How to Measure Structure

August 1, 2019 Evan Theys

We tend to spot quite easily those who approach their work in a structured manner. They’re the colleagues that are planful, detail-oriented, and rule-conscious. They are likely to access project plans and checklists and may not be comfortable when conversations turn to the bigger picture and throwing out the rulebook.

But how can we measure objectively this characteristic?

how to measure structure


Structure is one of the areas measured in our ADEPT-15® personality questionnaire and forms part of the Task Style (together with Drive). The Task Style is one of six broad workstyles. 

How is Structure Seen in Behavior?

Structure, in terms of the ADEPT-15® aspect is centered around an individual’s orientation towards planning, details, rules and processes. Those scoring high on Structure are likely to be orderly and neat, with plans and processes in place and may be less creative. Those with a lower score, will tend to be big picture thinkers and not get into the detail.

As with all personality characteristics, there is no ideal position on the scale; different roles require different blends of behaviors. Below are some of the areas to leverage and watch out for at both ends of the Structure scale.

The Leverage Points

Those who score high on Structure are likely to be:

  • Detail-oriented and planful.
  • Practical and prudent.
  • Careful and rule-oriented, following processes and procedures.
  • Orderly and neat.
  • Uneasy with those that do not follow processes and procedures.

Those scoring low tend to be:

  • Big picture thinkers.
  • More innovative.
  • Spontaneous and uninhibited.
  • Comfortable with ambiguity.
  • More creative and not bound by rules or tradition.
  • Enjoy working his or her own way – and not how someone else dictates.

The Watch-Outs

Watch out for the following with high-scorers on Structure:

  • Can be perfectionistic.
  • May have difficulty with ambiguity.
  • Likely to have less of a big-picture focus.
  • Less creative.
  • Likely to be perceived by others to be inflexible.
  • May hold others to impossible standards.
  • May require very specific instructions and guidelines.

Watch out for the following with low-scorers on Structure:

  • Likely to view rules as optional (at least those developed by someone else!).
  • May overlook details or just not see the point of detail.
  • May create a project plan if required to – but then never look at it again.
  • May not appreciate that others require structure and therefore not provide it to them.

The Role of Structure in the Workplace

The extent to which someone is planful, detail-oriented, and rule-conscious impacts other aspects of daily working behavior. For example, an individual’s score on the Structure scale will indicate how he or she will prioritize work, manage resources, attend to detail, take risks and think systematically.

Prioritizing Work

Those high on Structure will adopt a systematic and methodical approach to work to a much greater degree than others. This implies they will consistently employ a logical approach toward prioritization-related decisions by examining facts, criteria (e.g., deadlines, importance, impact), and available resources, while ensuring successful completion of all priorities on time.

Managing Resources

Individuals that score highly on Structure are exceptionally detail-oriented and take a planful and prudent approach to their work. This suggests that they will be very likely to proactively engage in the necessary actions to structure and organize work teams (e.g., develop project plans and responsibility assignment matrices) as well as ensure projects are resourced appropriately (e.g., staff, tools) to efficiently meet deadlines within budget.

Attending to Critical Detail

Those with high Structure take a methodical approach to their work. They are likely to be highly effective in attending to critical details of work processes and project plans. However, their perfectionism may lead them to become excessively fixated by smaller details within their work processes.

Taking Prudent Risks

Individuals scoring high on Structure are deliberate and cautious in their approach to opportunities. As such, they may be more inclined than others to carefully evaluate all the risks associated with them; however, this can create a tendency to be overly risk-averse and avoid reasonable risks altogether.

Thinking Systematically

Low scorers will be less focused on detail. This will likely make it much easier them, compared to others, to develop and leverage a broad and systemic perspective to anticipate the effect of decisions and actions on their organization.

Compensating for the Structure Score

Depending on the location of the Structure score on the scale, you might want to take a look at the other ADEPT-15 scale scores to understand how these may

When Structure scores are low, we need to look for:

  • Higher Ambition and / or Drive scores. These can help mitigate a lack of organizational skills.

When Structure scores are high, the ability to see the bigger picture may be inhibited and so we need to look for:

  • Higher Conceptual scores. This indicates a propensity to be inquisitive, creative, and abstract.
  • Higher Flexibility scores (i.e., open-mindedness and adaptability). Again, these can help overcome lack of flexibility and being overly rule-focused.

 

For more about assessing structure, take a look at our personality questionnaire ADEPT-15®

 

About ADEPT-15®

ADEPT-15® is the most advanced, secure, and award-winning* personality test available. With over 50 years of personality, leadership, and psychometric research combined with an adaptive approach to assessment design, ADEPT-15® measures 15 personality traits critical to successful workplace performance. It looks at our preferences, work styles and tendencies as well as what gives us energy and our possible blind spots. It indicates our strengths and areas for development as well as the leadership style we may use, and how others may see us.

 

*M. Scott Myers Award for Applied Research & International Personnel Assessment Council Innovations in Assessment Award

About the Author

Evan Theys

Evan serves as the leader for Aon's Assessment Solutions Product Development team in North America. In this role, he manages and supports the development of innovative, forward-thinking assessment solutions, and partners with leaders across Aon to develop the strategy for the global products portfolio as well as bringing new products to market.

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