Monday, October 29, 2012

Personality Test: Good, Bad or Indifferent?

A recent article in the BBC looked at the effectiveness of psychometric assessments as a tool for recruiting employees and fitting people to specific roles in an organization. I won't spoil the article for you, but the synopsis of it is this; can a personality test that is designed to fit everyone into 1 of 16 possible "boxes" be an accurate, or even effective tool to gage somebody's ability to succeed in a given position?

The short, and obvious answer to this is, well no. However, upon a deeper delve into the subject of human capital and recruiting it becomes apparent that psychometric assessments, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in particular, are used by a broad assortment of corporations across North America and the world (89 of the of the top fortune 100 companies use MBTI) in some degree to assess their talent. The MBTI has been translated into 24 languages, and as the BBC article states it has even been modified to serve government and military purposes around the world. If this is true than it must have some merit, right? Well it does, the MBTI is a "fantastic vehicle for people to think about themselves and how others are different" says Rachel Robinson of the consultancy firm YSC (Personality Test: Can they identify the real you? BBC news), but it is just that, a tool designed for people to understand their own drivers, motivators and decision making mantras, and to help them see how their colleagues' drivers, motivators and decisions making mantras differ from their own. For those of us who are unfamiliar, or have never had to take the MBTI here is how it works:

Your "box" is made of a four letter code, which is your personality code in essence. For your first letter you can either be classified as either an extrovert (E) or an introvert (I). For your second letter you can be either a sensing person (S) or an intuitive person (N). For your third you can be a thinker (T) or a feeler (F), and lastly for your fourth letter you will be either a judging type (J) or a perceiving type (P). If this doesn't sound like a very accurate way to determine a person's proficiency in a job role to you, you are not alone. Myers-Briggs is the first to admit that the MBTI should not be used for identifying talent and placing candidates in job roles, because this was not its design. However Myers-Briggs, along with any HR manager or human capital analyst will tell you that there is a need for a tool that can accurately analyze and place prospects in job role that fits, and the demand for such a tool is growing rapidly.

With the global economy slowing and profit margins shrinking it has never been more important for big corporations and small businesses alike to cut out the risk and consequences of a bad hire. For this fantasy to become reality companies need a tool that identifies and measures not only a person's "core personality" (the way they think and operate) but also the characteristics that dictate how a person will respond to stress, criticism, deadlines, authority, conflicts, noise, confrontation and check-ups (to list a few). This is a must because these are the character traits that describe how a person will work in a given job role, if these traits can be uncovered prior to hiring someone then this provides incredible insight into whether a potential hire will be a good fit within a company's culture, whether they will be successful in their role or not, and to what extent.

This isn't a startling revelation; even the most successful businesses have struggled with placing top ranking new recruits into good job roles that fit with their skills set for decades. Now though, the stakes are higher than ever, profit margins are tighter than ever and there is unrelenting pressure for managers to maintain or exceed past results with far fewer resources. This problem is amplified when you consider some industries are losing top performers and experienced employees to other sectors or even to competitors due mostly to their reluctance to promote workers who are successful in their current roles but who also want opportunity to expand and increase their responsibilities as well as their tax bracket. This is an unnecessary cost to a company, and one that many can't afford when the estimated cost of replacing a 30k salary is upwards of $41,000(ADP study). Not only that, but ineffective human-capital management undoubtedly has a direct impact on a company's bottom line. Over 40% of CEO, CFO and HR directors polled in July by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), say that their firms failed to meet key financial targets because of ineffective human-capital management (TEH SHI NING, BusinessTimes). To eliminate this cumbersome cost and make the most of your workforce it is imperative that you hold onto talent and find ways that work for them to work for you to make money. There exist a variety of consulting firms and human capital analysts that can help your business get the most out of its people, some are expensive, some not so much, but the quality can be lacking and if they don't get you the results that you need then they are just another unnecessary cost. I recommend a product called the Predictive Index® (PI®). Predictive Index is a self-report measurement of normal, adult, work-related personality, which has been validated exclusively for use within occupational and organizational populations. The PI takes 5-10 minutes to complete and renders a myriad of useful, insightful and in depth information about a company's people and culture. The Predictive Index is the ultimate tool for all human capital management purposes, such as personnel selection, executive on-boarding, leadership development, succession planning, performance coaching, team building, and organizational culture change (2011 Predictive Index Technical Overview).

Predictive Success™ is a Canadian PI licensee who delivers workshops, offers consulting, and acts as a customer service agent for clients using PI in their businesses. Their website is:

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