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Compete by assessing your recruits

October 16, 2018 -  By
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People tend to feel strongly about issues that are relevant or personally meaningful to them, their lives and their unique circumstances. When appropriately channeled, these feelings can be inspirational and motivational to others.

In the workplace, though, a person’s promotion and manifestation of strongly held beliefs can alienate other team members and cause friction. This tension is what Hayden McLaughlin proactively works to manage and reduce in his business. The owner of Belknap Landscape in Gilford, N.H., is continually on the lookout for unhealthy team dynamics that affect the strong internal culture he has tried for years to build and foster. As McLaughlin has discovered, this vigilance must begin well before a team member steps foot through the door for the first time.

One way the Belknap team identifies behavioral traits before bringing a candidate on the team is with a behavioral assessment. By requiring this assessment as part of the recruiting process, the company can determine which behavioral categories a prospective team member falls into. Belknap uses behavioral assessments during the recruiting process, and McLaughlin makes a point to revisit the results as often as needed during a team member’s tenure with the business.

“If we understand why others behave the way they do, we can be more tolerant of perspectives that are different from our own,” McLaughlin says.

Belknap uses the Activity Vector Analysis, but there are a wealth of options for businesses looking to implement a behavioral assessment tool. The most effective assessments determine where prospective recruits fall on the spectrum in five critical areas.


Assertive people willingly approach environments perceived as risky to reach goals. They tend to need to be directly confronted when situations arise, and subtlety does not work well. Communication with assertive people can pose a challenge because they often believe they possess authority and are highly motivated to have their points heard, acknowledged and addressed. Traits of assertiveness include impatience, self-centeredness, desire for change and fear of others taking advantage. While a degree of assertiveness is vital to every thriving team, leaving it unchecked can lead to issues down the line, as less assertive team members feel threatened or unheard. Still, some level of friction can be productive and even necessary.


Sociable people activate or approach environments perceived as favorable and involving others. Because sociable people are highly motivated to have others like them, they are apt to take it personally if they are excluded or not shown clear favor. Although personable, sociable people may not always be forthright and truthful to win favor and please others. Capitalizing on a social person’s enthusiasm is a good way to keep a conversation moving forward toward a specific, shared goal. Individuals with high sociability tend to be emotional, disorganized and strong collaborators, which can result in rich, innovative ideas that benefit the whole team. It’s important to help sociable team members take decisions in stride.


People who are calm remain patient and avoid environments involving unexpected change. They balk at fast-paced, aggressive actions and prefer to take a deliberate, moderate approach toward achieving a goal. The calmest people tend to be constant and steady in their approach. Communicating with a calm person requires avoiding pressing issues and rushing conversations or discussions. Focusing on known data and facts helps communicating with someone calm. While typically slow to embrace change and fearful of loss or security, calm people tend to be highly loyal. Belknap boasts a healthy employee retention rate owing to its commitment to keeping things even keel, especially for team members who do not fall on the calm side of the spectrum. “We take the emotion out of meetings and other business discussions as much as possible,” McLaughlin says.


Conformists are chameleons who often go to great lengths to avoid standing out. These people avoid unfavorable environments that increase the risk of criticism. Conformists seek many explanations to make sense of a situation. While not particularly revolutionary in their thinking or their actions, conformists are sensitive and intuitive. They also strive for accuracy, which makes them ideal candidates for technical or data-driven roles.

Conscious restraint

The person who shows conscious restraint does things with rational, intentional and careful forethought and consideration of the consequences their actions have on themselves and others. Logical, linear thinking is a hallmark of this category. These people do their utmost to uphold principles, values and standards, making them powerful allies in maintaining a strong internal culture. McLaughlin says the culture of his business is so important that he’s not willing to compromise on it.

As recruiting tools, behavioral assessments are becoming increasingly popular. One study estimates that at least 60 percent of major corporations use behavioral assessments as part of their decision-making process when hiring a candidate. The data from these assessments is invaluable for helping hiring managers determine where prospective team members fall on the behavior spectrum.

A behavioral assessment tool just might be the missing link that makes your team more competitive.

This article is tagged with and posted in 1018, Business Planner 2019
LM Staff

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