Using, Abusing or Losing Psychometrics?

Psychometrics are often used to pinpoint where individuals should focus their development and can also be used to map the attributes and gaps of an entire team. They are ideal for adding insight and opening up avenues for exploration into self-awareness and team dynamics.  However, if people are subjected to these sorts of tools then it is important that they are supported with relevant and insightful coaching to help them understand and interpret the results.  I find that when the feedback people receive from these tools is contrary to the view they had of themselves, this can result in a ‘crisis’ of confidence. Experienced professional coaching support is vital in these situations to help people re-frame the message and open themselves up to the new insights so they can benefit from them.

In the Executive Coaching Survey; Evidence and Interaction 2014, found that external coaches are more likely to have a broader range of experience, employ a wider range of coaching approaches and have knowledge of more psychometric tools than internal coaches. But what psychometric tools do they use? The survey identified over 70 potential tools with Disc, Myers Briggs and Strengths Finder being amongst those most commonly employed, but do we really need so many tools and is it good for organisations to keep bringing in new and confusing measures?

My experience within UK organisations is that what works well in one organisation falls flat in another and one reason for this is that there is now growing confusion as lots of different tools use similar language but the language means different things. Add to this the complexities such as organisational culture (technical vs service), sector (public vs private), Leadership style (democratic vs autocratic, open vs closed) and so on, and it gets harder and harder to pinpoint the right psychometric tool for your organisation.

To get psychometrics right it is important to have a conversation to identify what outcomes are required, what the person and organisation needs, and then identify the tool (or tools) to meet that need. That said here are my 3 tips that I advise organisations to consider.....

Three Top Tips for Choosing a Psychometric Tool

1. Choose a tool that will provide a memorable and common language for people across the organisation


I have come across countless organisations who have used MBTI but when I ask people to tell me what their own preference was, most people are unable to remember what ENFP or ISTJ mean, let alone recognise what a colleague may be and respond appropriately to that. That lack of recall means that whatever value people got from the initial report and workshop is soon lost (and so the investment is wasted). 

So when I went searching for psychometric tools my aim was to find those that I (with my rapidly aging grey matter) could get my head around easily, explain easily and recall easily some time later. This is why I now use the Insights Discovery system when working with organisations on leadership development and team communication problems. I find the colours and descriptions that are used, help peg the different communication styles to people's memory. In short the descriptions just make sense. This makes it so easy to recall. 

Also, I notice that people are very quickly able to catch on how to recognise the communication style of others and then develop strategies to adapt their approach to those of people they work with and so can build effective working relationships.  The speed at which this tool makes sense to people who had never seen it before made it a hands down, 'must have' tool in my own toolbox.

2. Choose a tool that is easy to understand

If you need an interpreter to get the key points then you are dead in the water. I recently did some work with an organisation that had used a complex strengths based psychometric. When I saw the resulting network map interconnecting team strengths, with different colours and what seemed like a spiders web of lines, I was stunned at the complexity and lack of clarity. I wondered how anyone could hand this to a client and say 'there you go, get on with it'. Don't get me wrong I am a massive fan of strengths based development. Enabling people to build on what they do best rather than angsting over what they are less good at is good for their psyche and for the organisation (and engagement) as a whole. That said, people need to be able to 'get it'. I use Strengthscope (aging brain kicks in again) as it just enables people to focus on their top stengths and use these to explore how they can apply these in their work.  Descriptions around strengths in over drive are also very helpful. 

3. Use a tool that is adaptable


A tool that can be used for individual coaching, team insights, leadership development and 360 enables you to not only retain the common language mentioned in point one and continue to apply the knowledge as described in point two, but also to widen and adapt the insight received. By being able to use the psychometric tool across a range of interventions I find that the flexibibilty easily allow people to build on their understanding without having to learn a new 'psychometric language' to describe different situations. Again I get this flexibility from both Strengthscope and Insights Discovery, which also broadens my own knowledge enabling me to add significant value to my clients.

Is Your Organisations Using the Right Psychometric?

Within organisations it is likely that people are still using the long standing corporately accepted psychometric tools.  But is your organisation reviewing the effectiveness of these tools and how they are being used? 

Often the fear of admitting a tool is not working for you is weighed down by the knowledge of the cost already invested in the tool, or the confusion which might be caused by moving to a different one. However, the real test is to ask yourself 'are people still living the language and deploying the insight gained from your chosen psychometric tool on a daily basis?'  If the answer is 'no' then your investment has already depreciated and perhaps its time for a rethink!

If you want to know more about how I build the psychometric insight into my own solutions then contact me here.

Find out more about our coaching and psychometric solutions here.