The range of Psychometric tools available currently is constantly growing. These tools are used mainly for the top 10% of staff in organisations. The uses can be to develop their leaders or create a talent pipeline. Often businesses use psychometric tools for their high-performance programmes. While prices for devices do differ, they typically cost around £100 – £300 per person. They 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.
How Are Psychometric Tools Being Used?
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.
But what else can psychometrics do for organisations, and how are they used in modern, forward-thinking businesses?
We know they can be used to give feedback to improve the style and behaviours of managers and leaders (e.g. DISC). Some are great for building and developing teams (e.g. MBTI). Also, we know that HR managers across the country are often wedded to just one model. Each is convinced that their favourite evaluation tool is the best!
My opinion is that they are broadly similar, using the same Jungian 4-dimensional model and adapted by many psychologists from the 1950s to today.
The Case For Using Psychometric Tools
It is believed that 80% of our actions are based on our behavioural preferences (how we do things). Therefore 20% of our actions are based on our technical skills and knowledge (what we do – tasks). Yet, companies spend 80% of the average training budget 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 improve performance by 8% for the same spend!
I have worked in companies where the top team uses DISC, 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! Indeed, if anyone needs behavioural understanding, it is the front-line staff?
Using The Tools
Sometimes businesses are reluctant to use such tools; this is primarily because of two main reasons:
- The HR professional responsible may have limited experience of only one or a small number of the available behavioural models
- They are expensive at around £100 – £300 per person
There are models which are cheaper and more accessible for the non-qualified. This means you can afford to help the top 10% of your staff and all staff at all levels.
There are many benefits to using one evaluation model across a whole organisation. However, one massive benefit is that all staff 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
- business goals are the focus for all staff
- teams are working together across the business, rather than in silos
- leaders are more strategic
- all employees are able to adopt a common language.
A Case Study
Recently a company in North London used the profiles of the whole company to analyse their culture and discovered that when stressed or under pressure, people hid. They became quieter and slowed down. Commonly they restricted communication to emails.
As a result, using psychometric tools in the recruitment stage helped overcome these issues. Firstly, they started to profile people before joining the company during the recruitment phase and actively looked for staff who did not have this approach under stress. 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.
Organisations should think more widely about the extra benefits of using psychometrics and behavioural assessment tools. Benefits such as raised morale, increased sales, happier staff, and teams have improved productivity. Developing one common language can improve leadership and management’s shared understanding. The return on investment can be huge. So it’s now time to rethink your approach to psychometric tools.
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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.