Top Questions HR Needs Before Choosing a Psychometric

Top Questions HR Needs Before Choosing a Psychometric

March 2, 2020

When it comes to choosing the correct psychometric, The GC Index Co-Founder Dr John Mervyn-Smith argues human resources need to have a clear understanding of objectives when assessing for personality or productivity.

By Dr John Mervyn-Smith

Let’s face it the measure of an organisation’s success is usually how well its people work together and for a team to work effectively together relationships are of vital importance – people need to be able to trust others in their team to do their jobs. However, building trust needs constant investment.

The question for many business leaders and HR departments is how do you create the perfect team environment: one in which people can be trusted to make the contribution they need to and in which conflict is constructive?

Many organisations rely on psychometric assessments to help them do just this. But how should they choose between the myriad of psychometrics that are on the market.

Different psychometrics measure different things, everything from aptitude, personality and emotional wellbeing to cognitive abilities, skills and proclivities.

Given what’s on offer, it’s essential that organisations have a complete understanding of what it is they are trying to achieve, how they will use the data and whether they can gain a return on investment by using this information to inform key business decisions, set objectives and goals and drive transformational change.

Here are five questions to ask when selecting which psychometric to use:

Determine the Psychometric properties of the instrument

When you do choose your instrument, make sure that you choose one that is recognised for its psychometric properties: it must be ‘reliable’ – stable over time, and valid i.e. it measures what it purports to measure. Make sure that the instrument has a published Technical Specification that you can access.

Understand individual goals versus organisational goals

An effective psychometric is a tool designed, ultimately, to support the achievement of organisational goals. It’s not enough, for example, to state your goal as ‘leadership development’. Leadership development is not an end-point, it’s a ‘means to an end’. Your choice of instrument will depend upon the impact you are seeking to have upon the business: developing leaders to deliver organisational transformation is a different task to developing them to grow ‘business as usual’.

Know your measurements 

Many psychometrics are designed to provide the user and end user, with a description of personality. If you are using a personality measure you need to be clear what you are trying to achieve for both the individual and the organisation and whether personality is relevant to that objective. Ask yourself whether you’re looking at the right outcome from the psychometric.

The principle with measures of personality is that they ‘raise self-awareness’ with the hope that this leads to improved impact- usually upon working relationships. The risk is that a change in awareness isn’t converted into the right impact but simply polarises individual’s perception of difference- ‘I find you hard to work with because you’re an introvert…’

Assess the value-add of the psychometric

The purpose of a good psychometric is to generate insights that shape tangible and relevant (what are we trying to achieve) change objectives. A psychometric doesn’t create change, it stimulates it…in the right hands.

The test, then, of a powerful psychometric is that, for the end-user, it generates accessible answers to the question: ‘so what’…. what are the implications of this insight for action?

Action is the key, the aim of any change initiative at work is to feel, individually and collectively more potent, influential and impactful.

Optimization of the psychometric data 

Psychometric tools aren’t always cheap to use and while there can be a valid use for single use tools it is important to question whether it is delivering value for money for the organisation, a proper return on investment. Can you be doing more with the information you have, i.e. using it to provide information about teams and organisations as a whole rather than just the individual?

Efficiency around getting the right team together quickly isn’t an easy task. Being able to understand how an individual will make their impact and contribution to that team and project can help. This information also helps teams work together more effectively because there is transparency from the off around how everyone is making their contribution.

In addition to structural and team changes we also have to consider that people change, their drive or focus can alter over time and therefore the things that keep them engaged and feeling potent will change.

If you have a live map of your workforces’ potential impact it makes the selection process far easier and by using a framework within the project will drive efficiency in successful team build.

In addition to this if each individual understands how they can make an impact they are more likely to make the right career choices, be engaged and have a positive impact on projects and teams they work with.

Ultimately when people feel they are having an impact in their role, team and organisation and making a difference you will get 100 per cent from them.

The GC Index is designed to provide users with a description of the contribution and impact an individual will have within a role, team and organisation. For example, an Implementer at their best will bring urgency, energy, drive and organisational skills to delivering tangible outcomes. This is regardless of whether they are introverted, extraverted, analytical or intuitive.

Psychometrics should be there to support an individual, activity, team or objective and not make it more complicated by adding layers of required translation or additional work to make them effective.

(Ed. Dr John Mervyn-Smith claims to have over 30 years’ experience of coaching senior leaders and their teams. Dr Smith says his work in both clinical and occupational psychology underpins his understanding of the ways in which people make an impact at work. His extensive research in this field has led to the development of The GC Index. Image of Dr Smith provided courtesy of GC Index.)


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