Why was I asked to take the PI Behavioral Assessment?

Why was I asked to take the PI Behavioral Assessment?

The PI Behavioral Assessment delivers a freakishly accurate snapshot of a person’s behavioral drives that can predict job success.

What is it?


The word “assessment” can quickly trigger fear or anxiety in many people. If you were asked to take this assessment, you can take a deep breath and let that tension go.

The Predictive Index (PI) is a talent optimization platform with solutions for recruitment strategy, employee motivation and engagement, and executive strategy alignment. The foundation of the platform is a people analytics tool, called the Behavioral Assessment (BA). This six-minute free-choice assessment asks a person to select adjectives from a list that they think best describe them, and then to select adjectives from a second list that describes how others expect them to behave. With more than 500 validity studies and 60 years of science to fall back on, this EEOC compliant assessment is one to be excited about.

How does it work?


Each adjective in the list is associated with one of four human drives: Dominance, Extraversion, Patience, and Formality.

  • Dominance is the drive to exert influence on people or events.
  • Extraversion is the drive for social interaction with other people.
  • Patience is the drive to have consistency and stability.
  • Formality is the drive to conform to rules and structure.

The BA analyzes the words that you do and do not select from each list. From that data, it generates a report that includes a visual pattern, called a Reference Profile, which highlights your drives and explains how they influence your behavior in the workplace. While there are an endless number of unique patterns, they are currently classified into 17 Reference Profiles that share similar traits.

What is it used for?


The PI Behavioral Assessment (BA) is used to hire candidates who are hardwired to be a great fit for the role, manage and inspire employees based on their unique needs, and design cohesive teams who achieve their goals. Employers who use this assessment care about the talent they are hiring as well as their company culture and employee experience.

The BA can tell a lot about a person, such as if they like to lead or participate as a team member, if they need time to process information on their own or if they like to talk things through with other people, if they prefer to work on a variety of projects or perform routine work, and if they are comfortable with ambiguity and little structure or prefer more details and guidelines.

You may also be asked to take a cognitive assessment, like the PI Cognitive Assessment, which measures the rate at which someone can process and learn new information. When used correctly, these assessments are strong indicators of job success.

Do I have to take it?


You don’t HAVE to take it, though it’s likely required information for the employer to continue processing your job application if they asked you to take the assessment. If you want to work for this employer, you should take the assessment when they send it to you. There are no right or wrong answers, so you should answer the questions truthfully. It’s also important to take the assessment in a quiet space free from distractions – and remember, you’ll need less than 10 minutes to complete it.

The information in the assessment results is beneficial for both you and the employer to enhance your experience at the company and develop professionally. After you take the assessment, a PI Certified Practitioner should review the results and your assigned Reference Profile with you to explain what it means. You’ll probably be intrigued by what they have to share with you, and it may leave you wondering how many of your friends and family they spoke with before compiling this freakishly accurate report.

What if I have already taken it?


The assessment is most accurate when taken for the first time in your native language, as long as you are 18 years or older. So if you have already taken this assessment, there’s no need to take it again. Let the employer know that you have taken it before and share your results with them. If you do not have your results readily available, you can request it from the Human Resources or People Operations team at the employer you took it for. They will most likely be open to sharing it with you since they may need to request results from other employers for their job candidates, too.

Read this blog to learn more about how the PI Behavioral Assessment can reduce bias and discrimination in the workplace or take the assessment now. Through virtual or in-person training, The Outstanding Company will help you and your team navigate the nuances of each pattern and will teach you to understand each other’s behaviors in relation to your behavioral assessment results.

Buzzwords in Human Capital Management

Buzzwords in Human Capital Management - what's it matter to you?

“HR”, “People Operations”, “Talent Operations” – aren’t they all the same? Sometimes. But not really. Human Capital Management (HCM) is about creating an environment that allows employees to do their best and to do what’s best for the business. HCM has evolved over the last several decades, and now encompasses much more than it used to.

In small companies, Human Resources (HR) is the typical name for this department, while in more modern or progressive companies it’s called the People Operations Team. In large companies, you’ll notice that the Human Capital Management department is divided into more specific business units, such as Human Resources, People Operations, Talent Operations, Culture, and Internal Communications. This blog dives into the nuances of each facet of Human Capital Management and explores the areas where The Outstanding Company can support your business.

Human Resources (HR)

Typically, HR is broken into two subsets, Administrative HR and Strategic HR. Administrative HR focuses on compensation and benefits, payroll, compliance and employment law, employee complaints or disputes, and change management. Strategic HR supports the company’s strategic business plan and focuses on what HR can do right now to support the long-term business plan. This also includes the people-related challenges they may run into when trying to execute the business plan, such as being able to hire the right talent for a rapidly growing team in a market where compensation is higher than the budget has allocated for those roles. Strategic HR leaders work closely with the Executive Leadership Team and must be well-aligned with them on company initiatives and business changes.

People Operations

As you might suspect, this aspect of HCM is catered more towards people and the interpersonal workings of employees at a company. It may include onboarding, training and development, employee relations, mentoring programs, an annual review of employee engagement, and exit interviews.

Talent Operations

While Talent Operations is often not explicitly separate from the HR or People Ops. team, the areas of focus within Talent Ops. are unique enough and demand the resources to stand on their own. Aspects of Talent Operations includes recruiting, career development, performance management, and succession planning.

The Outstanding Company provides services directly related to People and Talent Operations. We use a talent optimization platform called The Predictive Index (PI), which has unique solutions for recruitment strategy, employee motivation and engagement, and executive strategy alignment. Each aspect of the PI platform leverages data from the PI Behavioral Assessment, which collects information from an individual to create a unique behavioral report that explains this person’s drives, needs, and general temperament. Supervisors and the Talent Operations team benefit from this data because they can use it to determine which roles an internal or external candidate is best suited for, how to approach a feedback session with an employee, what format of training employees will learn the most from, how to coach employees or an employee and their supervisor to navigate a challenging situation, if employee engagement is in good standing, and so much more.

Take the 6-minute Behavioral Assessment now!


Culture typically rolls into People Operations at smaller companies, but many larger companies have a specific team dedicated to this aspect of HCM. Culture is made up of a company’s unique culture code or set of values; diversity and inclusion initiatives (such as Employee Resource Groups); employee engagement initiatives like company parties, book clubs, and volunteering opportunities; additional benefits given through HR, such as paid volunteering time, getting your birthday off, or a paid sabbatical after working at the company for a certain number of years; and other perks like snacks and drinks at the office, catered meals, bring your dog to work policy, or games like ping pong and foosball tables.

Internal Communications

There’s a lot happening within every organization that needs to be communicated clearly and efficiently to employees. Most companies have a dedicated staff member or team who manages these internal communications, which may include email newsletters, an internal company webpage (called an Intranet), video updates, executive communications, and all company meetings or town halls.

If you are interested in learning more about how The Outstanding Company can support your people and talent operations initiatives or need guidance on how to structure your Human Capital Management team, contact us here.

Managing Millennial and Gen Z Employees

Managing Millennial and Gen Z Employees

In today’s world, you may manage people with vastly different needs, values, and expectations, which are largely influenced by generational differences. Challenges may arise when managing people in a different generation than you, and this blog will help managers navigate the needs of the younger workforce.

We’ll focus on Gen Y.1 (“Millennials,” age 25-29) and Gen Z (currently ages up to 24) in this blog post since they are the newest to the workforce and are perplexing their managers of earlier generations.

It’s important to remember that what people want out of their employer is a reflection of their life experience. The world that Millennials and Gen Z have grown up in is very different from that of Gen X and Baby Boomers who came before them.

  • Millennials and Gen Zers have spent most or all of their life using and learning new technology, especially smart devices.
  • They have experienced two of the worst recessions in history (The Great Recession in 2008 and the COVID-19 Pandemic) and their jobs were greatly impacted by both.
  • They are burdened with student loans and are facing all-time highs for costs of living.

Earlier generations can be bewildered by behaviors that Millenials and Gen Zers express because it’s different from the working culture they thrived in during their early careers. Despite these surprises, it’s important not to write them off as immature or entitled behaviors of the younger generations. By recognizing their unique drives and needs, you can keep younger employees more engaged and reduce conflict between managers and the employees they supervise.

While Millennials and Gen Z are two distinct groups and their needs and drives vary somewhat, many of their top values in the workplace overlap. Here’s a list of the top five factors and strategies you can implement to meet these needs.

Competitive compensation and benefits

As mentioned above, everything is very expensive these days. Millennials and Gen Zers are often not making much money since they are exploring or just settling into a career path, and don’t have the purchasing power of older generations because of steep inflation and increased costs of living. So it makes sense that they are eager for competitive salaries. When sharing the salary range with a candidate, also explain the employee review process, what a typical annual raise is, how often promotions occur, and if there is a bonus target for that role.

These days, employees are also looking for a strong benefits package that includes medical and dental insurance, paid vacation and sick time, paid parental leave, and a retirement match. Highlight the components of your compensation and benefits plan on your company careers webpage and share a detailed package with a candidate when you make them an offer.

Quick promotions

This goes hand-in-hand with how they value money, but also shows up for another reason. The heart of the matter is that many younger workers get bored easily. Now, that may sound like a negative thing, but it’s really not. These employees grew up learning information so quickly with technology and experienced rapid change that they have become used to that fast pace of life and expect to see it play out in their work environment, too.

If it’s too early to promote an employee but they are outgrowing their role, try offering some of these ideas to keep them challenged and engaged. 


  • Additional ad-hoc projects they can be compensated for.
  • Work in two-week sprints that have specific short-term goals that roll into larger team goals. This will allow employees to improve processes and try new tactics.
  • Crossfunctional team initiatives that colleagues can lead and work on with others to accomplish organizational goals.


Gen Y.2 (Millennials ages 30-39) are already raising families, owning homes, and supporting their aging parents, and Gen Y.1 (Millennials ages 25-29) are also beginning to do those things. Hire employees you trust and then give them the flexibility to do their work the best way it suits them as long as it doesn’t conflict with other company needs. Increasing these employees’ autonomy and flexibility will yield better results than forcing them to work on a tight schedule that no longer aligns with their life.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation to-date, and also the most well-educated. Coming of working age in a time of political and social unrest, they demand more from their employer. This includes having action-oriented Employee Resources Groups (ERGs) as well as policies, procedures, and leaders that reinforce the company’s ideals.

  • If you are a smaller company with limited resources in the People Operations or Human Resources department, budget funds to hire a DEI Consultant to improve your company policies and culture.
  • Provide cultural sensitivity and implicit bias training for all employees.
  • Fund learning and development initiatives related to DEI, such as reimbursements for books and workshops.
  • Elect Executive Sponsors for ERGs and set structures and goals for each group. Ensure that the ERGs engage with the Human Resources department to offer feedback and suggestions for making the company more inclusive.

Doing work with a greater purpose

These generations want to make a difference, which may be straightforward at organizations like non-profits or mission-driven companies. Other companies can implement these practices to offer more value to employees.

  • Quarterly team community engagements
  • Paid time off designated for volunteering
  • Employee Resources Groups where employees can make a difference within the company
  • Matching employee donations to charities or offering a stipend to each employee to donate to the charity of their choice

Contact me if you are looking to learn how The Outstanding Company can provide more guidance on navigating generational differences in your workplace.

Reduce bias and discrimination in your workplace with The Predictive Index

Reduce bias and discrimination in your workplace

The Predictive Index enables you to hire fairly, promote equitably, and unlock every employees’ true potential.

As humans, we all have biases towards one another.Throughout our lives, we have gathered information from our families, teachers, communities, workplaces, and the media that we consume. Our brains have so much information to process so they take shortcuts to make decisions easier, and one of those shortcuts is creating and listening to unconscious biases. Unconscious biases are learned stereotypes that are automatic, unintentional, deeply ingrained, and able to influence behavior. Because of unconscious bias, the judgments our brains make are not always true and the decisions it makes aren’t always the best.

Spending time to notice what your biases are, where they come up, and how to unlearn them is an important part of eliminating discrimination in the workplace. In addition to your own learning, The Predictive Index talent optimization solutions can help make decisions more objective and reduce biased decision-making. Eliminating biased decisions is critical to reducing discrimination in the workplace and creating a culture where all people are welcome, included, valued, and given opportunities to learn and grow.

Biases, which are often unconscious, show up in the workplace in the recruitment process, employee development and coaching, promotion pipeline and succession planning, and performance management. If biases are not acknowledged and processes are not put in place to eliminate biased thinking and decision making, employees can be treated unfairly and may be discriminated against. This creates a competitive, anxious, and hostile environment.

Biases can be related to many factors, such as protected classes (age, gender, sex, race, sexual orientation, pregnancy, ability, national origin, and religion) or they can be related to other factors that we have our own opinions on, such as weight, attire and appearance, home zip code, mode of transportation, and education. Other common unconscious biases include:

  • Affinity bias in which we favor individuals who have similarities to ourselves.
  • Attribution bias is when we credit our successes to our merit and hard work, and our failures to external factors, but credit other people’s successes to luck and their failures to their personality or own shortcomings.
  • Conformity bias occurs when a group of individuals you are working with unconsciously sways your opinion.
  • Confirmation bias is when you unconsciously seek out, focus on, and remember information from someone that confirms your existing beliefs and opinions.
  • The Halo effect is a bias where you focus on one great thing about someone, such as their education or one professional success story, and let it positively influence everything else that they say or do. In contrast, the Horns effect is the opposite and occurs when you focus on one negative fact about someone and let it negatively impact everything else about them.

The PI Behavioral Assessment (BA) collects data from an individual to create a unique behavioral report that explains this person’s drives, needs, and general temperament. The PI Cognitive Assessment (CA) measures the rate at which an individual can process and learn new information. Paired together, these assessments are strong indicators of job success when used correctly. 

The PI Job Assessment allows a team of stakeholders to select a series of skills, cognitive abilities, and temperaments required to do a specific job at your company. The software aggregates this data to create a Job Target that you can use when hiring for a new role or promoting an internal candidate. By aligning your candidates BAs and CAs with the Job Target, you can identify the best candidates for that role.

There is a visual layover that shows how the candidate’s BA compares to the Job Target BA, as well as a behavioral, cognitive, and overall match score on a scale of 1-10. This tool is extremely helpful for determining the people who are best suited for the job from a small candidate pool or a larger pool. In the current job market, hundreds of candidates may be applying for a single role, and the data from the Job Target can help you objectively determine which candidates to invite to continue with the interview process. Using the Job Target and candidate’s Behavioral Assessment, the PI software also creates unique coaching questions for internal hires and a behavioral interview guide for external candidates.

Recruiters, managers, and other interviewers often make a decision about a candidate based on their “gut feel,” which is typically rooted in their unconscious biases. By leveraging the PI Behavioral and Cognitive Assessments, Job Assessment, Job Target, and interview guides, your interview team can make more objective hiring decisions.

While the PI platform doesn’t solve social injustice, it can – and does – remove bias in the workplace. It enables you to hire fairly, promote equitably, and unlock every employees’ true potential. 

If you are ready to take the next step in eliminating bias and discrimination in your workplace, contact me so we can work on a customized plan for you to implement.

Increase team transparency and productivity

Increase team transparency and productivity

Chances are at some point in your career you have worked with other professionals who you didn’t work well with, who you thought didn’t like you, or who got on your own nerves. While people present with behaviors and personality traits that you may or may not like, beneath those layers are their unique drives and needs.

The Predictive Index (PI) talent optimization solutions can shine a light on each employee’s differences, and The Outstanding Company can show you and your colleagues how to leverage your unique traits to build a strong team, divide projects to the person best-suited for the assignment, work through conflicts, and maximize your talent.

Why people behave the way they do

The PI Behavioral Assessment collects data from an individual and measures their drive for dominance, extraversion, patience, and formality. These four factors tell a lot about a person, such as whether they like to lead a team or contribute as a team member, think out loud and work with other people or have more time to process alone, perform routine tasks or have a variety of projects, and have clear guidelines and details or are comfortable with ambiguity.

Picture this: you like to receive a lot of information prior to beginning a project and will procrastinate starting something until you have all the details, but your manager is someone who works well with ambiguity and therefore assigns projects with little direction. Neither of these traits is wrong or right, they just simply are, but without recognizing these predictive behaviors the likelihood that you and your manager will experience tension and discord while working together is very high.

By acknowledging and accepting your needs in the workplace and recognizing the needs of your manager and teammates, you can have a productive dialogue about how to best work together. In this example, you can let your manager know when you need more information to accomplish a project, and they can recognize why you may be slow to start a project rather than getting frustrated with you or feel like you are underperforming. Your manager can also provide additional career development to help you work on projects that are more aligned with your needs.

Implementing a process that creates a productive and cohesive team

First, you and your team will all take a 6-minute free-choice assessment that asks about your personality traits. Once you take this PI Behavioral Assessment, you will each receive a report and a visual pattern, called a reference profile, that highlights your drives and explains how these drives influence your behavior in the workplace. Through virtual or in-person training, The Outstanding Company will help you and your team navigate the nuances of each pattern and will teach you to understand each other’s behaviors in relation to your Behavioral Assessment results.

It’s also important to use the PI tools when you are adding a new employee to your team, whether it is an internal or external hire. That person should take the Behavioral Assessment and the team manager or other PI implementation expert at the company should take the time to explain what it means to the candidate.

Using the Team Work Styles tool in the software, you can look at a visual grid of how each of your employees will work together and which of four areas they will have a tendency towards: teamwork & employee experience, innovation & agility, results & discipline, and process & precision. You can plug-in the candidate to your team’s chart to see how they would align with the team or which new skills they would be contributing. This tool can help predict areas of conflict that you can discuss before it happens and prevent friction on your team.

Keep it going

Just like everything else in life, if you don’t use it, you lose it. 

Once your team is trained on the PI factors and language and everyone understands one another’s drives and needs, make sure you are revisiting these conversations regularly so that you don’t end up back at square one. The Outstanding Company offers our clients quarterly tune-up meetings to review how you are using The Predictive Index solutions and provide guidance on areas for improvement. 

You can also get into the habit of looking at colleagues’ reference profiles as part of your meeting preparation – this will help you determine if you should have a detailed agenda, leave lots of time for discussion, send reading materials out in advance, and how you lead the meeting. Many PI clients choose to print their reference profiles out and post them next to their desk (or in this virtual world – on their company intranet page, instant messenger, and video chat profiles) so others can get familiar with their working style. 

Read this blog for more team building exercises to maintain your team’s strength, and contact me if you are ready to learn more about how The Outstanding Company can increase transparency and productivity on your team.

Team building activities for a remote workforce

Team building activities for a remote workforce

Trust is the foundation of all high-performing teams, and without it, everything and everyone suffers. Without trust, team culture will naturally evolve into a competitive, anxious, finger-pointing cloud of frustration, hurt feelings, and half-executed projects.

But how do you get trust? It’s not something you can force on a team, and it’s not something you can order online. Trust takes time and effort to build and can be more difficult to establish when the majority of your employees work remotely. Even when teams have built trust, they must keep nurturing it.

Tips for Low-Trust Teams

Okay, so you’re not exactly where you’d like to be. There’s a few quarrels happening between colleagues, disagreements on the direction of projects, mumbles in meetings, and results aren’t stacking up to where they need to be. You can fix this. 

Let me say that again: You. Can. Fix. This.

Get to know each other personally so you can all see each other as whole people, rather than a bunch of employees who are just working at the same company. Here’s a few ideas you can do virtually or in-person:

  • Fun Fact Friday: Start every Friday morning with a short team meeting. Go around and share one thing you are proud you accomplished at work that week, and one fun fact about yourself or something you are looking forward to this weekend. Who knows, you might find out your colleague sings in a band or races cars as a hobby!
  • Monthly get-together: Spend dedicated time with your team at least once a month without having the focus be on work. Go to a happy-hour together, volunteer, have a virtual soiree where you get to meet each other’s partners or pets, host a book club discussion, or play games together. The Jackbox virtual games have become very popular with the recent shift to remote life.
  • Relationship Guide: Part of getting to know your colleagues is getting to know how you relate to them and can work together. The Predictive Index (PI) Relationship Guide will show areas of strength, weakness, and predicted challenges between two employees. Team members can refer to this guide to navigate their meetings, discussions, and projects to improve productivity and reduce conflict. Since they are working from insights generated by data, both people are leveraging the same information to improve their working relationship, rather than relying on their assumptions or judgments about each other.
  • Use a MOCHA project plan. This plan, explained below, clarifies roles for projects so that everyone involved can agree to the plan and then hold each other and themselves accountable for that work. 
    • Manager: Assigns responsibility and holds the Owner accountable.
    • Owner: Has the overall responsibility for the success or failure of the project and holds other contributors accountable for accomplishing their work on time.
    • Consulted: Asked for input related to the project.
    • Helper: Assists with or does some of the project tasks.
    • Approver: Signs off on decisions before they are final. This person may also be the Manager, or it could be an Executive, Board Member, or external stakeholder.

Create this plan at the beginning of every cross-functional or collaborative project, and be sure to distribute it to everyone on the team. You can also use an online project management tool like Asana or Trello to assign more specific tasks to individuals.

Tips for High-Trust Teams

Congratulations – your people trust each other! Things are already better than you think they are, because trust is the backbone of everything else that has to be done in a timely manner. It’s very likely that your team moves fast, so making time to continue to reinforce trust is important. In addition to the suggestions above, here are other team building ideas for high-trust teams.

  • Employee of the Month: Once a month, select a team member to be “Employee of the Month.” Ask team members to submit their nominations and share why they are nominating that individual. If your company has a culture code, ask team members to align their submission with one aspect of the culture (such as teamwork or transparency). Since your team is already cohesive, you will likely receive submissions for several people so different employees can be selected each month. It will give the team a chance to celebrate one another. You may even decide to throw in a prize for the Employee of the Month, such as a gift card to a café or an extra half-day of paid time off.
  • Personal Development Plan: The Predictive Index (PI) Personal Development Plan highlights an individual’s strengths and caution areas for four traits: dominance, extraversion, patience, and formality. It also provides coaching tips to improve how they work with other employees. Ask your team to print their Personal Development Plan and select one strength and one caution. Schedule a team meeting and let everyone share their strength, caution, and how they may modify their behavior when working with others. Then others can chime in to reinforce the need for this behavior adjustment or let their teammate know they are already doing a great job at this. It’s helpful for the team manager to kick things off and allow employees to provide feedback before everyone else takes their turn.

Contact The Outstanding Company here for additional coaching on team building and to learn how to implement The Predictive Index solutions on your team.

Tips to successfully manage a remote team

Tips to successfully manage a remote team

Editor’s note: Dr. Greg wrote this article in 2019. We’ve updated it to help our readers lead and manage remote teams amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Highly-engaged virtual teams don’t grow on trees. There are a lot of dynamics at play, including managing different work styles, a lack of direct supervision, and a significant amount of trust—not to mention technology challenges. From the perspective of an executive with a decade of experience working remotely and managing remote teams, here are some key lessons to learn from:

Understand what drives your remote employees.

As a remote leader, you don’t get a chance to spend time interacting in-person with your employees and discovering what makes them tick. A workplace behavioral assessment—such as the PI Behavioral Assessment™—can give you a wealth of information about your employees’ drives, needs, and natural work style. It will help you understand how they like to work and be rewarded. For example, if you know someone has a low degree of extraversion, it might be OK to contact them infrequently. On the other hand, if an employee has high extraversion, you might want to spend more time interacting with them—even if it’s grabbing a cup of coffee over Zoom. Especially now, when your employees are feeling uncertainty and fear, it’s all the more important to communicate and support your people in meaningful ways.

Check-in on their emotional state.

The psychological impact of a pandemic and downturn isn’t something you can ignore as a people manager. Yes, you should check-in on their workload and projects—but you should also check-in on their emotions. Don’t be afraid to ask your people, “How are you feeling emotionally?” As Josh Bersin said, “In today’s world, the CEO has to be the Chief Care Officer first.” And the same goes for managers. In a crisis think people first. Are you doing all you can to support and lift up your team?

Dial-up the self-awareness.

When faced with extra pressure, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and let the negative thoughts flow. But if you’re the best version of yourself, you can lead your team through any crisis. Look deep inside—leverage your last review if you have one. Be aware of your weaknesses and continue to keep them under control to set a great example for your direct reports.

Manage for substance, not adherence to a 9-5 schedule.

One of the top reasons employees enjoy remote work is they can fit work into their lifestyle. Whether they have morning childcare duties, like to workout midday, or serve as a caregiver for a family member, working from home can offer flexibility that allows them to live their life while still making a living. That’s why a general best practice is don’t judge your employee based on their adherence to a 9-to-5 schedule. Instead, evaluate remote performance on what they’re able to produce—not how they produce it. But right now, employees need even more schedule flexibility. Mandatory school and workplace closures mean your people will be trying to be productive in spite of interruptions from kids, partners, roommates, and pets. Be cognizant and empathetic. 

Don’t be a helicopter boss.

Each person on your team has a different rhythm and workflow. Don’t micromanage it. A huge key to the success of remote teams is trust. Trust that your employees are doing their job, even if their workflow isn’t the same as yours. (Of course, if an employee has abused that trust, a different conversation must take place.) This means not using little check-in tricks to see if they’re working or not early in the morning or throughout the day. These types of “gotchas” destroy trust and create ambiguity. 

Build a communication rhythm.

When conversations go from in-office to remote, it’s extra important to communicate. Remote employees need clarity, communication, and connectedness—now more than ever.  Keep them looped in—and engaged—with daily team standups, weekly manager/employee one-on-ones, and weekly team meetings. To avoid communication overwhelm, try to aggregate all the important announcements and updates in one place (an employee newsletter works well). You can even use the Donut app to randomly match employees across the company for virtual coffee or schedule a group video chat where remote team members can “meet” each other’s pets! Of course, when it comes to extracurriculars like these, be clear these activities are optional. 

Set clear expectations for remote workers.

Many of the steps above require a healthy dose of trust that your remote employees are doing the right things—even if they’re doing it their way.  However, this doesn’t mean they’re running the show. It’s important to set and communicate clear expectations about how you’ll judge their work performance and any practices, guidelines, or updates you, as a manager, need to see. For example, if you really need people to tell you when they’ll be away from their computers longer than an hour, communicate these requirements clearly from the outset.

Connect with collaboration tools.

As frustrating as technology can be at times, it’s amazing how well technology can keep employees connected and engaged. Social tools like Slack, Facebook Workplace, and Microsoft Teams allow for everyday interactions and communication. Real-time collaboration tools like Google Docs, Asana, Trello, and Basecamp allow teams to collaborate across time zones and manage projects in one easy-to-access place. Right now, your company is likely cutting discretionary spending—but while some leaders could see social tools as frivolous, they might be critical to maintaining your culture and team relationships. Can your employees chat as fluidly as they would in office without social tools? Will they stay connected without them? Don’t underestimate the power of things like emojis, random GIFs, and off-topic channels like music, books, and even cats.  

Bring the team together.

As the evidence suggests, remote work can work really well. But it’s also important to bring your team together and create lasting, in-person relationships and memories. Of course, meeting physically in the real world isn’t possible at the moment—but there are still ways to bring the team together virtually. If your team already has a good foundation of trust, try this activity: have everyone create a timeline off-line then schedule a video call where each person talks their team through the key moments in their life. If your team doesn’t have a strong foundation yet, try this word cloud activity to build team bonds. 

The real key to successful remote teams is to create trust.

Ultimately, many of these tips are about creating trust between you and your remote employees. Let them flourish in their own way—and always stay connected, communicating, and aligned.

How to increase team cohesion in the workplace

How to Increase Team Cohesion in the Workplace

A quick Google search for “how to increase team cohesion” yields 14.5 million search results.

How to Increase Team Cohesion Google Search Results

If there’s so much information out there about teamwork and collaboration, why do so many teams still struggle with cohesion among group members?

Because knowledge without application is useless. And to truly apply a lot of the ideas in these articles—give feedback, be transparent, build trust, communicate effectively, etc.—you must first understand who you’re working with.

That understanding depends on an input most managers don’t have: workplace behavioral data. This data tells you what drives employees at work—and what makes them hate their job or clash with co-workers. Without this information, it’s nearly impossible to create a successful team.

Think of it this way: You’re drafting for a sports team but can only pick your team based on how your prospects look. You don’t know what their strengths or weaknesses are—or even whether they’re offensive or defensive players. That’s what building teams is like without data to drive the process. 

The good news is it’s not terribly difficult to obtain this information. A simple behavioral assessment will help you learn more about who’s on your team so you can better align employees with the team’s goals—and prevent interpersonal conflict.

Start with alignment

Your team needs to be united around a common goal. Otherwise, each member will go off to do their work—and end up in wildly different places. And research shows individual efforts don’t perform as well as team ones.

Get your team together to gain alignment on what’s a priority. What’s the team’s goal? This alignment will get everyone rowing in the same direction—and increase team performance as a result.

Get the right players on the team.

Once you know what your goal is, you need to make sure you have the right team in place to achieve results.

This starts with getting an understanding of who’s currently on your team. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What comes naturally to them and what requires them to stretch outside their comfort zone?

Then, map each individual member’s strengths against what your team needs to achieve its goals. For example, if a member of your team is great at creating and automating processes, they’d be a natural fit for maximizing team efficiency.

If you use the PI software, you can use Team Work Styles to plot employees against the activities that are critical to your team’s success.

The screenshot above displays the makeup of an existing team. You’ll notice that four team members border the edge of the Teamwork & Employee Experience quadrant. This means they share behavioral traits that would make them a good fit for increasing team cohesion and helping to develop employees. These would be great people to spearhead an initiative to improve teamwork and team relations.

If there are gaps between your employees’ strengths and what’s needed to achieve your goals, you’ll need to fill them outside the team. Why? Because while your employees can stretch themselves to meet the need in the short-term, it becomes exhausting over time. Imagine you’re right-handed and asked to write with your left on a daily basis. You could do it, but it wouldn’t feel natural and it would take more effort than simply writing with your dominant hand.

To fill the role, you might look internally to see who’s behaviorally wired for those types of activities. For example, maybe your marketing team is fast-moving and creative, but in need of someone to analyze data to determine which marketing efforts are most successful. You might lean on someone from your operations or business intelligence teams to provide that skill and insight. Alternatively, you could look at hiring someone new to join or support the team.

Use behavioral data to improve interpersonal relationships.

Every manager has had to resolve conflict between two team members. The cause of this discord often comes down to how we’re wired. If you have two employees approach work differently, yet they frequently work together, conflict is inevitable.

Take, for example, an employee who loves to innovate, generate ideas, and test hypotheses. Those employees play a necessary role in innovation for your organization! But if you have another employee on the team who likes structure, process, and finer details … you’ve got two diametrically opposed people!

That’s not to say these employees can’t work harmoniously together. Rather, it requires learning and understanding the differences in how employees think, work, and communicate to achieve that social cohesion.

In this case, the innovative employee might use self-awareness to slow down and create a project plan before taking off running. They might even take it a step further and ask the more detail-oriented person to comb over their plan for anything they may have missed. This is leveraging the behavioral strengths of both employees—while also teaching them how to better work together.

Give managers tools to tailor their leadership style.

Have you ever been on a team where the manager favored certain team members more than others? Sometimes it’s easier to get along with people who are more like you—that’s poor management.

Managers set the tone for the team. They need to be able to tailor their leadership style to fit the needs of all their employees—not just the ones that think and act like them. This applies to giving feedback, communicating changes to the team’s strategy, and team development.

To do this effectively, managers need to understand the differences in how their employees think, work, and act. Again, behavioral assessments can provide these insights.

If you use PI, you can use the Management Strategy Guide (shown below) to generate a custom report on how best to manage an employee.

Understand what’s driving the team to perform.

Beyond what managers and team members can do to improve team cohesion, it’s important to note what’s promoting employee engagement.

Using an employee experience survey (such as the PI Employee Experience Survey™), you can get a benchmark of what’s engaging and disengaging employees—not only across the organization, but also at the team level. This can provide valuable insight into what’s negatively impacting your team’s ability to be a cohesive group.

For example, maybe your team struggles with communication, and this is impacting how engaged they feel. This could be the result of not tailoring communication to the recipient, providing too much communication, having too many communication channels, or making frequent changes that aren’t communicated well.

From there, you can take steps to address disengagement within the team. (The PI Employee Experience Survey includes a personalized action plan to help you move in the right direction, as shown below.)

Team cohesion is multi-faceted.

While team-building exercises and similar activities can help cultivate trust and relationships among teammates, creating cohesion is multi-faceted. It has to start at the foundational level and address each component individually.

Because, at the end of the day, even trust falls can’t rectify misalignment and clashing personalities.