Psychometrics and tools such as Saville & Holdsworth’s OPQ, NEOC- Big Five, Thomas International’s DISC, SDI, Insights, Lifo, Firo-B, Myers Briggs – MBTI, Evaluation store’s SPECTRUM and ACE are probably the top 10 in the UK and across the USA today. Used mainly for the top 10% of staff in organisations for leadership development and for high-performance programmes, they typically cost over £100 and often need an evaluation-specific certified person to give the feedback, pushing the costs up further. Most consultants and coaches become accredited to use several of these assessments.
But what else can psychometrics do for organisations and how are they being used in modern forward thinking businesses?
We know they can be used to give feedback in order to improve the style and behaviours of managers and leaders (e.g. DISC), we know some are great for building and developing teams (e.g. MBTI) we also know that HR managers across the country are often wedded to just one model, each convinced that their favourite evaluation tool is the best! My opinion is that they are largely similar, using the same Jungian 4-dimensional model and adapted by many psychologists from the 1950s to today. Here is the evidence:
It is believed that 80% of our actions are based on our behavioural preferences (how we do things) and 20% on our technical skills and knowledge (what we do – tasks); yet 80% of the average training budget is spent by companies on improving technical skills and only 20% on soft skills. If you improve your productivity by 10% using this formula, you will only increase productivity by 2%. But if you spent 80% of your budget on soft skills and had the same improvement, you will increase performance by 8% for the same spend!
Often, as children, we are taught to treat others how WE want to be treated. However, this does not optimize communication effectiveness as other people are different to us – we need to treat others how THEY want to be treated, but how can we do this if we are not them? We need a model, a common language, to all be talking about behaviour in the same way.
I have worked in companies where DISC is used by the top team, MBTI is used for the next layer of teams and departments and nothing whatsoever is used for the 80% of the customer-facing staff who deal day to day with the clients! Surely, if anyone needs behavioural understanding, it is the front-line staff?
Why do we often withhold such psychometrics training?
1) the HR professional responsible may have limited experience of only one or a small number of the available behavioural models
2) they are expensive at an average of just over £100 per person
There are models which are cheaper and accessible for the non-qualified such as Spectrum (available via www.evaluationstore.com) which then means you can afford to help not just the top 10% of your staff, but all staff, at all levels.
I have now behavioural profiling with a dozen or more companies, for improving customer service, increasing sales, sorting out the conflict between teams, improving supervisory skills, making teams more efficient, helping managers manage better and leadership more inspirational.
There are many benefits to using one evaluation model across a whole organisation, but one massive benefit is that all staff at all levels are using the same model and the same language. This means in behavioural terms, the CEO can talk the same language and have the same understanding as the guy who sweeps the car park and everyone in between.
- engaging staff to live the values becomes easier
- all staff are focused on the business goals
- teams are working together across the business, rather than in silos
- leaders are more strategic
- managers can motivate and staff will be driven to hit their objects and targets and using the same common language.
Recently a company in North London used the profiles of the whole company to analyse their culture and discovered that when in stress or under pressure, people hid, became quieter and slowed down, generally communicating via E-mails, even if they were sitting next to the person they wanted to talk too.
So, two simple things happened. Firstly, they started to profile people before they joined the company during the recruitment phase, and actively looked for staff who did not have this approach under stress.
And secondly, they ran a 2-3-year training programme to train staff to try and learn to use new and different behaviours when under stress or pressure. Both strategies worked and they are now performing well, even under pressure.
So, I firmly believe that organisations should think more widely about the extra benefits they can get from using psychometrics and behavioural assessment tools, such as raised morale, increased sales, happier staff and teams, one common language as well as improved leadership and management, but it doesn’t have to be the model you are currently using nor does it have to be expensive, nor does it take months to qualify or be accredited!
Source: Steve Jarrett, I the author confirm I have the right to use this image.
Stephen Jarrett is an HR and Management Consultant with over 30 years’ experience in all sectors and across the world, advising, building and delivering HR solutions, Strategy, Training, Coaching, Counselling, Mediation and Facilitation. He is also a European Master Trainer in Psychometrics, qualified in several widely used models.