By Frank Roman

“How do I find the right people for the job?” is probably one of the hardest questions a water treatment dealer has to answer. In most cases, the dealer isn’t of the size to have a human resources person or a psychologist on retainer. This is even more important as an in-home sales person is unique and finding the “right” person to fill the bill is, unquestionably, a difficult job. For this reason alone, a personal profile analysis system can be a great tool for a dealership.

It’s an age-old problem: how to pick the right people for the job—or putting the square peg in the round hole. Hippocrates addressed the problem as early as 460 B.C. with his theory known as Four Quadrant Behavior (4QB). The theory emerged as a way of quantifying behavioral styles. In 1928, Dr. William Moulton Marston, a Harvard professor, published the book The Emotions of Normal People in which he refined Hippocrates’ 4QB theory into the DISC theory. He termed the four quadrants as dominance, inducement, submission and compliance.

In 1950, five psychologists from Harvard University, one of whom was Dr. Thomas Hendrickson, developed an instrument called the Personal Profile Analysis (PPA) that can, with a high degree of accuracy, predict an individual’s performance in a given job situation. For simplification purposes, they renamed the 4 Qs as dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance (DISC).

PPA & water conditioning
In 1979, a district manager for a leading, branded water conditioning manufacturer attended a seminar in Detroit conducted by Dr. Hendrickson on PPA. He quickly thought that this might be the answer to the high turnover in salespeople. He and two other dealers in his territory decided, on a test basis, to use the concept in their next hiring cycle. Working with Dr. Hendrickson’s criteria based on successful salespeople as models, the program was put into action.

Within months of using the PPA on all new recruits, the results were astounding, Turnover was cut by 50 percent and the closing ratio was well over 60 percent. With these results in hand, it was time to introduce the program to the manufacturer’s national dealer group. The results nationally were just as sensational. The dealer, who was at 200 units a year, jumped to 500 while dealers at 400 jumped to 800 units a year.

Expanding the program
Over the next decade, the district manager worked with Dr. Hendrickson to expand the program to help dealerships in the selection of sales and service managers, bookkeepers, and operations managers to help ensure candidates selected could work together as a team. The organization perfected and developed a 24-point checklist used to determine qualifications based on the four dimensions of behavioral characteristics: dominance, influence of others, steadiness and compliance, and how each of those traits should influence hiring decisions. The characteristics of each of the four dimensions are shown on the accompanying chart.

Figure 1 here.

What is the system?
The PPA system is comprised of three assessment tools: PPA, human job analysis (HJA) and team culture analysis (TCA). From these tools, comprehensive reports can be obtained designed to enhance behavior in the workplace environment. There must be at least one person in the dealership or organization trained on these to ensure the effectiveness and responsible use of the PPA system.

Effective use of the system is spread over an entire organization. Measurable results are obtained by getting the right “fit” for all individuals with their roles contributing to increased productivity, motivation and job satisfaction.

Required tools
There are three distinct tools or instruments used to identify the individual’s role in the organization:

  1. PPA identifies the work behaviors/style of the individual.
  2. HJA identifies the ideal behavioral competencies, required in the role and based on the business strategy and culture of the organization.
  3. TCA identifies the ideal team culture to drive the business strategy of the team.

Resulting reports
From these tools we can obtain comprehensive reports with many uses. Some of these are as follows:

  • dentify specific customer service skills and/or customer service training requirements of new hires used to enhance customer service skills in sales people.
  • Used to assist in the selection of call center employees and as a training tool for existing call center personnel.
  • Create a report that can create self-awareness and is excellent to give to candidates, if requested.
  • Provide career guidelines for use in succession planning and career guidance (available for three levels: clerical/manual, supervisor/middle management and executive/senior management).
  • Manage more effectively by identifying specific methods of managing, motivating and supporting an individual based on their behavioral style to optimize their potential.
  • Provide managers with discussion hints that allow them to probe specific areas of behavior preference unique to that individual.
  • Allow managers to assess management style and skills. Identifies specific management skills and/or training requirements of new and existing managers as well as potential management candidates from outside or within the organization
  • Provide management with a tool to audit sales as to specific selling skills and/or training requirements of new or existing sales staff as well as potential sales candidates within the dealership. Technical skills can be audited to assess the suitability of technical personnel to
    organize workflow, meet deadlines, manage time efficiently and focus on quality and problem solving.

Legal ramifications
The PPA system works well within the overall intent of the Canadian Human Rights Act and United States’ Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines that require the following criteria for assessment instruments:

  1. Must be administered by qualified administrators,
  2. Are reliable and valid,
  3. Are unbiased and culturally fair, and
  4. Have a job component so as not to discriminate between candidates.

Reliability is defined as “the extent to which an instrument of testing dependably and consistently measures a characteristic.” Reliability is measured on a scale of -1 to +1 where 0.5 is acceptable and 0.7 or higher indicates a high level of reliability. This PPA system ranks highest in reliability with measurements ranging from 0.80 to 0.89 in split-half reliability and 0.70 to 0.87 in test/retest reliability. The accuracy of the PPA system results in an 88.5 percent hiring reliability rating on average.

Using this PPA system to evaluate how prospective employees might fit into an organization virtually allows the individual dealer to have the luxury of an in-house human resources department without the costs. It helps the dealer add accuracy and objectivity to the assessment of an individual. It can be used to impose structure and focus during an employment interview; and can minimize the possibility of adverse impacts derived from varying and unsystematically observed cues.

About the author
Frank Roman is a senior consultant for Apostle Islands Consultants and Thomas International Inc., of Mississauga, Ontario. Roman has completed over 10,000 profiles and coached or trained over 30,000 people globally on use of the PPA System. As the district manager discussed in the above article, he has over 40 years of experience working with small business and the water treatment industry. He’s an education advisor for the Water Quality Association and holds its Certified Sales Representative (CSR) designation. Roman can be reached at Apostle Islands Consultants offices in Hudson, Wis., or (888) 597-6455, email: or website:


• Consultative
• Non-demanding
• Cautious
• Conservative
• Mild
• Probing
• Reflective
• Serious
• Factual
• Logical
• Active
• Alert
• Demonstrative
• Mobile
• Restless
• Firm
• Independent
• Persistent
• Strong-willed
• Stubborn


• Power
• People
• Pace
• Policy
^ J
yBased on high ‘ characteristics

• Sell
• Listen
• Write

• Tangible goals
• Recognition
• Security
• Team inclusion
• Policy and Information

• Failure
• Rejection
• Insecurity
• Exclusion
• Conflict
• Chaos

• What
• Who
• Why
• How

• Authoritarian
• Democratic
• Procedural
• Knowledge based

Thomas International Inc. © Copyright 1999-2003


Comments are closed.