How my company gives me super powers

June 27, 2017
6 minute read
Last updated June 13, 2019

The Predictive Index put this simple practice into place in 2014, and it gives everyone in the organization insights into co-workers that employees at other companies simply don’t have.

You’ve played the game. We all have. “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?”

Being able to fly like Superman? Becoming instantly invisible? Time travel? Then there’s this one: The capability to be able to read someone else’s mind.

You’ve played the game. We all have. “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?”

Being able to fly like Superman? Becoming instantly invisible? Time travel? Then there’s this one: The capability to be able to read someone else’s mind.

That’s the one I’ve always really wanted to have. Imagine being able to actually answer that age-old question: What were they thinking?

At The Predictive Index (PI), the executive team put a simple policy in place several years back that helps get PI employees closer to having that kind of superpower. And they did it with a simple onboarding process involving placards. As a new employee here, I immediately noticedit, because I’d never worked anyplace else with something like it.

Let me explain how it works.

Every candidate that goes through the hiring process at PI takes the PI Behavioral Assessment™ (as well as the PI Cognitive Assessment™) before they ever make it in the door for an interview. This is done to ensure someone’s behavioral drives align well with what’s needed in the role. (It turns out that people are surprisingly awful at inferring these motivations during the interview process.) The output of the Behavioral Assessment is a pattern that reveals the person’s behavior and how it is dictated by these four driving factors:

  • Dominance
  • Extraversion
  • Patience
  • Formality

Through decades of development and analysis, data scientists whittled our motivational drives down to a small number of distinct elements. You can think of the PI as being a bit like the Big Five personality factors—except the four PI factors are specific to workplace behaviors that explain people’s day-to-day approach to their jobs.

Historically, companies have used the PI Behavioral Assessment™ for candidate assessment. More and more, however, companies are using these assessments with existing employees to help managers better understand how to work with their team members. Some companies are even using the assessment tools to do cultural audits of sorts.

Here at PI, the company’s executive team decided to take things a step further. Every single employee’s behavioral pattern placard is pinned up on his or her cubicle or office wall in plain site for anyone approaching his desk. When a new employee starts, their laminated placard is hanging by their desk when they come in on day one.

Here’s mine:Update_ThadPattern.jpg

As someone walks by my desk, they instantly see my behavioral pattern. They have the superpower of knowing what drives me. And when I walk over to their work area, I have that same superpower.

The massive benefit here—especially for those adept at altering their communication style based on someone’s drives—is that it’s a blueprint for how to communicate with someone staring you right in the face as you approach them.

PI’s VP of Product Development Dr. Matt Poepsel and I got to catch up on camera about how these placards help him as a manager.



Jackie Dube heads up PI’s HR function. Here’s what she says about making people’s patterns visible to everyone: “The benefits are endless – each person is aware of the motivating needs and behaviors of each other so you can adjust your interactions to fit within that.”

“When we purchased PI, we thought it was a great (and visible) way to share PI knowledge,” explains Mike Zani, PI’s CEO, who purchased PI with his business partner, Daniel Muzquiz, in late 2014. “It has helped make the language and framework around PI go cultural within our organization. Cultural adoption is the holy grail. It helps people understand each other and work and manage to each other’s respective preferences and meet each other’s needs.”

Mike says he uses these placards to full advantage. “I always think about a person’s pattern before I communicate with them,” he explains. “I have my direct reports’ patterns memorized and most of their people as well, but when I approach a person that I don’t work with regularly, it gives me a quick visual clue as to how to communicate with them. It helps me modify my approach so as to be more successful with whatever we are working on or communicating about. Here’s a great example of this: When I approach someone with ‘high patience’ and I am about to interrupt their workflow, I try to turn around, go back to my office and send them an email or IM and ask them to interrupt me when they have a moment. As someone who is very low patience, I can be interrupted pretty much whenever, whereas they prefer bringing project to a close. This plays to both our respective preferences, but it requires me to modify my initial approach.”

By the way, we can all see Mike’s pattern too. And understanding what drives the boss is pretty helpful in any organization.

Zani-Placard.jpg

Jill’s on my team. Here’s what her pattern looks like:

Jills-Pattern-3.jpg

As her manager, it’s pretty darn helpful to know without even asking that Jill likes to have control and drive projects, she’s mildly extraverted, and she likes variety. It’s a constant reminder to me on how to best work with her given her behavioral wiring.

On some of our teams, people’s patterns are all over the place:

6-Placards.jpgAnd as the new guy at the office, having everyone’s behavioral patterns literally printed out and staring me in the face as I go to talk to people is akin to having a communications coach whispering in my ear as I form relationships with my new coworkers.

An interesting thing you learn when you have this information visible to you is how utterly incompetent we are about inferring people’s motivational drives on our own. Believe it or not, it’s easyeven commonto mistake an introvert for an extravert and an impatient person for a patient one. As Dr. Matt puts it, without data, we’re just guessing.

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So there you have it. My new employer gives me (and all its employees) superpowers. Oh, and I can bring my dog to work. I think I’m going to like this place.

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