Time to emphasise the science in social science

by Contributor10 Aug 2017

It's vital that HR and OD practitioners have access to valid and reliable tools on management, teams and organisational culture - otherwise it's impossible to take an accurate pulse of the company. Michael Gourley reports

“Too often in social science the emphasis is placed on the social and not on the science,” says Michael Gourley, Director of Human Synergistics International (Asia/Pacific). He continues:“It is through measurement that science is able to progress.”

Creating a questionnaire is simple, but it is an entirely different story to be able to achieve statistical reliability and validity. Some questionnaires have little validity, yet leaders and HR personnel subscribe to them because they have limited knowledge about questionnaire construction. This is like being unable to differentiate between a fake or genuine Rolex watch.

Questionnaires need to be vigorously peer-reviewed to meet the highest academic levels, otherwise they do not meet the standard required for measurement (example of research reports). With Singapore’s focus on business innovation, there is a need for valid and reliable measures on leadership and organisational culture. Engagement surveys, for example, are not a measure of culture – they are a measure of an outcome of culture. 

Unless critical aspects of organisational behaviour can be defined and described precisely, the odds are that they cannot be changed. Through social science research, Human Synergistics has been able to decipher many of the influences related to excellence in organisational performance. By defining these critical attributes in cause and effect terms, it is possible to set out the reasons for effective and ineffective performance and provide prescriptions for change – otherwise, there will be a lack of certainty about how to progress. 

Accurate information is like having a GPS system compared to a magnetic compass to guide the way in terms of organisational change management. Reliable measures define an organisation’s current culture and pinpoint the specific “levers for change” to move an organisation towards the preferred culture, resulting in outcomes such as employee engagement, satisfaction and motivation, inter- and intra-unit cooperation, organisational adaptability, quality and customer satisfaction – long-term effectiveness at all levels of the organisation. 

Leaders also need diagnostic information that is meaningful on how they are progressing. This means moving beyond emotional intelligence (EQ). There is a dichotomy between EQ and CQ (Cognitive Quotient). Cognitive reasoning is more than IQ, which is related to academic intelligence and does not change much in adulthood. CQ involves the acquisition of knowledge, formation of attitudes and beliefs, and logical/deductive thinking, and continues to develop. Probably the most recognised skill in this regard is the ability to make decisions. Leaders learn to refine their skills in assessing information and trusting their intuition. 

This ability can be summed up as an achievement thinking style as measured by the LSI diagnostic tool. This is like having an RMI scan rather than just taking your pulse to assess your health. It is able to demonstrate that when the mind and emotions (CQ & EQ) are in sync, it allows for the flow of awareness, understanding and perceptiveness about issues and how to deal with people. 

Human Synergistics has found that through appropriate training and accreditation, valid and reliable tools on management, teams and organisational culture can be provided to HR and OD practitioners to help them develop talented leaders and constructive cultures in their organisations.