Data analytics but become a common method to augment hiring decisions, but London startup ThriveMap claims to offer something unique. While its competitors provide their clients with psychological assessments, ThriveMap shifts the focus to assessing cultural fit.

The software acts as a matchmaker between job-seekers and work teams by processing answers to its survey through user-friendly analytics.

© iStock/PeopleImages
© iStock/PeopleImages

"Typically, talent assessment tools are the privilege of C-suite hiring, predominantly because of the expense and the barrier to entry," says Thrivemap's founder Christopher Platts.

"You normally have to go through a qualification or certification in a particular psychometric theory in order to be able to administer tools in this space. The opportunity that we saw was to democratise access to these kinds of analytics, to take them out of the hands of highly paid psychologists and put them in the hands of everyday managers."

The company achieves this with a survey that measures the preferences of the existing workforce and of potential new recruits. The comparison is then provided through simple data visualisations.

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The diagnostics identify the candidates that best fit the collective culture as well as individual metrics covering decision-making, career progression and working style. The company also identifies practical factors such as the level to which an individual prefers a hierarchical or democratic approach to decision-making.

These measurements are far more useful within the context of a team than of a company, whose stated corporate values offer little insight into the working environment that they'll enter.

"Really teams are not microcosms of organisations," says Platts. "Each team has a unique culture, and what we do with ThriveMap is enable managers to understand their teams better and ensure that any new hires they bring in are going to thrive with that team culture."

The culture of employee success

ThriveMap's selling point to clients is the savings that can be made by improving staff retention rates. Research suggests that the success of a new employee is largely due to personal traits and culture.

According to a study by Leadership IQ, 46 percent of newly hired employees fail within 18 months, but only 11 percent of the time it's down to lacking technical skills.

Soft skills are more common reasons for them to fail. The same survey revealed that an inability to accept feedback, a failure to understand and manage emotions, a lack of motivation to excel or the wrong temperament are all better predictors of whether an employee will leave their job, receive disciplinary action or receive negative performance reviews.

ThriveMap unearthed a better way to understand these causes through its research into existing psychometric assessments for employees.

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All of the current tools are based on theories of personality that were developed decades ago to diagnose psychotic episodes. They were initially used by clinical psychologists and then retrofitted to the workplace, but the resulting personality profiles pay scant attention to how they'll match with their new colleagues.

"We deliberately steered away from existing psychometric tools because of this problematic personality equation," says Platts. "We instead looked at things that related specifically to the workplace: organisational theory, team dynamics, sports psychology." 

In the course of its investigations, the company came across a researcher called Dr Amy Kristof-Brown, a professor of management at Iowa University with a PhD in organisational behaviour and human resource management who specialises in person-environment fit. This covers how they match with the job, group, organisation and manager, and according to Platts is the biggest area of correlation between performance and teams.

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In addition to the input from Kristof-Brown, ThriveMap consulted a UCL professor of statistics and PhD psychology students to bolster their scientific process, and HR directors and managers to understand to develop the survey questions.

The product launched in September 2016 and has since attracted clients including Dolby, AutoGlass owner Belron and AOL, which at the time was merging with Yahoo and wanted to understand the cultural differences. ThriveMap recently closed a £150,000 funding round with the help of the automated legal service SeedLegals.

The ranks of talent analytics providers may be swelling, but ThriveMap believes its focus on cultural fit sets it apart from rival tools to give it a unique position in the market. Later in the year, they expect to raise a bigger round with a view to an exit in three to five years.

"We don't measure who you are," says Platts. "Every other tool on the market in this space does. We measure how you like to work. We're measuring the context. You want the diversity of personality but you want to make sure that they're coming to an environment where they can thrive."