How to use Profiling for Success Tools

Traditional Questionnaires (completed by one person) Pros and Cons

Why are single versions (self report) valuable?

(i.e. the traditional way of inviting a person to reflect about themselves)

Advantages – self report allows people to

  • articulate their ‘self narrative’ – people often find it hard to ‘describe’ themselves.
  • gather together many thoughts and ideas – people have lots of ideas and insights about themselves but do not find it easy to join some dots; questionnaires provide a coherent structure.
  • make comparisons with others – people’s view of themselves is self-referenced; a questionnaire provides feedback on how others report on the same questions.

Disadvantages – can self report really:

  • identify true values – are people sufficiently self-aware; do they walk the talk.
  • measure your emotional intelligence – how can self-report indicate self-awareness since we cannot be aware of what we are unaware!
  • describe how I come across – self report is a lens people have developed from a complex mix of managing the people and the world they inhabit (now and in the past).
  • provide a measure the quality or effectiveness – which by definition has two parties with potentially differing perceptions?

Paired Questionnaires (completed by 2 people) Pros and Cons

Why are paired versions valuable?

(i.e. the inviting a person to compare their own view with a carefully selected ‘other’)

Advantages – paired versions have all the advantages of single self report plus it:

  • can make the self report component more honest and insightful – the process of nominating a challenger often makes the person more reflective, searching and honest when answering the questionnaire.
  • creates a better climate for change – the process is much more intimate than multi-rater feedback, especially if great care is taken in choosing the ‘challenger’. The person becomes more receptive and hence more likely to change and develop.
  • provides impactful reports – seeing both views in an easy to read format means the individual can easily identify areas of greatest interest.
  • is quick and easy-to-use – the simplicity of the online process makes it easy to implement.

Disadvantages – paired versions can:

  • take a little longer – since co-ordinating 2 people is harder than just one.
  • be threatening – people are not always ready to receive feedback from others.
  • fail to generalise – the view of the selected ‘challenger’ may reflect the specifics of that relationship and hence be skewed positively or negatively.

360 Questionnaires (completed by many people) Pros and Cons

Why are Multi-rater (or 360) versions valuable?

(i.e. the inviting a person to compare their own view with multiple ‘others’)

Advantages – multi-rater feedback can

  • challenge a person’s beliefs about themselves – provides direct feedback about how a person comes across to different constituents.
  • identify flexibility (or inconsistency) – people change their behaviour according to context which is sometimes appropriate – but not always.
  • provide feedback that may be generalisable – some feedback is limited by the nature of a particular circumstance or relationship and so averaging this across multiple persons can sometimes counteract ‘outlier’ feedback.

Disadvantages – multi-rater feedback can be:

  • too public – feedback from people who may not have your best interest at heart can be threatening and this is not always conducive to change and development.
  • too bland – people’s perceptions are limited; they are not always fully truthful or honest and some are poor at judging others or simply do not know the person well enough.
  • overdone – 12 people receiving feedback from 12 ‘others’ means 144 questionnaires – which introduces ‘questionnaire fatigue’ whereby the feedback is diminished.
  • unsolicited – feedback can be from people whose opinions are not valued or who may have other non-developmental agendas.