Preference Assessments – What Are They Measuring?
There often is quite heated debate about what preference assessments are actually measuring. It tends to be a variation of the nature vs. nurture argument with passionate positions being taken on either side. For us we don’t take so much a nature vs. nurture perspective as trying to balance a psychological and social constructionist perspective. As an example, below is an excerpt from information that was sent to a group of people that were using our Team Management Profile. This information was sent along with their profile prior to distance debriefing.
…How you use your Team Management Profile (TMP) will determine how much value you can take from it. We will be talking about how to understand and use this data during the upcoming debrief sessions. There are a few things we would like to point out now however that you might find of value as read your profile.
The first thing is that our work lives emerge through the interactions we have. Nothing happens in an organization outside of our interactions. Our interactions are informed by both our experiences from the past and our intentions for the future.
As a new manager within your organization you will be experiencing new interactions, having new experiences and also adjusting your intentions for the future. Your success is critically dependent on the quality of the interactions you will now have. Your preferences and those of others will affect the quality of those interactions.
What is the TMP actually assessing?
The left hand loop in the diagram above is primarily where our preferences emerge. Over the course of our lives we have had countless experiences and we develop patterns of interaction that ‘work’ for us; that have become repetitive and preferred across numerous contexts. If when you read your TMP it resonates for you, it will be illustrating those patterns of behaviour that you recognize from your experiences and interactions of the past….
As you likely can tell from the above our position on what the TMP is measuring is weighted toward an interactive and constructionist perspective. We simply find this provides much better access to the data and avoids often low value arguments that detract from actually using the data to make sense of our interactions.
This perspective also means that behavior change, preference change is a real possibility. It may certainly be a challenge but it is definitely possible if we seek out and are present to new interactions. It brings a more active and engaged view to using the TMP, or any other preference instrument.
Over the course of the next few weeks we will be building on some other points about our perspective on what preference instruments are actually measuring and we invite you to come back to these posts and add your own thoughts and comments.
Author – Tom