Using Behavioural Event Interviewing to Uncover Performance Issues

 In Chiara Giovanrosa, Performance Improvement, Rebecca Davies, Rod Nelson

Are you aware of the blind spots in your organisation and the true effect they are having on performance?

Commonly used as a technique by Human Resources to recruit new candidates, here at Churchill we have found Behavioural Event Interviewing is equally as powerful in determining current issues reflected in an organisations performance. The assumption that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour is particularly relevant in assessing employee’s attitudes toward areas of business performance.  Using this technique to diagnose problems can help the leadership team to target improvements in a way that employees are likely to best respond to, based on attitudes and culture. It focusses on uncovering new issues rather than looking for evidence of a previously identified issue.

Built around selected themes, Behavioural Event Interviewing focusses on the ‘Unknown’ quadrant of the Johari Window (illustrated below), drilling into the area of an employee’s relationship with themselves, other employees and the organisations that they were previously unaware of.

Targeting this area helps to uncover the root cause of the problem and identifies issues that may not have been apparent on the surface, in a way that traditional analysis fails to do.

How can you use this technique to drive results in your performance improvement programs?

In recent times, Churchill has found that many of our clients have reviewed their organisation structures and business models, implemented new processes and are still finding challenges with optimising performance, managing risk and aligning culture.  To addresses these challenges, Behavioural Event Interviewing techniques enable a deeper level of analysis to identify the true root cause.

The interview would probe relevant employees using a series of qualitative questions to gain insight into areas of performance that are unknown. Outputs of the interviews are collated to identify common themes or messages across the tested topics.  The analysis is supported by comments and evidence that may be gathered outside the interview and statistical analysis is conducted to provide a comparison of responses across the demographics.

For example, one area where Churchill has used this technique multiple times is to assess Health and Safety performance.  In this context, a recent client chose to test topics including ‘safety vs other aspects of the job’, ‘compliance with processes and procedures’, ‘risk-based decisions’ and ‘lessons learnt’.  The questions chosen for the interviews are open-ended, allowing for issues to be uncovered.  Examples, in this case, included questions such as:

  • Can you describe an occasion when you have had to make a choice between putting safety or restoration, cost, schedule first?
  • How would you use or have you seen used the information gained from incident investigations or site changes to improve design, procurement planning and work packages?

The outcomes of the interviews exposed an inconsistent level of operational discipline that was previously unknown, which could have contributed to an unacceptable level of risk being borne by the organisation.  Identifying this enabled an improvement program to be set up that focused on embedding the desired health and safety behaviours at all levels of the organisation.

HOW CHURCHILL CAN ASSIST YOUR ORGANISATION

The key to unlocking the real potential of an organisation lies in truly understanding employee attitudes and behaviour in situations where performance is lacking.

We are currently using the Behavioural Interviewing as a proven technique to assist a range of clients to improve their performance. By interviewing candidates across a range of roles, accountabilities, locations and lengths of service, we gain recommendations and actions to cover the full breadth of the business. We use a confidential approach to conduct the interviews to allow the candidates to freely express their thoughts, opinions and history with the issues, providing meaningful data which we use to develop real solutions for our clients to implement and improve their organisational performance.

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