Best crisis managers are not what you would expect
The most effective crisis managers show strong preferences for variety at work and keep their cool when operating outside of their comfort zones says a study presented today at the BPS Division of Occupational Psychology in Nottingham. It also found those who demonstrate more self-discipline and stick to the rules are considered less effective at dealing with a crisis.
Lead researcher from assessment consultancy Cubiks Christine D’Silva said: “In a crisis situation, things change at a rapid pace, with new information arriving at any time. Decisions that have far reaching consequences need to be made within short timeframes. Our research, using simulations to recreate these stressful and tense scenarios, suggests that those who retain their cool whilst operating outside their comfort zones, and are comfortable with ambiguous situations, are more effective crisis managers.”
The research, a preliminary and exploratory study, was established to determine whether psychological assessments, such as PAPI, could be of benefit in selecting and training candidates for a role in crisis management. 82 participants took part in disaster simulation exercises and were asked to complete a series of personality questionnaires. Then they were assessed on their performance by experts.
The results from the study confirm that personality assessment can make a useful contribution to identifying and training crisis management personnel. The key areas to assess are leadership, extraversion and emotional stability. Furthermore, specific predictor scales, including those assessing ‘variety seeking’, ‘self-discipline’ and ‘need for rules’ enhance prognosis.
Christine D’Silva said: “In our strained world, the threat of attack on organisations and public safety is ever present. The potential threats to life and livelihood posed by natural disasters, man made errors and acts of terrorism appear to be well appreciated. Until now, the calibre of the person who is most suited to managing these unpredictable situations has been less well understood.”
The Division of Occupational Psychology annual conference takes place from the 6 to 8 January 2015 at the East Midlands Conference Centre, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RJ.