strongly recommended that we fire or demote the current area supervisor. ‘She’s not going to be able to handle it,’ they said. ‘she’s got a negative attitude, not a team player.’
The Survey showed a very high Self Esteem score, a somewhat low commitment to work and low tolerance. But it also showed good people skills and a positive attitude. They had misidentified the problem. While sharing the Survey results with her we learned that she had experienced a deep hurt in her life. She wasn’t aware how much it was affecting her on the job until she saw her Survey. We sat down with her and put together a development plan. Within weeks there was a marked improvement and she is still doing an excellent job with the company.
Talk about cutting turnover costs! It would have been very expensive to loose her 10 years of training and experience. We would have lost an excellent manager with a lot of great strengths if we had fired her on their recommendation. We were able to work with her on the problems she did have, and it not only turned out super, but it added a lot of validity to the Survey.”
Session with a New Orleans Saints football player. by Dave Michiels, Ph.D.
A new football recruit we’ll call Scott came to the meeting with a very hesitant, questioning attitude. He didn’t see how Dave could tell him anything really important just from checking “a bunch of words on a test.” He was sure it was just going to be a waste of time.
In the next half hour, Dave related some of the young man’s significant strengths along with a few negative areas that were pulling him down. Scott began to show more interest. Then Dave asked him what kind of problems he was having in a relationship.
“What makes you think I’m having any problems with a relationship,” Scott asked?
“I believe your Survey shows that you are,” Dave replied.
“Well, yes, I am,” he admitted and began to relate the situation with his wife. She was constantly tearing him down. It was a continual struggle to stay motivated in the face of this ongoing criticism and attack. He had begun to believe she must be right and was beginning to doubt his own abilities. The resulting guilt and self-condemnation were weighing him down, leaving him drained.
Dave helped him see that her behavior stemmed from previous hurtful relationships in her life. He used the Survey to help Scott recognize that the strengths he had lost confidence in were real. Yes, there were some problem areas too, but with them clearly defined and put in perspective, he saw could begin taking steps to overcome them.
Scott sat back with his head in his hands. He looked up with tears in his eyes and said, “You know, I’ve been praying for 3 months for God to give me an answer to this and now I have it.” The very Survey Scott had wanted to avoid had given him insight into who he really was. It had provided a realistic basis to begin to feel good about himself again. He left with renewed hope and confidence that he really could do what he had always dreamed of doing.
In the beginning you may be telling them things that they figure you may have found out from someone else. Then as you get more into it they ask, “How do you know this? You didn’t find this out from a test, just me marking some words.”
Most of them begin by looking for a way NOT to believe the Survey, but it’s so real that they have no option but to accept it.
Tom Howard, V. P. Human Resources, Wang's
International, Inc. Memphis, TN
"100% of the Surveys we have processed have been accurate and were verified by other reliable information. The Survey has consistently helped us hire good employees, reduce turnover, greatly enhance performance, and increase customer satisfaction."
Character Measurement Produced Tremendous Turnover Reduction. Pat Sumpter, Management Consultant
I began using the Survey in 1990 as store manager for a supermarket chain. I was the strongest “nae-sayer” of all in the beginning. I thought tests were hogwash, just a waste of time and money.
We started out by doing Surveys on all existing management. When Wes Crane went over the results of my own Survey I was amazed. “How could you possibly know that from a test,” I asked. I could see the value of knowing that much about an applicant before we hired him and I was sold on it!
Now I see that the Simmons Survey is not really a test, but rather a remarkably clear picture of who you are at the time.
We totally integrated the Simmons Personal Survey into our Human Resource procedures, using it specifically at three levels.
1. Hiring: After job applicants were narrowed down to three, all were given the Survey. We used it for every position, from entry level throughout management.
Since we originally began by giving the Survey to all of our existing management, we could see how the Survey scores related to success in our stores. We knew what we were looking for in an applicant, and could choose the one who would fit best.
2. Promotion: We used the Survey to help us know which employees were really ready for promotion.
The Survey showed us if they had good emotional energy, commitment to work, and attention to detail. Then we looked to see if their tolerance and consideration for others was balanced with the appropriate decisiveness and assertiveness to be a manager.
We promoted the best candidate, but the benefits of using the Survey went far beyond that. Each candidate had the opportunity to discuss their Survey with us. Often those who had not been promoted would say, “I really want to move up into management. What is it that’s holding me back?” We would go over their Survey, showing them specific areas that they could work on.
Providing this assistance in their development proved to be extremely cost effective. Before long we were promoting entirely from within.
3. Department Manager Annual Review: Each year the Department Managers took the Simmons Survey and compared it to their results from the previous year. In a meeting with the Store Manager, they would review and acknowledge the improvements they had made. The employee had the opportunity to make suggestions about what they thought needed improvement, then the Store Manager made his suggestions. Together they developed specific goals for the next year.
This development process has double benefits of reducing turnover and increasing effectiveness.
Within 18 months, the Survey was the key to reducing turnover from a crippling 172% to a manageable 70%. When we began, the cost of hiring and training an entry level worker in the supermarket industry was $1000 each. Management costs rise exponentially from that.
A bad hire became successful career guidance. by Wes Crane
We’ve done Team building also in churches where there is an existing staff, where things aren't clicking the way they should be.
Recently, we did a Survey in a church that was having some personnel difficulties. They had recently hired a children's pastor who was not succeeding in that particular job. Based upon what we saw in his Survey, (very high assertiveness, lower tolerance, lower consideration, high desire for change) this children's pastor was not pastoral at all but was probably a very good evangelist.
When we gave the results to the individual, he told me that when he saw who he really was, he felt like a weight had been taken off his shoulders. He had been trying to perform in a job that wasn't him. He had to be an empathetic youth leader instead of a strong evangelist. Trying to be a square peg in a round hole had put a tremendous pressure on him.
As I talked with him, he said, "I think the church made a mistake in hiring me, and I think I made a mistake in coming to work here. Now, what can the Survey show that I should be doing?" We gave him the results and showed him where his strengths were and six months later he is successful as an evangelist.
This especially confirms the Survey’s ability to predict job related behavior. I had warned them 18 months before, not to hire this individual.
They had seen this man in action as dynamic and charismatic, and they thought, “Oh this guy is so good, this is just what our young people need.” It was just the opposite of what they needed, especially because the previous youth minister had been a real shepherd. But this guy didn't have an ounce of empathy or pastor in him.
Several of the members of the hiring committee felt very strongly about hiring him and the others were very soft, not decisive type people. I all but jumped up and down and screamed and told them don't do it, but they did it anyway. They chose to go ahead with the hire and not face the conflict. As a result, they had 18 months of misery until we were able to help them do an outplacement.
There are people who see tests as weeding people out. They see it as a negative, that this person didn't get the job because of a test and that wasn't fair. And yet, this example shows that people can get jobs that are not good for them and be miserable.
This is an example of career pathing, helping people find they're in the wrong place, and finding the right place.
The Survey gives permission for the square peg to get out of the round hole he had been forced into and find where he belonged:
I was working with an Advisory Council made up of people from various business backgrounds. When I went in to Survey them for team building, one gentlemen came in, sat down and looked me right in the eye and said, "Can that thing tell me whether I should be an engineer or not?" I looked back across the table and said, "Well, give me a minute."
I looked at the Survey for a couple of minutes, turned back to him, looked him eyeball to eyeball and said to him, "The Survey shows you should probably never be an engineer."
He jumped off his chair and said, "Wow! Now I can tell my wife." This fellow had been an engineer for 10 years, was not happy, was not being highly successful, and thought he was about to be fired. He said that he had been forced into engineering by his dad who put him through school. For 10 years he had hated every minute of it. The Survey gave him permission to seek something else.
The chairman called me some months later and said, "Remember that engineer you gave the Survey results to? He and another guy just opened a landscape business and he is the happiest person in the world today."
What we measured on the Survey gave him permission not to be an engineer any longer. With great relief, he accepted that information, went out and did something that was very suited to his profile and became a very happy camper.
At a weekend retreat for a retail company, I was giving Survey evaluations to the management team. One of the Survey’s happened to be on the vice president’s own son. The young man had come aboard the management team about six months before and was really struggling. When it was time to give his results I asked if I could meet privately with him and then bring the vice president into the conversation.
The young man was experiencing severe depression. He was having trouble coping and every day was a battle for him. Every day it was a matter of just trying to get through the day. We found through the Survey that he had become a master at deception and manipulation to fool people in order to get through.
After an almost tearful conversation at one point, he settled on some goals. At the end of the session, we had set some things in motion for this young man.
At that point in time, we separated. We were at a retreat session and it was interesting that during the night the father heard the young son in tears. The father asked how it was going and the young man said, I’ve just been given a new road map for the rest of my life. I realize I don't have to live this way any more.
It was probably tears of joy as well as having somebody recognize that he was having a struggle and was able to give him some good help. He got other help after this but he was able to use the Survey to begin. What basically was just a training session ended up turning this young man's life totally around. The young man went is doing well in another industry right now.We look at that as one of the very nice helps of the Survey. We don't try to get into people's personal lives but sometimes that just happens.
Doug Haile, Human Recource Manager
O’Sullivan Industries, Lamar, MO
We’ve used the Survey for hiring, training, promotion and team building for over 15 years.
The Survey shows us employee attitudes that affect their ability to use their job skills. For instance, our draftsmen need to have the ability to sit at the desk, stay at the task and do repetitive types of work.
We might hire someone who has all the right technical skills, but they’re a little different type of individual. Well, that’s OK, we can work with that, as long as we know that going in.
Case Study by Doug Jones
Realistic and accurate evaluation of personnel
COMPANY - A family owned grocery wholesale company in the mid south. Annual sales ($150 million).
This company also operated about 10 company stores, as well as servicing mountain stores, both large and small.
The grocery company was one of my first clients when starting my consulting business in the mid 1980’s. I knew the owners from previous relationships. My assignment was to begin to reorganize and upgrade management for more improved store profitability and image.
A part of the process was to complete Surveys on all key store personnel. We were able to accomplish a number of things as a result of this new insight.
(1) We learned that the personnel was not as bad as management had suspected, though not all superstars.
(2) Most of the poor performance was due to poor training and communications, correctable conditions
There were a number of “rough gems” in the group, that later went on to become very effective managers and even higher.
Personal Growth and Development
One particular individual stood out in my mind and was a source of some satisfaction for me personally. Matt (not his name) was an assistant manager, actually, a glorified stock boy. When we tested Matt, he showed up as having a relatively moderate emotional energy level, basically a team member, not a leader at all. He was not identified as someone to watch for future promotion.
About a year later, I began to get feedback that Matt had made a terrific turnabout, had become a dynamic force in his store, often surpassing and outperforming his store manager. Though somewhat skeptical at the seeming “transformation”, I agreed to re-test Matt to see if, in fact, he had actually achieved personal growth.
The results were shocking and undeniable. Matt had shown significant personal growth in all areas of character that would be associated with an effective leader. Based on his actual performance and Survey results, I recommended his promotion to manager.
While at his store one day, I asked Matt what or who had been responsible for his turn-a-round. His reply was that I was responsible. Though flattered, I asked that he be more specific.
Matt basically said that when he saw his original Survey results, he was not happy with the individual I had identified him to be and he wanted to make a change. He took charge of his own personal growth*, made a conscious decision to accept the risks associated with leadership and grow as a person.
Matt continues to be one of the top managers in the group at this writing.
Case Study by Doug Jones
COMPANY - A group of smaller, neighborhood grocery stores in a large metropolitan area in the mid-west. Annual sales $10 million, 5 units.
I completed a leadership study on all key personnel using the Survey. Actually, I completed a number of different tasks for this company (fictitious name Sonny’s Markets).
One of the individuals Surveyed was a young meat manager (Frank). Frank had worked his way up from apprentice and liked his work. The Survey suggested an individual who was having some difficulty with something or someone in his past or present. There was definitely a stress related problem, but he was in denial about it.
I suggested a number of scenarios that might cause this problem, i.e. divorce, death of a family member, fear of losing a job, and others. He strongly protested that there was absolutely no validity to this part of the Survey and I had made a mistake in the interpretation.
About a week later Frank called me at the office to ask for a meeting which I promptly set-up. At the meeting, he expressed his thanks for my taking the time to explain all the information brought out in the Survey and my thoughtful presentation to him.
He confessed that, in fact, there was a situation in his life that was causing great personal stress and discomfort. His father, whom he worshipped, was seen going into the home of a neighbor, a woman not his mother. The father subsequently left home and divorced his mother. This event had been so devastating to Frank that even though it had happened about 10 years previous, it was still having a serious negative impact on his life and ability to work effectively and freely.
With this information at hand, he was able to begin to put the past behind him and reduce the stress of the burden he had been carrying. He became a happier, more dedicated and productive employee.
(Notes: Personal problems can and do affect a person’s behavior and productivity on the job. The Survey can hold a mirror up to the person and let them see how it’s really affecting them. It gives them the choice of what to do about it.)
A company can provide this assistance to employees without meddling in their personal problems. (The consultant’s confidentiality can be an important factor.) The expense of the Survey and consultant is minor in comparison to the increased productivity over the years with an employee.
Case Study by Doug Jones
This may not be classified as a case study, but it is an example of what power the Survey has to change lives. This story is about me - Doug Jones. SMS Associate.
My first introduction to the Simmons Company, the Survey and Jack Simmons was about ten years ago. The initial Survey result was “disastrous” in my opinion. It described an individual so out of control I was afraid the company would not let me become an associate. My scores were off the graph. I swear that to this day, they began to include 1’s and 7’s on the Survey because of profiles like mine...in the beginning.
To make a long story short, Jack and the staff at Simmons began to help show me how I could not only help others, but the “doctor” could also use some of the same medicine on himself. As time went on, my profile began to move toward the middle range, at least, be on the page.
Being able to understand who we are makes us much more effective in dealing with others.
I will never forget Jack [Simmons] saying that “we are the person we have chosen to be...but, that’s OK.
To this day I am a recovering “aggressaholic”. I don’t blow doors off hinges anymore. I actually stop and open the door first. The old Doug would run over you and not utter a word. The new model Doug may still run over you...from time to time, but now he will go back, pick you up, brush you off and apologize.
I guess you could call that growth. I am still trying to grow and it is still a struggle.
Patty Camps, General Manager
Metal Products, Memphis, TN
Manufacturing distributor of warehouse storage equipment and material handling equipment, Div. of E.H.S. (Ann Tisdale, Sales Manager also uses the Survey with Sales)
After an employee has been on the job for three months, completed training and had a chance to settle in, their manager will review their Simmons Survey.
We’re aware that this is a snapshot of them at this point in their life. It’s not engraved in stone. People can and do change. We use it as an indicator of where the employee is now compared to where they need to be for their position. The Survey is a tool to guide us; to help us plan what we need to do to help them get there.
Doug Haile, Human Recource Manager
O’Sullivan Industries, Lamar, MO
We’ve used the Survey for hiring, training, promotion and team building for over 15 years.
It’s been most important to us as a management tool for training. I’ll sit down with the employee’s manager show them, “Now this is where he might have some difficulties and this is how you can help them.
For instance, if an employee has very aggressive type behavior and his manager doesn’t. We’ll suggest to the manager, “You’ll have to stay on top of this because, this person will run over you if you’re not careful.” If they go into it aware of that, then normally they can handle it with no problem.
Team Building by Wes Crane
We have worked with several companies in team building.
One of the most interesting areas of team building has been working with churches in pastoral searchs. We have been able to go in and work with a team of people who were trying to put together a church for growth. They were trying to find the right person in relation to a whole range of criteria including, of course, the doctrines of the church, the long term tenure of the previous pastor, members of the board and the mix of the other pastors on staff.
We went into a board meeting where we gave Survey results of 4 candidates. We had not discussed the candidate that we had chosen ahead of time with the board. With the results from their own interviewing process, they had picked the very same candidate. And between the two, of course we were able to make the hire on this particular individual.
What was interesting was that during the interview process when I was being quizzed about the candidate through the use of the Survey, I made a statement about a particular trait of the person's character. There was a hush that came over the room and one of guy's kind of gasped, he said, "Those were the same words the candidate used when he was describing himself." Here was a great validation for me and of course it validated the Survey to this board more than probably any single thing we had done.
From there we were able to explain some of the character traits that they would need to look at in the board as a group, in the other pastors, together with the new pastor coming in, in order for them to best work together as a team for the church.
They made the right choice a year ago. I have been back to the church since and it's going great. The Survey basically validated that they had made the right choice and got them off to a good start working together.
Case Study by Doug Jones
Company - A mid-sized family owned dairy and Convenience Store firm in the midwest. Annual sales estimate $50 million.
I was called in to work with this firm (further referred to as Brown Dairy) as a result of a seminar I gave at a grocer’s training symposium (Columbus, Ohio) in the late 1980’s. The topic of the seminar was Developing Leaders. The general manager of a convenience store group (about 15 stores) tried the Survey, liked it so much he asked me to complete a leadership study of his key people using individual interviews and the Survey.
Results of this study were the realignment of several office and supervisory store personnel job duties, movement of two key personnel to different positions. The general manager was so impressed with the results he achieved through gaining extra insight in hiring and developing leader type individuals, he recommended the Survey to his boss, the president of Brown Dairy. The company produced milk, milk by-products and ice cream.
Now, the rest of the story ......The Brown Dairy president was an individual in his early forties, highly educated, and the third generation as head of the family business. For sake of this case, let’s call him Fred. A leadership study using the Survey was completed on the top 13 members of the key management team.
Within this team were a variety of individuals who had varying lengths of time with the company and different backgrounds. The company had just purchased a small gourmet ice cream manufacturing company and was in the process of assimilating those employees into the total company organization.
The Survey was instrumental in the development of a variation in the old organizational chart, blending key players from the new ice cream company (entrepreneurs) and a group of old line company dairy people. The Survey results and subsequent interviews led to a course of action which resulted in the reorganization and retirement of several older employees and made way for some new ideas, new people to energize the company. Some new positions were created, including a personnel manager.
This should be the wrap-up of a successful and long lasting relationship, but, it was not to be. The Survey results of the president exposed a man with so poorly developed character that it was impossible for him to accept the results of his own Survey. He readily admitted we had correctly identified every other participant, but, that the Survey was just wrong in his case.
Unfortunately, the Survey was right on target. Many of the key personnel surveyed had “eluded” to Fred’s character problem and hoped I could find a way to help. It seems that Fred was trying to live in the shadows of his dynamic father, the former president and driving force of the company’s recent success. Fred did not possess the leader qualities to take on this job or walk in his father’s shoes. This fact caused much stress for Fred (confirmed by the Survey) thus making it virtually impossible for him to perform in a highly effective manner.
The company, in fact, ran somewhat smoothly through the combined efforts of a loyal team that recognized Fred’s deficiencies, but allowed them to be covered up by the staff’s excellent performance. The “ship” however, was basically on auto pilot, lacking the ability to make dynamic moves.
A number of organizational recommendations were made and accepted by the president, by and large, since they did not require that he do anything different himself or face up to the fact that “he was the person he had chosen to be”.
The moral to this story was that the Survey did reveal some of the most personal attributes, both good and bad an individual might have. Is it how that individual accepts them and tries to grow as a person that matters.
The Survey’s tremendous value has been in selection and team building. The restaurant business traditionally has an incredibly high turnover rate industry-wide. The Survey really pin-pointed those characteristics important for success.
Keith Floto was a Human Resource consultant for a large Wendy’s franchise. Their 57 stores were experiencing a turnover rate of 50 to 100% in management.
The Survey was used not so much to eliminate a person from the hire, but to enabled us to put together a development plan for them. From the Survey, we could tell his training manager, “These are the things you’re going to see in their work. This is how you can help them grow.” The trainee and his supervisor were then working together towards the same goals.
Developing better managers meant they stayed longer, were more effective and felt better about their jobs. The bottom line was we not only lowered our expenses by reducing turnover, we also increased sales with better trained managers.
The results of a six month pilot study completely validated the importance of using the Survey for Team Building.
Forty stores were divided into two groups, with careful attention to balance in all market factors. Group One followed the franchise’s well established training procedures, without using the Survey.
All managers and trainees in Group Two were given the Simmons Personal Survey at the beginning of the study. Each one had the opportunity to go over his Survey evaluation with his supervisor and work up a personal development plan. A follow-up Survey was done three months later with improvements recognized and development plans reviewed.
After six months, stores using the Simmons Survey for team building had improved significantly more than the other stores in all three areas tracked: 1.) Sales Increase up 10%; 2.) Quality Service And Cleanliness Inspection improved; 3.) Crew Turnover Rate reduced. Overall profitability had improved as well.
Floto tells us, “Some people are intimidated by taking tests in general and by the Survey in particular initially, because it is so accurate. But once they understand how it is used to help them, they realize there’s no risk to taking it. The Survey really helped the supervisor build team work, with everyone drawing off each others strengths and supporting them in the areas they need to work on. As an employer, we saw we had to have it.”
In one bank that we used it with the entire management team. It was very effective in pulling people together, talking about their lesser strengths. By allowing the Survey to identify them, we were able to confront some interpersonal relationships that were deteriorating and effectively mend those relationships.
The Survey was very valuable in working with 7 people on the team together. The inflexible member mention before could not be brought around. It resulted in better team work with more interpersonal co-operation between departments. Several senior managers were able to acknowledge their problems. They took the attitude of “I can work on that,” which allowed them to resolve specific problems.
One member of the team was an executive vice president who was hesitant to follow through with difficult decisions. He very capably made policy decisions but then wouldn’t stick to his guns, wouldn’t carry them out. He wanted to be liked by everyone and had a very difficult time in taking a firm stance when it was required. With the Survey test data to support what was actually taking place, other team members had the courage to step forward and say, “Yes, this is our observation too, and it’s causing us serious problems.”
As we talked to him, he began to recognize that this was a pattern in his life that he could change. He was able to become more aware of when this was occurring and was willing to deal with it. The Survey helped him to break out of immobility, make a decision and take positive action.
I had also administered the Simmons Personal Survey in the course of my assessment. I have used the Simmons Survey for years now. First of all, it helps break through denial. It is tempting for some managers I work with to discount my findings as shaped by my own prejudices or biased by the manner in which I ask my questions.
The Survey, though, is a result of how the participants describe themselves and how their own answers compare with norm groups of other people in similar positions. When their own description of themselves produces a profile consistent with what the staff told me, it is a powerful source of evidence for confirming and adding weight to the interview results. The Survey helps the participant take responsibility for what I found in the assessment interviews. My interview findings discover problems. The Survey is a way of discovering aspects of the manager's own character that may be at work in creating those problems.
I have come to put a great degree of trust in the Survey findings. By the time I meet with individuals for feedback and planning sessions, I have come to know them well. I will have spent hours talking to people who work with and for them, hearing detailed descriptions of their strengths and weaknesses. It is almost as if I have been doing my own internal validation study. I gather huge amounts of interview data, then sit down and review the Simmons Survey results. Over and over again, I have seen Surveys that are consistent with my interview findings. When I review the Surveys with the participant's own managers, they, too, confirm the Survey's validity.
Mike and I reviewed the results of his Survey to discover what his results might tell us about how his character was contributing to the problem. The Survey was absolutely consistent with my interview findings. His Assertiveness score was extremely high, consistent with someone who wants things his terms now, who would order and demand rather than ask or persuade. His extremely low Tolerance score was consistent with anger when his needs weren't met. The level of his score on this scale was predictive of someone who would be highly critical of others, vindictive, and have a very short fuse in dealing with staff who weren't able to live up to his expectations. A low Considerate score added evidence that he was the kind of person who would focus primarily on his own needs without giving much thought to the impact he was having on people around him. Add to that a very low Optimism score (The glass is not only half empty, it's dirty, too!), suggesting extreme pessimism, fault-finding, and a tendency to blame others for things that weren't working in his life.
But there were strengths in this Survey report as well. His Courage score was very high, suggesting an abundance of self-confidence and a willingness to take risks. While there is a potential downside to this aspect of his character, he is in a extraordinarily demanding industry. His score suggested that he performs at his best when challenged and he is in a job where high levels of urgency are the order of the day and, like a race horse when the gates open, Mike is always ready to rise to the occasion. His Sociability score was ideal for someone in an executive position. In fact, his customer relationships were very healthy. People like him, provided they don't have to work for him. His Direction score was ideal for his position, suggesting that he had no problems making decisions and making things happen. In combination with his challenge orientation to life, his customers could count on him to do whatever it took to continually rise to the occasion time after time. (Of course, his staff were the ones who were paying the price for his success in the field. He was driving them relentlessly, without so much as a thought about the impact he was having for his treatment of them.)
I gave Mike one week to think about our conversation and arrive at some decisions about what he wanted to do about some of the concerns expressed by his staff and the character traits suggested by his Survey report. I left the meeting feeling cautiously optimistic that he had let the message in and that he seemed to be genuinely concerned about what his staff, through me, had to say about him.
His first words to me a week later were, "I want you to know that I was stunned by our conversation. I have thought about nothing else for the last week. I had already planned to take some time off and I found that whatever I was doing, I was thinking about our conversation. My wife and I had a long talk and she finally opened up to me and confirmed a lot of your findings. I really had no idea that things had gotten so bad. I always thought I was the kind of manager who was open to hearing about things and I thought they would let me know if there was something that they were unhappy about. But I guess if you work for the kind of person you described last week, it would be hard to go into your bosses office and talk about it. Let's get to work. I want to turn this around."
We then proceeded to do some personal vision work and created an action plan to address some of the issues that surfaced in the interviews and in his Survey. I was touched by one of the items he put on his to-do list. He made a list of people he felt he needed to apologize to individually. He also called a staff meeting to talk about what he had learned and to express his commitment to being the best manager they had ever had.
Its been two years now and, while he is still prone to slip back into some of the old behaviors when under extreme pressure, his boss and his staff have been grateful to see a genuine commitment to improve his relationships as work and have seen some substantial changes in his approach to them. Mike is still in his position, accomplishing more than he ever has before, and, more importantly, his level of esteem has risen throughout the company as he becomes more and more skillful at dealing with people appropriately. A prediction: Within ten years, he will be the President of the company because he has had the courage and the commitment to deal with the flaws in his character.
My own Survey: The Creation of a Turning Point. by Bob Wall
I learned about my own blind spots through my own experience with the Simmons Personal Survey. First of all, I want you to know that I am a hard sell when it comes to any kind of assessment tool. I went to a graduate school in clinical psychology that was highly critical of psychological assessment devices and made me very wary of using any instrument in my consulting work. Finally, in the midst of a personal crisis of my own a number of years ago, I consented to take the Survey from Wes Crane, a colleague and friend of mine in Seattle who has been using the Survey for years. I had never told him so but I thought his faith in the tool was a bit overwrought. But, with great skepticism, I completed the Survey.
I must tell you that my Survey results created a crisis for me. It described someone I certainly would not want to work with. If this person worked for me, I would fire him. I would certainly never hire him. I was initially tempted to dismiss the results as completely off the mark but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the Survey was telling me things that I had to be responsible for.
There were some aspects of the Survey report that I argued with Wes about. My results suggested that I valued smooth, conflict-free relationships to the extent that I would sell out on my own personal standards to keep the peace. I knew this couldn't be true. "After all, Wes, I am an expert in conflict management. I have trained people all over the country in conflict management strategies. I have written about it. This simply can't be accurate." Rather than try to convince me it was true, Wes wisely asked me to just observe myself for a while.
Within a month, I had a client miss an appointment on a day that I already had a great deal of writing to do. Getting dressed up and fighting the traffic to and from his office easily cost me a couple of hours. It was a real inconvenience and a waste of my time. I was more than a little bit irritated.
The next week when my client and I got together, he started to apologize and explain that he had forgotten to put our appointment in his calendar. Then I heard these words going through my mind: "Oh, its okay. These things happen. It was no big deal." I will never forget having a moment of realization. "Is this what I do? It wasn't okay with me that he missed the appointment and I'm sitting here about to minimize the situation and smooth it over rather than speak my mind." So rather than gloss over the event, I told my client that I was there on time and he wasn't and that I was going to bill him for an hour of my time. He was just fine with that and we got down to the business at hand.
If I didn't discover anything else from taking the Survey (and there actually was much more), that one awareness has had a huge impact on my life. It was true. I did have the skills to deal with conflict but I began to discover that, much like the Survey predicted, there were times that I would minimize and justify rather than use the tools that I was giving to other people. And all of this was happening without any conscious awareness on my part - driven by character and force of habit. I could look back and see a pattern of not getting what I wanted in my life and being resentful about it but not being aware that I was the source of the problem. I wasn't standing up for myself and asking for what I wanted.
After this experience with my client, I began to catch myself in the act. Now, whenever I hear myself starting to minimize something, I will say to myself, "There I go again. Is this really okay with me or am I about to wimp out again?" More often than not, I begin to take a deep breath and state what is really on my mind. Sure, sometimes I still play the role of a wimp but at least when I do it now, its a conscious choice rather than me functioning on automatic pilot, driven by a character that doesn't like conflict and wants everyone to feel okay.
This awareness proved to be a turning point in my life. Rather than hoping people will read my mind, I have learned to make sure that I take responsibility for expressing my needs. My relationships have improved. My business has thrived. All because I was willing to take responsibility for the results of my Survey.
Bring Career Failures to a Halt and Open a New Door: John Beane, Human Resource Consultant
A Human Resource Manager was having problems with a young man working for her in the sales department. She said “I've really got to decide what to do with this guy and I'm really looking forward to getting the Simmons Survey.”
Well, on his Survey I quickly recognized that this person did not have a sales profile whatsoever. He came closer to a customer service representative, but not a salesperson at all. I included a recommendation that she should let him go because he just was not cut out to do sales.
When she was counseling him at his termination, she said, "You know, I just really don't think you're cut out for sales." He responded, "I've about come to that same conclusion." It turned out that this gentlemen had been fired from every sales job he has ever had. He had considered looking for a different venue of work and the Survey confirmed the decision for him.
Anthony Dagastino, District Manager
Wenco Franchise Management Inc., Memphis, TN
The Survey is valuable because it allows us to accurately predict individual performance issues, like their commitment to work, tolerance, etc.
The Survey helps the person understand why they do what they do, which is the only way they can improve. It becomes the basis for their training.
Ongoing Personal Development
Positive Response To “Bad” News. The other day I Surveyed a young man that the Survey showed to be very depressed. He was 23 years old, going to school and working part-time but everyday was a struggle. He was doing poorly in school and was not doing very well on his job either. The guy was extremely depressed but didn't know that's what he had. He just thought that he was not a good person. We were able to show him why he had been feeling bad for so long.