From hiring a team to creating a marketing strategy, every business venture involves some level of risk. As a business owner or entrepreneur, risk-taking is simply part of the role.
While it’s impossible to predict how a decision will pay off, there are steps you can take to mitigate cost and uncertainty. Below, we outline the steps and potential benefits of calculated risk-taking. For a condensed version of our take, jump to the infographic.
What is a Calculated Risk?
A calculated risk is a risk that’s been given thoughtful consideration by weighing all potential costs and benefits. Calculated risk-takers carefully take steps toward a goal. They don’t gamble on the future. Instead, they find ways to mitigate risk as much as possible.
With every business decision, you consider the outcome and advantages or disadvantages. This is even more important with business risk-taking when the stakes are much higher. The more you can lower the potential for loss or injury to your business, the better.
How to Take Calculated Risks
When faced with an opportunity, consider these steps to work toward your goal in a thoughtful way. Even if you think of yourself as risk-averse, the below tips will come in handy for non-risky business decisions.
1. Break down the decision – Assess the larger end goal by shrinking it into smaller, individual risks. It’s far less daunting and enables you to evaluate each risk at the micro level. Start by writing down each of the component parts that make up your decision. What will be the real effort required? Begin with the easiest of those parts first.
2. Ensure your bottom line is balanced – Can your bottom line take the hit if the opportunity you pursue happens to go south? As a business owner, shareholder or employee, check your numbers quarterly or after each accounting period to assess the effectiveness of your strategy and management.
3. Evaluate the opportunity – Take a step back to gather as much valuable information as you can. Create a road map or plan of action and list possible outcomes to weigh how the risk will play out. As Richard Branson was starting Virgin Atlantic, he negotiated in his contract with Boeing the option to return the 747 plane at the end of its first year if the venture didn’t work out as expected. His team spends time finding innovative ways to protect the venture from potential risks.
4. Be OK with saying no– Keep in mind that not every idea should be pursued. If your plate is always full, it’s more difficult to find the time to go after an unexpected or shocking opportunity. In 2008, when Facebook offered $500 million to take over the growing Twitter platform, it promptly turned the offer down. The Twitter founder and team believed in its original vision.
5. Be flexible – Learn to change course if something isn’t working, but keep a forward-thinking mindset. It’s best if you can anticipate an issue before it affects your business or bottom line. For example, you pursue a new venture that’s allotted a $50,000 budget, but find out two months into the four-month-long project the budget is getting cut by $10,000. Instead of getting frustrated, head back to the drawing board to come up with a creative solution.
6. Set checkpoints – While you may be months or even years from reaching your goal, check in on your progress. Regular checkpoints will help you stay on track.
Risk-taking can mean the difference between ordinary and extraordinary. Don’t let fear get in the way if you are passionate about the direction of your goal. Your business growth depends on your willingness to try something new, even if it ends in an epic fail.
1. Gain a competitive edge in the market – Demands are always changing, along with customer needs. If you’re willing to take a risk when competitors or other businesses aren’t, people will remember you for it.
2. Drive transformational change – Status quo isn’t an option in business anymore. What will push the needle when it comes to your services and products that no other business is doing?
3. Overcome fear of failure – When you’re willing to take risks, it empowers you to break through limits (whether self-imposed or external) that may be holding you back.
4. Learn to trust more – As you overcome a fear of failure, it will instill a willingness to trust the process. If you’re unsure how to do that, lean on your team or business partner for an extra boost of confidence.
Pursuing a risk takes time, effort and courage. Particularly, in business, when there is a lot riding on your decision. However, calculated risk-taking lends itself to true innovation and growth. Industry leaders got where they are because of strategic planning and a willingness to take chances.
What are psychometric tests?
If you haven’t already had to complete one, the chances are that you will need to at some point in the future.
With this in mind, we have prepared for you the Ultimate Guide to Psychometric Tests to explain what they are, how they are used, and how to successfully complete them.
Before we get started on the article below, take note that we have three practice psychometric tests available for you to try.
If you’d like to take any of these tests, you can find them here:
- Practice Numerical Psychometric Test
- Practice Verbal Psychometric Test
- Practice Inductive Psychometric Test
Now read on and let’s get started with the Ultimate Guide to Psychometric Tests!
FREE BONUS: Get free unlimited access to Psychometric test practice (for 30 minutes) on our partner website JobTestPrep.
Psychometric tests are used in recruitment because companies want a means of fairly and accurately predicting which applicants are likely to be successful in a particular job.
The tests aimed to assess the specific abilities of candidates as they related to the requirements of the role.
For example, if a job requires the ability to work with and process numerical data, it is better for employers to be able to test whether a candidate is able to do that, rather than just asking them: candidates might over-estimate their abilities or lie. There was a need for better solution.
Let’s take a look at some of these different tests.
Ability tests are sometimes referred to as Cognitive Tests.
Let’s go into detail on some of these test types…
Numerical Reasoning Tests
They typically present the candidate with numerical information, often in the form of tables, graphs or charts, and ask the candidate to manipulate the information in order to answer the question.
They tend to be used for jobs where being able to use and understand numbers is important, such as accountants or analysts.
Here is an example of a typical numerical reasoning question (correct answers highlighted in bold):
Q1: What was the most popular flavour of preserve in 2016?
a) Strawberry Jam
b) Raspberry Jam
c) Apricot Jam
d) Plum Jam
Q2: Which country had the greatest percentage increase in preserve consumption from 2015 to 2016?
Q3: In 2015, people in the UK ate an average of 20% more preserve in 2014. What was the average preserve consumption per capita in 2014?
b) 8.16 kg
c) 8.50 kg
d) 8.72 kg
e) 9.27 kg
Verbal Reasoning Tests
There are various types but the most common tend to present the candidate with a passage of information and ask them to assess whether statements are true, false or impossible to say on the basis of the information in the passage.
Other questions assess your understanding of words or grammar.
They are often used when the job requires a candidate to accurately read and interpret written information, such as roles in marketing or customer services.
Here is an example of a typical verbal reasoning question:
You will be presented with a passage to read and a statement about that passage. You must select one of the following answers:
TRUE: The statement follows logically from the information contained in the passage
FALSE: The statement is logically false from the information contained in the passage
CANNOT SAY: It is not possible to determine whether the statement is true or false without further information
“Working in a holiday resort is a popular option for graduates wishing to see the world. It gives them the opportunity to experience foreign cultures, make friends and build lifelong memories. As the skills required for securing a job tend to be low, most graduates choose not to turn their experience into a career, but enjoy the time they spend abroad. But there is a dark side to this kind of casual work: often workers’ rights are ignored and they may find themselves working long hours for very little money, as holiday resorts often do not adhere to the standards we might expect in the UK”
Statement 1: Many graduates enjoy working in holiday resorts so much they choose to develop a career in hospitality.
(The correct answer is false: the passage says that ‘most graduates choose not to turn their experience into a career).
Statement 2: All graduates who spend time working in holiday results make friends.
(The correct answer is cannot say: the passage says that it gives [graduates] the opportunity to make friends, it is impossible to say whether all graduates do so).
Statement 3: Graduates working in holiday resorts often find that the pay and working conditions are lower than they might expect in the UK.
(The correct answer is true: the passage says that graduates may find themselves working long hours for very little money, as holiday resorts often do not adhere to the standards we might expect in the UK)
This video explains true, false, cannot say type questions in more detail:
Whilst the example above is the most commonly found type of verbal reasoning question, there are other types, as follows.
Free Text Editing
Here you must correct the text shown below.
“Many cat owners’ love there animals very much. It can be dificult four them to understand why other’s don’t also enjoy they’re company. Living with someone who cat’s effect differently can be hard particularly if their allergic, but with practise gets easier”
As you can see, this passage contains a number of spelling and grammatical errors. The correct answer is shown below:
“Many cat owners love their animals very much. It can be difficult for them to understand why others don’t also enjoy their company. Living with someone who cats affect differently can be hard, particularly if they’re allergic, but with practice gets easier”
These questions require you to arrange the sentences in order, depending on an understanding of the language they use.
You have invited a number of colleagues to a meeting. Please rank their responses from the most to least positive:
1. Ok, sounds good, please can you send me the agenda?
2. I’m sorry, I can’t make it but thanks for inviting me.
3. No. That’s not convenient for me and I don’t think I need to be there anyway.
4. Great – I’ll look forward to seeing you there
5. Is it important that I’m there? Is there any chance I could grab the minutes from someone instead?
The correct order is:
1. Great – I’ll look forward to seeing you there
2. Ok, sounds good, please can you send me the agenda?
3. I’m sorry, I can’t make it but thanks for inviting me.
4. Is it important that I’m there? Is there any chance I could grab the minutes from someone instead?
5. No. That’s not convenient for me and I don’t think I need to be there anyway.
Abstract/Logical Reasoning Tests
They typically present you with a sequence of images or patterns and ask you to identify the next in the series or the odd one out.
As they require no specific learned skills to complete they are often seen as the ‘purest’ test of ability as they are less affected by education level.
Abstract reasoning tests tend to be used for jobs where the candidate will need to problem solve effectively, manage new situations and understand how different elements can interrelate, as such they are often used for leadership and managerial roles.
Here are some examples of abstract reasoning questions:
Look at the items in the top row and decide which of the items in the bottom row comes next in the sequence:
The correct answer is D. To solve this, you will need to have identified the two rules operating here:
Rule 1: Odd to even, the shapes row move one position upwards, reappearing at the bottom when they disappear off the top.
Rule 2: Even to odd, the shapes move one position to the left, reappearing on the right when they disappear off the left side.
Abstract reasoning questions often involve movement of shapes.
Look out for different rules that operate on odd or even questions as they are becoming more common.
Here is another example of a tricky abstract reasoning question:
Look at the items in the top row and decide which of the items in the bottom row comes next in the sequence:
The correct answer is A. To solve this question, you need to understand that the squares in the top half of the boxes tell you something about the shapes below them – they are a kind of code. In this case there are four rules:
Rule 1: Grey square means that the shape and colour of the shape below are correct.
Rule 2: Striped square means that the shape and colour of the shape below are incorrect.
Rule 3: Black square means that the shape of the shape below is correct but colour is wrong.
Rule 4: White square means that the colour of the shape below is correct but shape is wrong.
Mechanical Reasoning Tests
These tests evaluate competence in mechanical or technical ability.
They tend to be used for jobs where there is a need to understand how things work technically, such as engineering roles.
They often include questions on topics such as levers, gears, pulleys, springs, screws, acceleration, gravity, clamps, shafts, pressure, friction, eights, volumes, conveyor belts, kinetic and potential energy, balancing scales, simple electrical circuits, applied maths, magnetism, mirrors and reflection.
This film gives a good introduction to solving different mechanical reasoning tests.
Critical Thinking Tests
These tests aim to assess the candidates’ ability to think critically about information.
This includes analysing, conceptualising and reasoning.
To be successful candidates must be able to structure and appraise arguments, identify assumptions and inferences, and understand and synthesise information, these tests are primarily used for lawyers but they are also used by other organisations where a high level of analysis is required.
The most common critical thinking test is Watson Glaser.
You can find out more about these types of tests in this video:
There are many different personality tests available, the most robust are based around the ‘Big Five’ personality traits: Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism, an example of this would be NEO PI-R.
There are other personality tests that are particularly relevant to the workplace, such as the OPQ (Occupational Personality Questionnaire) or that assess how an individual is likely to respond to authority (e.g. FIRO-B).
Others assess how individuals are likely to behave under pressure (such as Hogan Dark Side).
A more recent trend has emerged in which one test can provide a wealth of different psychometric data in one go, such as Talent Q Dimensions.
These tests aim to understand what is likely to drive or motivate an individual.
There are many different things that might motivate someone, things like the need for sustainability (e.g. money and security), relatedness needs (e.g. recognition, affiliation and competition) or growth needs (e.g. power, advancement and achievement).
Understanding what motivates someone is particularly useful for understanding whether they are going to find the culture and expectations of the organisation agreeable, and in establishing whether they are likely to focus effectively on the priorities of the role.
Situational Judgement Tests
These tests are designed to understand how a candidate might actually behave in the workplace.
For example, are they likely to be a good team player?
Are they likely to show high levels of perseverance?
Or are they likely to focus mainly on themselves and give up at the first hurdle?
This is assessed by presenting candidates with a hypothetical scenario, relevant to their desired job, and asking them to select the option which they see as the best response.
These tend to be useful to assess attitude, motivation or organisational fit.
This film introduces situational judgement test in a little more detail:
In reality it is not unusual to be asked to complete several psychometric tests for the same role: numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning is a particularly common combination, particularly for leadership roles.
You can find our expert guide to Situational Judgement Tests here.
What makes a good psychometric test?
With psychometric tests feeling so impersonal and playing such an important part in securing your desired job, it’s reasonable to have questions.
‘What makes a psychometric test any good?’
‘Why is so much weight placed on psychometrics?’
‘How can I be sure that the test I’m taking is a good test?’
Good psychometric tests have good validity, reliability and use norm groups to interpret the results.
They should also be fair and unbiased against any particular group, and they should be administered and interpreted by someone qualified to do so.
Let’s explore what this means…
Validity means that the test does what it says it does.
So if a test says that it assesses numerical ability, does it actually do so.
There are a number of different types of validity:
This is used to explore whether the test actually measures what it is intended to measure, and not something else.
For example, if a numerical reasoning test were only available in English, then for international candidates it would not only be measuring numerical skills, but also their ability to read and understand English.
This is used to explore whether performance on the test is correlated to other variables.
For example, does a candidate’s performance on a verbal reasoning test correlate with their real work verbal reasoning skills.
Predictive validity is one particularly important kind of criterion validity; this explores the ability of the test to predict future performance.
This describes whether the test ‘looks like’ it is assessing what it says it is assessing.
For example, if an applicant to a job were told that their logical reasoning skills would be tested by measuring their baking skills, it would be hard for candidates to feel that the test was accurate or worth using.
Reliability means that the test consistently or reliably measures the same thing.
It’s no use if a test of numerical ability only sometimes measures numerical ability!
It needs to always measure the same thing to be of any use.
These are a number of different ways of assessing reliability.
Here are some of the most common:
If a person takes the same test (and they hadn’t done anything to improve their performance) you would expect them to have a similar score, and this is what test-retest reliability evaluates.
A group of individuals are given the same test over a period of time to evaluate whether their performance changes.
A good test will have a high degree of stability over time.
Internal consistency reliability
This assesses how consistently a person performs over the different test questions.
One might expect that a person might answer similar questions in a similar way – if they don’t, then there might be a problem with the questions.
This is typically measured by split-half (or parallel form) reliability, which involves splitting all of the questions into two groups and examining the correlation between performance on both question groups.
The higher the consistency, the greater the reliability.
This examines the extent to which different people would draw the same conclusions from the results of the test.
In a test with good inter-related reliability, different people would tend to give the same rating.
Norm referencing is a way of interpreting an individual’s performance on a test.
Norm referencing involves comparing an individual’s performance on a test, to the performance of the norm group (a norm group is a group of other people that have also competed the test).
I.e. it shows how well you have done, compared to other people that have taken the test.
This is useful because it tells us how well someone has actually done on the test.
For example, knowing that someone had scored 13 out of 20 on a test doesn’t tell us that much.
It could be a good score if everyone else scored 10 out of 10 or poor if everyone else scored 20 out of 20.
However, knowing that someone scored better than 79% of the norm group tells us far more about how good actual performance was.
It is important that the test administrator selects an appropriate norm group to compare your performance to.
Some typical norm group characteristics are age, educational achievement level, or job level.
Fair and Unbiased
For a test to be fair and unbiased, no individuals from any particular group should be disadvantaged when completing the test.
For example, if women or black people consistently performed worse on a test than other groups, this would not be a fair test.
Psychologists are aware of the and the test development process should have identified and corrected any adverse impact of a psychometric test.
Other ways of making the test fair, relate to reasonable adjustments for people who need them, for example individuals with dyslexia might need longer to complete the test.
If you have any additional needs, it is important that you mention these to the test administrator so that they can put any necessary adjustments in place.
Administered and interpreted by a someone qualified to do so
The British Psychological Society requires individuals to complete a qualification before they are allowed to administer or interpret psychometric test results.
This ensures that the tests are used appropriately and fairly. There are several different levels of qualification:
Assistant Test User: Occupational Test Administrator
This qualification allows an individual to administer a test under the supervision of an Occupational Psychologist who is registered in their use.
Test User: Occupational, Ability
Test User: Occupational, Personality
This qualification allows an individual to administer and interpret psychometric testsof personality. Typically, a user will have to complete an ‘additional instrument’ qualification for each test they use.
Specialist in Test Use
This is a qualification for individuals who want to be able to use a wide range of personality assessments.
You can check whether someone is qualified to administer psychometric tests by looking at the Register of Qualifications in Test Use (RQTU): https://ptc.bps.org.uk/find-professional/bps-qualified-test-users-offering-testing-services.
How can you check if the test you are being asked to complete is a good test?
The best way to check whether the test you are being asked to complete is a good test is to look at the reviews on the British Psychological Society test register.
This can be found at https://ptc.bps.org.uk/tests-and-testing/psychological-tests/test-publishers-list.
Some test publishers also include their ‘test manual’ on their website where you can read about their development process and norm groups.
An example of this is the ‘Technical Manual’ on the Jung Type Indicator Website: http://www.jungtype.com/Downloads.htm
Using a reputable test publishes is also helpful for indicating that the test is likely to be of a good standard. Some of the leading publishers are: SHL, Talent Q, Kenexa, CEB, Capp and Saville.
Why are psychometric tests used?
Psychometric tests are widely used because they are a cheap and effective way of distinguishing between candidates and accurately identifying who is likely to be successful in the job role.
They can be administered to candidates early on in the process and don’t require a face to face meeting, thereby reducing the time and costs associated with selection.
They are also the best predictors of job performance: research has shown them to be 14 times more predictive of job performance than the average interview (Hunter and Hunter, 1984 1) ).
Psychometric testing is particularly useful for ‘volume recruitment’, this is when a job attracts a large number of applicants.
In this instance the psychometric tests are often used to sift out candidates who don’t achieve a specified level on the test.
Other organisations prefer to use psychometrics to support a wider selection process; the tests might form part of an assessment centre for example and the candidate’s performance on the tests will be considered amongst a range of other evidence in considering the candidate’s suitability.
Who uses psychometric tests?
Psychometric tests are becoming incredibly common – around 80% of the US Fortune 500 and 75% of the UK Times 100 companies use them 2) , and the rate of test use is growing by 10 – 15% per year in the US 3) .
Whilst psychometric use is well established in most European countries, it is growing in other countries around the world, with over 56% of India’s top 100 organisations now using psychometrics 4) .
It would be impossible to list all of the organisations that use psychometric tests but here are a few examples: Bank of England, Ford, Deloitte, Procter and Gamble, Hewlett Packard, JP Morgan, Citigroup, Microsoft, McDonald’s, 3M, Barclays, E.ON, Ernst and Young, RBS, Pizza Hut and KPMG.
What to expect from a psychometric test
Psychometric tests are typically short, intense and challenging!
The often last less than 30 minutes and require candidates to complete a number of different questions.
Broadly speaking psychometric ability tests measure either speed (how many questions a candidate can complete in the given timeframe) or power (the most difficult question a candidate can correctly answer) or some combination of both.
Some newer psychometrics are ‘responsive’ which means that they can react to a candidate’s performance on previous questions and present different questions depending on their performance so far.
This allows for an even greater level of discrimination between candidates.
Personality tests are rarely subject to a time limit, but tend to ask candidates to respond to a range of questions, often asking candidates to rate how closely a statement reflects them.
Psychometrics are now primarily delivered online. You will be sent an email including a link which will enable you to access the test.
You should research the test published before clicking on this link so that you know what the test will look and feel like.
You should also expect to be retested.
Where psychometrics are used as a screening tool and completed online, organisations tend to retest candidates at the interview so that they can be sure that the candidate did indeed complete the test.
It really is not worth cheating by trying to get someone else to help you with tests as you will probably get caught out later.
How to prepare for psychometric tests
Psychometric reasoning tests measure your ability, and to some extent this is fixed and your ability to dramatically alter your results is limited by your actual ability level.
What you want to do is ensure that you are performing at your maximum level.
The best way to do this is to practice.
Familiarise yourself with the different types of questions that psychometric testspresent.
Completing lots of practice questions will allow you to identify areas where you need to revise or learn new techniques, and equip you with strategies you can use to solve the questions.
For example, the more you practice abstract reasoning tests, the more familiar you become with some of the different ways in which questions are constructed, this will enable you to decode them more effectively.
It is also worth revising for numerical and mechanical reasoning tests to ensure that the tools and techniques you need to use are at the forefront of your mind and you don’t have to waste time trying to remember them.
You can take our practice psychometric tests here:
If those were useful, you may also like to try WikiJob’s psychometric tests app, available for both Apple and Android, which includes 10 numerical tests and 8 verbal tests. The tests include a timer and worked solutions at the end.
Setting yourself up for success on the day
To give yourself the best chance of success, you need to prepare yourself.
This means sorting out your IT and making sure you understand how to access the test.
Ensure that you have the things around you that you might need: as a rule of thumb, make sure you have a pencil, some scrap pencil and a calculator with you, and that you can see a clock.
You might also find it useful to have checklists of how to complete common mathematical tasks, for example.
Make sure that you will not be distracted in the middle of the test – speak to the people you live with and ask them not to disturb you.
Place a sign on the door if you need to, and turn off notifications on your phone and/or computer.
Boost your chances of success by making sure you are on top form for the test.
Do it at a time of day when you feel most alert.
Make sure you are well rested, not hungry and thirsty, and that you don’t have a hangover! Keep calm, even if you feel anxious about the test.
Some people find that spending a few moments practicing mindfulness before starting the test gets them into the right frame of mind.
What to do if you don’t hit the grade?
Don’t worry if you don’t get the results you were hoping for in your psychometric tests; it is often only one part of an organisation’s selection process and you may be able to impress assessors in other exercises.
Often assessors consider a candidate’s performance holistically using psychometrics to support their observations from different exercises.
Remember, psychometric tests are supposed to be hard. If they were easy then there wouldn’t be any point in using them.
Keep practicing and make sure that you are doing the best that YOU can do.
If you’ve not been successful, try not to worry about it too much.
Tests are used because they indicate who is likely to be able to successfully complete a job – if you didn’t pass the test then there’s a strong chance that you wouldn’t enjoy the job anyway.
You might be better off looking for a job that is a better fit with your aptitudes and preferences where you will be able to flourish.
|1.||↑||Hunter, J.E. & Hunter, R.F. (1984) Validity and Utility of Alternative Predictors of Job Performance, Psychological Bulletin, 96 (1), 72-98|
LAST UPDATED ON DECEMBER 11, 2018
It’s important to make sure your employees have the tools, skills, and experience they need to be successful in the role, but it’s also essential to your job to make sure you’re managing their morale. Low morale can be caused by high stress, infrequent praise, overly aggressive management styles, and poor communication. Employees produce their best work if they feel supported, appreciated, and rewarded. High employee morale reduces absenteeism, increases productivity, and lowers employee turnover. This is the reason why organizations with engaged employees outperform those with low engagement by 202%.
There are no hard and fast rules that will work to raise the morale of every employee, and it’s important to remember that you can learn everything you need to about managing your employees, from your own employees. Stay engaged with your workers and show them that you care about their happiness just as much as their productivity. More than running a good business, keeping your employee morale high requires being a good boss.
Keep reading if you want some tips on how to maintain high morale while growing your business:
When you wake up each morning and prepare for the day ahead, what motivates you?
What internal or external forces push you forward to live and work and even play for the 16 to 18 hours each day that you are awake?
Is it the want to see and spend time with your loved ones?
The desire to do a job and earn money and praise?
Or is it the simple, instinctive aspects of human nature, such as waking up because you don’t want to sleep all day?
Do you even really know?
Regardless of the triggers for our actions, understanding what stimulates us, as well as those around us, can have a profoundly positive effect on our day to day lives.
Let’s explore motivation – how it moves us, why it’s essential, and if we’re lacking, what we can do to gain back our inspiration.
What is Motivation?
The textbook definition of motivation is reasonably simple – it’s our basic reasoning for, and the need, want, and willingness to do something.
However, identifying motivation on a more granular level is not as simple.
Because, as humans, our desires and goals are all different, both in where those desires originate and in how they evolve.
The reasoning or justification for moving (or not moving at all) from point A to point B varies from person to person.
Consider an office environment where two co-workers of equal education and talent, apply themselves to a project for entirely different purposes.
The first one works hard to complete the task because it means a Friday off from work. The other does it for a promised bonus.
So how are we to recognise motivation in ourselves to achieve the goals we set?
How do we connect with others and help discover what will move them to reach their potential?
To help inform our understanding of motivation, we need to know what exactly motivates us. And why what drives one person, may not even be a consideration to another.
What Motivates Us?
Many theories have arisen over the past 100 years attempting to explain what moves us to act towards a particular goal. The most popular ideas often fall into one of the following three categories:
The thought that individuals are driven to act to maintain a specific state of euphoric feeling. For example, someone who requires high-arousal will seek out activities that push the edge such as skydiving or riding roller coasters.
A person with a lower arousal threshold may look for more low key fulfillment, like cooking or watching a movie.
Here, an individual’s behavior is propelled by the instinctual necessity to serve their own fundamental needs or the needs of their loved ones. For instance, a parent may be motivated by fear to protect their child or by love to provide for their well-being.
Finally, this level of motivation stems from behavior that is driven by a biological desire to fulfill a requirement. You eat because you must to survive. You work because you require financial rewards or want to feel part of a team.
The Maslow Hierarchy of Needs
The consideration of needs has shown the most traction for the actual basis of motivation. One of the most famous reviews on the subject dates back to 1943 and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Conceived by American psychologist Abraham Maslow, the groundbreaking work he produced was his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation.”
With a focus on what makes a person happy and what individuals did to achieve those objectives (instead of the standard approach at the time to look at what was wrong with a person), he devised five levels of need:
The most basic needs and requirements to sustain our survival. Food, sleep, water, and air.
The need for security whether it’s by way of physical security (such as a roof over our heads), financial stability (savings or retirement funds) or general health and well-being.
Love and Belonging
Also known as social needs, this includes a sense of community in a family or social network or being loved by others.
Include the desire to be recognised or to achieve prominence and stature. These needs are common in professional settings but are also huge factors in a social environment.
The highest and most complex level on the Maslow hierarchy, this involves the fulfillment of potential – where an individual looks to their personal growth and reaching their highest capabilities.
Most often cast as a pyramid, the foundation of the hierarchy consists of the basic requirements for survival. As we meet primal needs, we yearn for more significant growth and achievement.
Maslow’s theory does have detractors – mainly those who claim that our ambitions do not easily align along a one, two, three step process.
Yes, that may be true, but when looking at where motivation comes from, the hierarchy helps define what sparks an individual’s specific drive.
Let’s look at our earlier example of the two co-workers, of equal talent, skill, and knowledge, with one driven by time, the other by money.
With the hierarchy as a general guide, one might surmise that the employee-driven by the extra free time grew up in a household that revolved around family. Their upbringing was such that greater value came from spending time with loved ones.
The employee aiming for the bonus may have grown up poor, or conversely in a family with financial security. Either way, their value of money, no matter the reason, help define their motivations.
This tells us two things.
First, once specific needs are met, or if we find it unnecessary to fill particular requirements, our motivation moves toward unrealised pursuits.
Second, the things that motivate may also be a learned behavior. In the case of the employee growing up with financial security, their environment taught them the value of having that safety, and they resolved to never go without.
Why is Motivation So Important?
So why does knowing your motivations matter?
For one, knowing what moves you leads to seeking out conditions and experiences that result in higher overall well-being.
Failing to grasp what drives you may result in dissatisfaction, or unhappiness with the way things are instead of you creating the life you want for yourself and your loved ones.
Second, with the knowledge of specific motivation, you can help spur others to realise their goals.
Do you have people that directly report to you? Much like our scenario, you can identify what drives them to better performance and results.
If you’re a parent, you can identify what triggers your child will best respond to help them reach their potential.
To inform that identification, two levels of motivation further define where a person’s incentivisation may stem.
This originates from an individual’s inner desires and fulfillment for their personal satisfaction. For instance, a person who pens poetry for their own enjoyment and not for publication does so for intrinsic reasons.
From a professional standpoint, you find intrinsic motivation in someone who enjoys their work for the knowledge gained or the satisfaction they receive versus any monetary rewards it provides.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, extrinsic, as the name suggests, comes from outside aspirations. In both a personal or professional setting, this involves tangible rewards or recognition – anything from trophies to monetary prizes to general praise or acknowledgment.
Whether intrinsic or extrinsic, knowing which is more important to you (and others) will ensure you gain more from your pursuits – personally and professionally.
How Do You Improve Your Motivation?
The reasons we lose motivation are legion.
A bad grade in school.
Poor feedback from a supervisor at work.
A recently ended relationship.
Those, of course, represent the extreme scenarios, but they do prove the point that challenges in life exist, and if not careful, they can easily derail us.
How then do we keep our heads high and motivation up?
Here are a few points to help push your forward:
Don’t Aim for the Result, Instead Appreciate the Journey
This may seem to run counter to conventional wisdom, but in only looking ahead to the finish line, we fail to see the road the race is run on. Without a clear focus, we often stumble.
Instead, break it down, focus on how you will get from point A to point B to point C, and anticipate and prepare for any challenges you might face. That way you know your way around the course and can more easily take on adversity as it appears.
Control What You Can, Don’t Worry About What You Can’t
Many times when we aim for a specific goal, a lot of “what ifs” start to creep into our heads.
Heading to a job interview – “What if they don’t like me?”
Giving a presentation – “What if they don’t listen?”
Even asking someone out on a date – “What if they say no?”
The world is full of variables that we don’t control – from personal relationships to professional tasks and beyond – and never will. Being hung up on those outside forces is a disservice to the time and effort you put into achieving what you set out to do.
Zero in on what you need to be successful and let go of any fear of the unknown. The more focused on what you need to do, the more motivated you’ll be to succeed.
Seek Out Positive Reinforcement, and Be Positive Yourself
If you surround yourself with negative information and negative people, you’re bound to find yourself brought down to a similar level. If you quest for positivity, the opposite will be true.
Sure, you can’t always dictate who or what you’ll be around (an unhappy co-worker, for instance). You can though infuse uplifting stimulus through music, books or other media.
Ultimately, you might be unable to eliminate your exposure to negative elements totally, but you can expose yourself to factors that help boost your positivity and in turn your motivation.
Motivation is often a concept that doesn’t always receive the attention it should. Typically, we go about our lives paying little notice to how to achieve the goals we set for ourselves.
To truly be fulfilled though, we must seek out what will make us better. Not just for our well-being but those around us.
Take time to understand and appreciate what motivates you, and seek out ways to feed your aspirations. Not only will you fully understand why you get out of bed each morning, you’ll also look forward to it.
ALAN is CEO of CD as well as a qualified executive coach and a seasoned business mentor. He challenges progressive business people to step-up & realise their vision.
Top 10 skills in 2022:
1 analytical thinking and innovation
2 active learning
4 tech design
5 critical thinking
6 complex problem solving
7 leadership and social influence
8 emotional intelligence
10 systems analysis
INITIATIVEONE | 6/11/2018 10:56:26 PM
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IN LEADERSHIP NOW DEFINES SUCCESS IN THE WORKPLACE AND LIFE
You’ve probably heard it a thousand times … business is business and what’s personal should stay personal. Keep those parts of your life separate. Don’t let your personal life affect your work or spill into the company’s performance. That’s the prevailing thinking in a lot of organizations.
And we couldn’t disagree more.
Thankfully, we’re not alone. Recently, the narrative has been shifting (for the better). There’s a growing body of compelling research correlating high emotional intelligence with success at work. Emotional intelligence in the workplace (EQ) is becoming a pretty hot topic for business, maybe even bordering on buzzword territory. But don’t be tempted to ignore this as just another fad. Emotional intelligence in the workplace is critical to being successful in your career and as a whole organization.
[#infographic] #IQ scores have increased 25 points in recent years, all while #EQ scores have steadily declined via @InitiativeOne https://bit.ly/2Mk2Qx5
Because the truth is we’re whole people, who can’t and shouldn’t separate the rational from the emotional. Emotion is core to being human. And our own research and experience has shown that businesses can only go from good to great when the people inside them can say they’re the same people at work as they are at home.
Healthy emotion absolutely does have a place in business. In fact, it makes businesses better…if you create a safe environment filled with hope for a brighter career future, where high emotional intelligence can really thrive
[#infographic] Top 5 countries with highest #EQ 1. Philippines 2. El Salvador 3. Bahrain 4. Oman 5. Colombia via @InitiativeOne https://bit.ly/2Mk2Qx5
Of course, the logical question is, “How important is emotional intelligence compared to just plain intelligence?”
Studies show that emotional intelligence in leadership plays a larger role in our success both at work and in our personal lives compared to pure Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Even though it’s tempting to think IQ equals success, it’s clear we can’t simply focus on IQ as the greatest predictor of success in life and at work. Not anymore.
So, let’s dig into the differences between EQ and IQ, because most people have heard of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and know what it is, but some either may not have heard of or may not fully understand what Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ) is.
- The first IQ test was created in 1904 by Alfred Binet, and most modern tests have a rough scoring range of 0-200, with the average score being 100. It measures how smart a person is.
- EQ or “Emotional Intelligence” was coined by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer in 1990, and is generally scored on a scale of 0-100 (average score of 75). This measures how emotionally aware you are of yourself, others, and navigating the emotional side of relationships.
Comparisons of how IQ and EQ tests measure things differently are:
- IQ is typically inborn vs. EQ is a learned ability
- Success in school relates to IQ and accomplishment in life relates to EQ
- IQ measures knowledge and reasoning while EQ gauges ability to successfully navigate the emotional elements of relationships
[#infographic] Employees are 400% less likely to leave with a high #EQ manager via @InitiativeOne https://bit.ly/2Mk2Qx5
Interestingly enough, while IQ scores have jumped by 25 points in recent years, EQ scores among adults have fallen. While the exact causes for this are not fully known, in working with scores of teams we’ve seen that the recent high rate of technological and social change could be playing a part. That exponential change can negatively influence our self-perception, introduce stress, and hinder our ability to deal with the changing world around us.
With all of this change going on, maybe it’s not terribly surprising (although maybe it’s unexpected) to see that the major developed countries of the world aren’t necessarily the ones leading the pack when it comes to emotional intelligence. In fact, despite what you might expect, the US is not leading the world in emotional intelligence scores. We rank number 15internationally, behind mostly South American and a couple of Middle Eastern countries. The top 5 countries are:
2. El Salvador
And the least emotionally aware countries:
No matter which country you hail from or how your country ranks internationally, we can no longer afford to ignore EQ. Emotional intelligence is truly too important. So much so that a lack of growth in this area can lead to a number of negative outcomes for businesses:
1. Poor internal team alignment
1. Burn unnecessary emotional energy
2. Create unresolved conflict
3. Leaders can be the source of problems
4. Energy spent on office drama/politics means less time spent on more productive things
5. Low engagement from your team
But when you do put your focus and effort on increasing your team’s emotional intelligence, good things happen. Many studies about EQ point to better company outcomes in several areas:
- Enhanced company profitability
- Increased wages and earnings for employees
- Fewer lost-time accidents
- Lower employee turnover
- Quicker job advancement
[#infographic] People with high #EQ earn $29,000 more per year than those with low EQ via @InitiativeOne https://bit.ly/2Mk2Qx5
What company wouldn’t want these benefits for their organization, especially with the war for talent continuing to heat up? And when you are successful at recruiting people with high emotional intelligence, there are many personal benefits that accrue to them, making them more likely to be a loyal employee to your organization.
In addition to improved outcomes for the companies we work for, there are quite a few personal benefits. This is a positive-feedback loop with better personal benefits leading to happier and more successful workers, which in turn helps companies perform more efficiently, effectively, and profitably.
And that virtuous circle usually continues to feed on itself once you’ve got it rolling.
1. SELF-KNOWLEDGE AND AWARENESS
Learning more about who we are and how we are wired based on our family and life history can bring us to a place of being more aware of our negative emotional triggers.
If we are more in tune with the fact that we are sad, angry, anxious, etc., at any given time, and more specifically what triggers those feelings, we are more likely to avoid going to a negative place. Or, at the very least, we can step back from the ledge much more quickly than before.
[#infographic] A study by McClelland in 1999 showed a 50% drop in “lost-time” accidents after plant received #EmotionalIntelligence training via @InitiativeOne #EQ https://bit.ly/2Mk2Qx5
Taking this a step further to a place of mastering, or beginning to master, our emotions means we don’t allow our moods or the moods of others to rule or ruin our day. Stepping back to look at things more objectively or from the view of a disinterested party can allow us to get some perspective, thus diffusing a tense or stressful situation.
It’s just not healthy to allow ourselves to be blown about by every wind of emotion that comes our way.
3. GREATER SUCCESS IN SOCIAL LIFE
Higher emotional intelligence at work can carry over into our personal lives. Applying the same skills that enhance our ability to work more effectively with a team will help us better relate to our significant other, children, relatives, etc.
4. INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY
Not only will your company benefit from having you more efficient at your work, your personal productivity will soar when you aren’t tethered to negative thoughts about your current situation or having time wasted with drama.
Think about how much more time you will have to do the things you love!
5. INCREASED JOB TENURE AND PAY
Working in a company with an emotionally intelligent team, you are more likely to stay put for a longer period of time rather than job hopping every time you get worn out by office politics or internal drama.
HOW TO IMPROVE EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE SKILLS IN 7 STEPS
Since this is such a learned ability, we need to actively work on improving our emotional intelligence skills. We never fully “arrive” at a final destination of perfect EQ. Our environment of new and changing relationships requires continual learning and growth in this area.
Plus, we may also improve and then regress in certain skills, reminding us that our work of becoming a better leader is never complete.
It’s not just about individual improvement in emotional intelligence either; as successful experts in this field, we know how critical it is to raise the level of EQ for your entire team. In doing this, your team is able to accelerate their communication, decision-making, and ultimately faster progress and profitability.
[#infographic] In a UK study, one company saw 22% annual profit growth in restaurant locations with managers who had a high #EQ via @InitiativeOne https://bit.ly/2Mk2Qx5
With the help of your team, create a list of 8-12 norms that you expect every team member to exhibit. Then work to hold each other accountable to them through positive reminders.
Once you’ve documented them, regularly remind people of them and what each means. This isn’t intended to be something you beat people over the head with when they fail, but a way to come alongside and remind them how they can succeed by giving that norm a bit more attention in their daily work life.
2. TRULY LISTEN, DON’T JUST WAIT TO SPEAK
This one is hard for many of us …
It’s tempting to just think about what we are going to say next in a conversation, rather than really listening to what the other person is saying. This stems either from the need to be perceived as smart or make sure to get our point across (usually to rebut the other party’s idea).
If we resist this urge, we can make more of an impact by being confident in who we are and allowing ourselves to listen intently to what the other person is saying, thus demonstrating respect.
3. EXHIBIT IMPECCABLE COMMUNICATION
Most of us genuinely believe we are communicating well, and many times we don’t even realize that we could be misinterpreted or that someone could understand us differently than we intend.
Some tips to keep in mind for enhancing our communication:
• Don’t have meetings after the meeting: Make sure that we say what we need to say when the team is together to make a decision. Otherwise, we are likely to undermine the decision with side conversations later.
• Get stuff that is “under the table” and put it “on the table”: For items that aren’t being discussed because we feel they are too sensitive, embarassing, or uncomfortable, muster courage and show some vulnerability by talking to the other person about that “under the table” item. Do this in a non-threatening, kind way with a focus on understanding their side of the issue; it usually helps to do this in private.
• Deliver the mail to the correct address: Simply put … don’t gossip. If you have an issue with someone, that person deserves to hear it from you directly, in private and with sensitivity. Gossip only tears a team further apart.
Connect your feelings with your thoughts. Some people have no problem with this; others struggle in this area. Sometimes, it helps to write your daily thoughts and feelings down in a journal to tune into your unconscious feelings by reflecting on the day.
Listen to your body’s intuition; that knot in your stomach might be warning you of a danger, even if it doesn’t seem that way to others. Try to sense the feelings of others and use that to try to help them resolve any negative feelings that might hinder their ability to do their job.
[#infographic] High #EQ has been shown to enhance company profitability, increase wages, reduce lost-time accidents, lower employee turnover, and improve job advancement via @InitiativeOne https://bit.ly/2Mk2Qx5
5. DISPLAY SYMPATHY AND EMPATHY
Putting yourself in the shoes of another is often a humbling act, since it requires us to recognize that, perhaps, there is a different point of view at play in the situation. Plus, if you do this and communicate in a way that demonstrates to the other person that you truly understand them, most people are grateful you took the time and showed them respect.
6. EXPLORE “WHY” THE OTHER PERSON IS FEELING/ACTING THAT WAY
Perhaps your co-worker’s recent outburst was completely unrelated to the task at hand. Are they going through a divorce? Did they just get bad news about the health of a loved one?
There are many times where the emotion displayed has little to no bearing on the work involved. It can simply be related to their personal lives. Find a caring way to ask them how they are doing and how you can help, and you might find that their emotional walls come down.
Most of us don’t like to look in the mirror … and even less do we like to ask others to hold up that mirror and point out things we need to work on.
Now, this should be done with care and respect, but if we are to become more emotionally intelligent leaders, we must pursue this feedback from others.
With more and more research indicating that people and companies who exhibit higher emotional intelligence than others have better personal and professional outcomes, this is a topic we all could spend more time growing in.
[#infographic] Is #EQ or #IQ more important to success at work and in life via @InitiativeOne? You might be surprised by the answer. https://bit.ly/2Mk2Qx5
What are the important qualities and outcomes that are a byproduct of having high EQ?
If you can see these 7 emotional intelligence outcomes in your people and organization, you know you are on the right track to improving EQ:
1. IN TUNE WITH EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS OF OTHERS
It’s not always easy to be attuned to the feelings of other people when we tend to focus on our own ups and downs. If we aren’t careful, this can lead to a myopic and self-centered view of the world, discounting what is happening to others that you work or interact with on a daily basis.
But as we become more emotionally astute, we see the patterns of other’s feelings more clearly. This allows us to help others when their emotions are turning negative by politely encouraging them to recognize and change their negative reaction.
2. BETTER INTERNAL TEAM ALIGNMENT
Part of becoming a more effective team has to do with getting everyone rowing in the same direction. Far too often, the opposite happens, and factions rip and tear at the fabric of our companies.
The result is delay, frustration, and misalignment. But once we get people following the same team norms, looking at the same finish line, and backing each other up, that’s where teams really start performing at their highest level..
3. BEING PROACTIVE INSTEAD OF REACTIVE
While it sounds simple, it can be harder to put into practice.
But as we hone our emotional intelligence skills, we can change our instinct to react, particularly when we are tired, sick, or upset. The discipline to resist that urge, take a step back, and respond with forethought becomes easier as we progress in our journey.
Which leads us to the next point …
4. STAYING CALM UNDER STRESS
When we get stressed, we often have a “fight or flight” response. Demonstrating to our team that we can stay calm in those situations shows our increasing EQ.
Sometimes, we may need to take a few minutes, hours, or even days to cool off. Be honest about it. That’s human. Let your team know you need some time, but promise to get back together to discuss once you’ve had time to decompress and reflect to see both sides.
Maybe there are other ways you can deal with stress (prayer, meditation, taking a walk, etc.).
5. LESS OFFICE DRAMA
If you’ve ever been part of an office that seems to have drama 24/7, where people are gossiping and complaining seemingly every day (including the weekends), you know it’s not a happy environment. Unless you’re one of those people who thrives on drama (if you are, please stop it—it’s not healthy for anyone).
By increasing emotional intelligence among your team, there will be less and less drama or unresolved conflict among co-workers. Everyone will be happier, and your business will be, too.
[#infographic] US Air Force recruiters increased their ability to predict successful hires by 300% when they screened for #EQ via @InitiativeOne https://bit.ly/2Mk2Qx5
6. REDUCING NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
And if there is less unresolved conflict, the negative emotions swirling in our heads will be less over time. Think about how often you spend thinking negative thoughts about a situation that hasn’t even had a trial at resolution. Those thoughts kill our productivity, not to mention leave us emotionally (and sometimes physically) drained.
7. ABILITY TO BOUNCE BACK FROM ADVERSITY
With less drama and fewer negative emotions weighing you down, it is simply easier to bounce back from adverse situations, whether at work or in your home life.
Emotional intelligence in the workplace is critical to your team’s effectiveness. It pays huge dividends in your personal life. And since both of those are inexorably intertwined, it would be foolish for companies not to work on improving the EQ of their teams.
We hope this guide gave you some actionable emotional intelligence tips for your team to move into a new era of cooperation, productivity, and profitability.
That said, we’ve found that most teams need the structure of a reputable team of experts to guide them through the journey of turbocharging their collective emotional intelligence. Without that focus and structure, the excitement of the moment can easily fade into the grind of the week, long forgotten.
[#infographic] One company reduced their first year employee turnover and cut financial losses by 92% simply by evaluating candidates for #EQ via @InitiativeOne https://bit.ly/2Mk2Qx5
At InitiativeOne, we’ve made it our mission to be that trusted, expert partner in emotional intelligence training. We aren’t just another leadership training course. Ours is different. We focus on the people side of things. After all, we are “human beings”, not “human doings”.
True transformation starts with the hearts and minds of your team members. We don’t just train leaders; we get in the trenches with you to identify and remove the barriers that are holding your team back, all while following a research-based process.
If that sounds good to you, InitiativeOne can help your team develop better emotional intelligence. Contact us today to learn how we can help you become the kind of high-performing team you know you can be.