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Psychometrics spotlight: The Benchmarks Questionnaire

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In the latest of our series putting the range of psychometric tests under the spotlight we look at the Benchmarks questionnaire.



The further up the organisational hierarchy an individual progresses, the harder they can find it to receive honest feedback on their performance. This is however an essential aspect of individual development, particularly for business leaders, as it enables continual evaluation of their management style.

One way of attaining this communication is through the use of 360o feedback. This enables managers to compare their self-perceptions with those of their peers, subordinates, and superiors. Through this they can gain insight into themselves, their impact on others, and how others see their behaviour in the context of the organisation’s culture.

This theory forms the framework of the Benchmarks® questionnaire, a 360o feedback instrument. It is designed for use with middle and senior managers and provides valuable insights into the dynamics of management development, enabling a comparison between individual skills and organisational needs and strategy. The questionnaire is based on research by the USA-based Center for Creative Leadership® (CCL), into how managers learn and grow on the job.

The Benchmarks questionnaire looks specifically at those areas directly linked to leadership effectiveness. It provides feedback on the experience that managers have so far gained and how this is reflected in their leadership behaviour, and establishes specific work experiences that can be developed to increase managerial success. The questionnaire is developed around the following two premises:

1) That there are key skills and perspectives that are important for managerial success. These include:

  • Decisiveness

  • Resourcefulness

  • Change management

2) That there are certain factors that can cause otherwise successful managers to plateau in their careers or to not fulfil their expected potential. These include:

  • Difficulty building and leading a team

  • Failure to meet business objectives

The 360 degree feedback provided on the Benchmarks questionnaire assesses the manager against both sets of factors. Their resulting profile is then compared to those of successful managers within international companies. This enables the individual leader to gain an accurate external benchmark of their current strengths, any areas that could become potential stalling points, and how they can direct their future development.

A great asset of the Benchmarks questionnaire is its thorough and comprehensive research. It has recently been updated, following more than two years of research, so that it can more closely reflect leadership during the 21st century.

The Benchmarks questionnaire is not a psychometric measure, as it does not measure basic skills, job knowledge or intellectual ability but rather it reflects the perceptions of others. It is therefore not appropriate for use in selection and should be used purely within a developmental context.

However, whereas personality questionnaires can be limited by the individual’s degree of self-awareness, the comparison of self-perceptions with those of others, as offered by 360 degree feedback, offers great potential to increase individual self-awareness.

For example, a manager who believes they are an influential leader but receives feedback that they are seen as unapproachable will want to investigate this further. This can lead to a greater ability for the individual to make more effective choices about behaviour and working styles that will deliver better results.

The Benchmarks instrument also focuses only on those skills that can be learned, making it a very proactive development tool. Its insights can be amalgamated into a personal development plan, which the manager can then pursue either individually or with an executive coach.

The Benchmarks questionnaire is not appropriate for use below middle management level. However, there is a very similar questionnaire called SKILLSCOPE®, also created by CCL, which is a 360 degree feedback instrument designed for use with junior managers. This measures individuals against skills that are proven to be critical to management effectiveness in the workplace.

For further information, please contact OPP on 08708 728727 or visit the website at www.opp.eu.com

More articles in this series:

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Annie Hayes

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