ENHANCED PERFORMANCE SYSTEMS of Canada distributes The Attentional and Interpersonal Style (TAIS) - Inventory and related computer software. In addition, we provide training and certification courses which teach qualified individuals to use both TAIS and Attention Control Training (ACT) procedures. Both TAIS and ACT are being used around the world for team building, and performance enhancement with top performers in business, sport, and the military.
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TAIS/ACT Theory Summary
To perform up to their potential, individuals must control both concentration and emotional arousal.
Under optimal conditions concentration flows much like water in a river, passing through natural transition points where performance is subconsciously evaluated.
- Focus of concentration varies along two dimensions, width and direction.
- These two dimensions intersect to form four different attentional styles, broad-external, broad-internal, narrow internal, and narrow external.
- Different individuals have different preferred or dominant styles. Some are dominated by broad-internal or analytical focus, others by a broad-external or reactive/intuitive focus. Still others are dominated by narrow focus of concentration.
- Different performance situations require different styles and/or different amounts of shifting between the four styles.
- Under optimal conditions, the average individual can meet the concentration demands, and make the attentional shifts required by most performance situations.
- When arousal gets too high or too low the ability to shift one's focus of concentration gets interfered with. Often the individual's concentration strength, or dominant style, becomes a weakness as the individual relies too heavily on it, and fails to make needed shifts.
When performing at normal levels, there are frequent breaks in concentration because minor changes must be made in mental and/or physical processes to compensate for slight errors in judgement or execution (e.g., starting to swing at a pitch too soon). It is these subtle adjustments which keep individuals out of the "flow" state. To get into the flow state, both the frequency with which adjustments need to be made, and the length of time it takes to make adjustments, must be decreased.
- Transition points occur when there is a shift from an internal focus to an external one, or vice versa, and when there is a shift in the bodies movement about it's center of mass.
- When transition points occur, the brain's filters are momentarily turned off and there is a flood of sensory information.
- The information is reacted to as a pattern, when the pattern is perceived as normal the transition point is passed through without disrupting the flow of concentration.
- Breaks in concentration occur when the pattern of information signals something is wrong and conscious adjustments must be made to correct the problem.
- When individuals are in the "Zone", the pattern of information received at each transition point signals everything is okay and there are no conscious breaks in the flow of concentration.
Recovery time is the length of time it takes to make an adjustment to input from a transition point indicating something is wrong. Recovery time varies for two reasons:
In important performance situations, signals indicating things are not going according to plan, result in increases in arousal.
- Some adjustments are more complex requiring more problem solving and/or searching for solutions.
- Excessive emotional arousal increases the length of time individuals attend to task irrelevant distractions thereby increasing recovery time.
Recovery time is slowed down, and problems become compounded when the individual is unable to control emotional responses to transition feedback. The type of problem an individual will have, can be predicted by scores on the interpersonal scales on TAIS.
- Increasing arousal causes narrowing of concentration.
- Increasing arousal forces the individual to focus internally, to problem solve.
- The longer attention is focused internally the more time appears speeded up.
Individuals with low levels of self-confidence react to negative feedback by becoming anxious. Doubts increase as do negative thoughts. The person becomes tentative failing to respond (errors of omission), or responding late. Additional failures increase arousal even more and lead to the process referred to as "choking". This problem is most likely to occur with low scores on TAIS scales measuring need for control (CON), self-esteem (SES), competitiveness (P/O), and a high score on the scale measuring speed of decision making (OBS).
Individuals with high levels of self-confidence react to negative feedback by becoming angry and frustrated. As attention narrows they spend more time focusing on irritants than on task relevant cues. Frustration and anger increase, slowing if not preventing recovery. A downward performance spiral occurs. The person begins to rush, becoming over aggressive and preoccupied with getting even or venting anger. This problem is most likely to occur with high scores on TAIS scales measuring behaviour control (BCON), need for control (CON), self-esteem (SES), competitiveness (P/O), and expression of anger (NAE), and a low score on speed of decision making (OBS).
Administration and Scoring
The one hundred and forty four item TAIS inventory can be administered on the computer, or as a paper and pencil inventory in about twenty five minutes. TAIS measures twenty different performance relevant concentration, communication, and interpersonal skills. Subject's responses to the paper and pencil version of the inventory can be scanned into the computer, or they can be entered by hand.
Data Storage and Confidentiality
You can store a subject's responses to TAIS in as many different data files as you like. A top salesperson's data for example might be stored in a company wide data file, in a sales data file, and in a file set aside for top sales persons. Access to any of the data files is controlled by a key which attaches to any ADB portion your computer.
The selection/assessment portion of the EPSystems HRD
package allows you to make several different comparisons between subject's
scores on critical job relevant competencies and the position(s) they are
being considered for.
• Form Group Comparisons: In addition to the profile templates, TAIS information has been collected on a number of normative populations.
• Managerial Competencies: TAIS scales can be clustered together to form more general behavioural sets or competencies (e.g., the ability to take responsibility and assume a leadership role). The actual structure of these competencies (e.g., the particular TAIS scales that cluster together) varies from group to group. Your package comes with three different sets of managerial competencies. One for more managers of engineers and/or highly technical individuals, one for sales personnel, and one for more general management positions. The management competency graphs plot the individual's scores in comparison to the respective group. Relative strength sand weaknesses are highlighted, and questions are generated which identify areas that need further development and/or investigation.
What growth needs to take place in the organization to accomplish your mission and objectives? What growth needs to occur with a given individual to allow him or her to move up two positions within the organization? Everyone has room for improvement, if for no other reason than the fact that the skills and abilities required by one position may not be the same as those required in another (individual contributor vs. manager).
Characteristics measured by TAIS
applicable across performance situations. Thus, information gained from
can be used to see how well an individual fits in his or her current position,
and, to determine where growth needs to take place to move up in the organization.
Several of the EPSystems HRD programs provide
information that can be used to develop individualized development and/or
performance enhancement programs.
• Concentration Skills: Different performance situations require different concentration skills. This part of the EPSystems HRD package generates a report describing the individual's concentration strengths and relative weaknesses. The information contained in the report can be used to develop programs designed to improve: 1) Problem solving and decision making skills; 2) Focus and follow through, attention to detail; and 3) External awareness and sensitivity to the environment and/or to the needs and feelings of others.
• Probable Errors Under Pressure: As pressure increases individuals strengths often become weaknesses. That's because increasing pressure causes people to lose flexibility, relying too heavily on their more dominant concentration skills and interpersonal characteristics. Strategic thinkers begin to over think, managers with a high need for control begin to micro-manage, etc. This program is designed to sensitize individuals to the specific kinds of mistakes they are most likely to make when they are under tight time lines, and/or when their success is critical to themselves and to the organization. The report generated by the program offers suggestions for minimizing and/or eliminating those performance errors.
Different individuals have different concentration skills
and interpersonal styles. Good teamwork depends on mutual respect for each
others styles, and on a balance of those styles which is based on the needs
of the organization. Is there an appropriate balance between the more external
customer orientation and the environmental sensitivity of sales and marketing,
and the more cautious internally focused style associated with engineering
and R&D? Do your managers have the skills necessary to resolve the
inevitable conflicts that develop between sales and marketing, production
or manufacturing, and research and development? There are two programs
in the EPSystems HRD package you can
use to facilitate the team building process:
• Team Building Report: This
is a twelve to fifteen page report based on an individual's scores. This
report helps the person anticipate how others (e.g., both superiors and
subordinates) are likely to react to the way he or she behaves in different
situations. The information is then used to help the individual make any
adjustments necessary in order to meet the needs of the team.
In today's highly demanding and rapidly changing business environment, managers are finding it increasingly difficult to find the time to provide the kind of supervision necessary to develop their replacement. Unless tools can be developed which shorten the time required to supervise and/or develop personnel, and/or unless HR can take a more active role in the process, it will become increasingly difficult to replace key personnel from within the organization.
The EPSystems HRD package, contains all of the programs you need to enhance the ability of managers and supervisors to develop the people under them. Information gained about a person from TAIS, can shorten the length of time it takes a manager to identify areas which need development by as much as a year.
Termination and/or Retirement
Whether it's voluntary, or involuntary, termination of one's involvement with an organization is often a very difficult and emotional experience. What effect will termination have on the individual's self-esteem? What will they do with the time they have on their hands? What direction should they move in?
Information from TAIS can be used to help individual's who are leaving the organization identify the types of jobs and/or activities that are best suited to their particular skill set. When individual's within the organization are struggling in their current positions, TAIS information can often be used to help them take responsibility for decisions which are in both their best interests and those of the organization.
Measuring Growth Following Training and/or Supervision
Your EPSystems HRD package comes with several statistical tools that can be used to chart both individual and organizational growth. T-tests can be used to compare a group of subject's TAIS scores to the scores of any normative population. You can also make statistical comparisons between any of your data files (e.g., between high performers and low performers within the organization).
By testing and then re-testing individuals you can measure
change in scores over time. This can be especially helpful if you have
developed training programs on the basis of TAIS
and then re-tested following training.
Developing Job Templates Unique to Your Organization
The skills and abilities measured by TAIS are applicable across different performance situations. This fact makes it possible to create TAIS related profiles which describe the specific concentration skills and behavioural competencies required by any job or mission. By combining the expert knowledge EPSystems personnel have about TAIS, with the knowledge of experts in a given performance arena (e.g., software engineering, or finance and accounting), customized profiles can be developed.
It is also possible to create templates based on examples (e.g., a individual or a group of individuals who have demonstrated their competence within your organization).
Creating Internal Comparison Groups
As you develop an internal data base, your EPSystems HRD package can be modified to allow you to compare individuals to their peers, by creating your own corporate norm groups.
Developing Behavioural Competencies Unique To Your Companies Jobs or Mission
The twenty different concentration and interpersonal skills measured by TAIS tend to cluster around five or six, more general behavioural competencies. The structure of those competencies varies slightly, but significantly, from group to group. Competency charts specific to groups of individuals within your organization (e.g., bank tellers, production line supervisors, quality engineers. etc.) can be developed for your use.
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