One of our consultant clients was asked to provide advice for a medium sized organisation that was experiencing a drop in productivity.

He was told that there had been no changes in the systems the company was operating and technically there was no apparent reason for the under-performing unit. A new general manager had however been appointed replacing the GM who had retired at the end of last year after some thirty years at the helm. The newly appointed GM came with an excellent reputation and was well known in the industry.

Often change in some policies follow management change and there was some indication of resistance to some of the new management policies implemented by the new general manager. However he couldn’t pinpoint any specific issues that he considered would impact on the performance of his team members.

So he decided to consult our reseller who had, in the past, provided HR advice to the company from time to time. The consultant’s instructions were to report back to the GM with any issues he thought could be of importance from an HR perspective. To the GM, this was just simply one of the boxes he had to tick in his search for the reasons for the drop in productivity. The consultant used a two pronged approach. He arranged for each of the staff to complete an Open 360 Report which he designed via the FinxS online assessment system in conjunction with Extended DISC® Assessment Australasia and followed this up with a FinxS designed and focused Behavioural Style Report from each of the 75 employees.

The Open 360 Assessment Reports did identify a resistance to some of the new policies being implemented, but were far from conclusive. Several of the reports obtained were critical of the new GM’s approach, but there wasn’t any single issue that the consultant could effectively rely upon as a possible cause for the drop in productivity.

The Behavioural Reports however did reveal an interesting trend. There were a number that produced Profiles similar to the Profiles shown below which indicated frustration. When both Profiles are “tight” they could be transmitting the message that the individual felt his/her future was not clear and/or they felt there was a lack of direction in their current situation. Clearly they were confused and concerned about their future.

However the majority of the reports recorded a tight Profile I, similar to the Profiles shown above. The example in this case is an extreme case but nevertheless, there were a very significant number of reports with a similar pattern.

A tight Profile I indicates “uncertainty of role” and typically it can mean that the individual may be lacking a clear job description, might be new in a role, have no clear objective in sight and could even be confused with instructions due to perhaps an unclear understanding of who he/she should be reporting to.

When the consultant reviewed the 70 plus number of reports, a clear pattern emerged. He told us that 15 of the reports showed varying degrees of frustration (similar to the first example above) while 42 of the reports revealed either a tight, or almost tight, Profile I in their reports.

In summary, 76% of the reports indicated emotions that most likely related to their current employment situation!

The consultant dug a little deeper and after further meetings with the team members he concluded that no-one wanted to put their jobs at risk by confronting the new manager to explain their situation as job opportunities in the industry were scarce. The new GM had made a number of changes in responsibilities and was reviewing job descriptions. Many of the team members were concerned about their future and the appointment of the new GM, who was extremely well qualified, made them feel uncomfortable. A number of them were also indicating varying degrees of insecurity (indicated by a tight Profile II).

It is not uncommon for people to hide their real emotions in situations similar to this, but Extended DISC® Behavioural Reports are difficult to manipulate and emotions are difficult to suppress when answering the questionnaire.

The consultant recommended urgent attention be given to completing all job descriptions and clarification of responsibilities. In many cases it was simply the uncertainty that was impacting on performance, and we were told that the outcome has been a much more settled workplace climate with a return to a feeling of stability.

The conclusion: look for behavioural patterns when reviewing a group, especially in situations similar to this case.