The Science Behind Teamscope

Our goal is to help organizations build stronger and more engaged teams. We do this through data. More specifically, our algorithm combines big data analytics with scientific testing to understand the deep-level characteristics of individuals, and uses machine learning to understand how these characteristics influence collaboration and performance in a team setting. Our data model combines findings from roughly 200 academic studies.

We rely on three basic frameworks to better understand people:

  • Broad-level competencies inspired by the research of McClelland (McClelland, 1973), Spencer (Spencer and Spencer, 1993), and others.

  • The Big 5 personality framework developed by Costa and McCrae (Costa and McCrae, 1995).

  • The Schwartz theory of universal human values (Schwartz et al, 2012).

How people fit into teams?

Fit Theory is an important cornerstone of team analytics and candidate assessment. Fit is defined in the organisational psychology literature (van Vianen, 2018) as the degree to which individual and organisational attributes are compatible. Fit can take two forms:

  • Supplementary fit - individual and environmental attributes are similar

  • Complimentary fit - individual attributes are complemented by the organizational environment

There are many types of environments where fit can occur. We are focused on person-team fit, which means the fit between individual attributes and those of the workgroup. Research has suggested (Kristof-Brown, et al., 2005) that person-team fit relates to attitudes towards peers, job attitudes, and organisational citizenship. On the other hand, values fit has been found to strengthen organisational culture, improve engagement, and help with employee retention.

Competencies

Competencies are the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are required to perform a job successfully.* Usually, there are a few core competencies that differentiate top performers in a given industry and job function.

Defining the critical competencies of a job and evaluating candidates' competencies in a methodical and structured manner is the most objective way to decide which candidates to shortlist. However, while competencies help to evaluate a candidate's ability to do the job, they do not help predict how a candidate would influence team dynamics.

The Teamscope competency framework is based on decades of research and is an important layer that ties together values, personality, and skills. Assessing all three aspects provides a complete overview of how a candidate might fit into a team and succeed in the role.

*In 1993, Lyle Spencer and Signe M. Spencer published their research in the book "Competence at Work”, which made competencies a popular research topic. They defined competencies as people's underlying characteristics, which indicate behaviours or thought processes that lead to superior job performance. They also described five types of competency characteristics: motives, traits, self-concept, knowledge, and skills.

Personality

Personality can be defined as a distinct pattern of behaviours that characterise each individual. Personality is considered to arise from within the individual and remains relatively consistent throughout a person’s life.

Personality assessment is often used to help people learn about themselves and their unique characteristics. Understanding your own personality traits and those of your teammates will help you leverage the individual strengths of each person on your team and support them in aspects they do not feel confident in. Making personality data visible to every team member will help you communicate better and create an environment where everyone can perform at their best.

At Teamscope we rely on the Big 5 personality model and research of professor Jüri Allik from the University of Tartu and his colleagues for the latest science on human personality.

The Big 5 personality model was popularised by research led by Paul Costa and Robert R. McCrae in the 1970s. Since then, the model has become the leading framework used in virtually every scientific study of human personality. In addition to the five personality traits (extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional range), research has also identified six unique facets of each personality dimension that are often more predictive of situation-specific behaviour (Costa, McCrae, 1995).

Big 5 personality dimension:

  • Extraversion indicates where an individual draws their energy and how they interact with others.

  • Agreeableness indicates how well people generally interact with others.

  • Conscientiousness indicates the way in which people control, regulate, and direct their impulses.

  • The emotional range is the extent to which a person's emotions are sensitive to the individual's environment.

  • Openness indicates a general appreciation for art, unusual ideas, imagination, curiosity, and variety of experience.

Values

If personality best represents how we typically behave in a given situation, then values describe the motivational basis of our attitudes and behaviour.

Teams that share similar values tend to be more cohesive, more engaged at work, and find it easier to reach consensus on important matters. Not surprisingly, candidates that share similar values with the team are up to four times more likely to stay with the company long-term.

We rely on the Schwartz theory of universal human values to understand what motivates each individual and how values and motivation influence teams. Developed by Shalom H. Schwartz (Schwartz, 2012), the theory defines values as intrinsic motivational goals that correspond to the following characteristics:

  • Values are beliefs that are inseparably linked to affect. When values are activated, they become infused with feeling;

  • Values refer to desirable goals that motivate action;

  • Values transcend specific actions and situations;

  • Values guide the selection or evaluation of actions, policies, people, and events;

  • Values are ordered by importance relative to one another;

  • The relative importance of multiple values guides behaviour.

Basic human values form a circular continuum that reflects the motivational conflict or compatibility among them. The more compatible any two values are, the closer they are on the circle; the more in conflict, the more distant they are.

While important values guide what people do, low importance values may influence what they do not do (Schwartz, et al., 2016). A single behaviour may be motivated by multiple values, and some behaviours are shaped by the trade-off between values that propel and those that oppose the behaviour.

Individuals strive to fit into their social setting, and shared values help to facilitate that process. Fit on high importance values is considered to have the most impact (Vogel, et al., 2015). Some studies (Schuh et al., 2016) have suggested that fit on low importance values also deserves attention because low importance values represent avoidance motivation.

Bringing it all together

Team relationships are complex, and there is no single comprehensive team performance theory, but most studies have concluded that:

  • Teams that share similar values tend to be more cohesive, engaged, and aligned towards a common goal, and candidates who share the team's core values are up to four times more likely to stay long-term

  • Teams with diverse personalities and competencies tend to be more innovative and agile, and generally achieve better results in highly dynamic environments

It sounds simple, but implementing these principles gets quite complex. Only calculating the team average of these characteristics is not sufficient – to understand team dynamics, we evaluate each interaction (user pair) in a team and compare how each team member and candidate influence the team as a whole. For even a small team of seven people, it adds up to thousands of data points.

In addition to the initial assessment, we gather feedback data from each team and use that to continuously look for new data patterns that help to refine our data model and offer additional insights for hiring and team development.