Nothing to Fear: Tests and Assessments That Help Rather Than Hurt

by Regan McPhee 27. November 2010 00:14

Tests scare people. They imply that there is a right answer and a wrong answer. But some tests, or should I say assessments, have no right or wrong answers. They are merely explanations and clarifications that should enlighten us. They are nothing to fear.

 

However, in the past, many employers used these assessments to gather information they then used against their employees, rather than using it to support their employees’ growth, unfairly giving psychometric tools their frightful reputation.

 

But in fact, the most commonly used assessments worldwide (DISC; Myers Briggs Type Indicator – MBTI; Emotional Quotient Inventory – EQI; and Predictive Index – PI) were created as self-development tools and when they are used correctly, they can enhance our business’ ability to function.

 

Furthermore, according to research begun in 2008 by Hewitt Associates, a human resource consulting and outsourcing company, employee morale and connectedness is down for most companies due to anxiety, insecurity and turmoil brought on by the recent economic downturn.

 

 But as Ted Marusarz, the leader of Global Engagement and Culture at Hewitt, says in a July 29th, 2010 Business Wire article, insight into the motivation of employee behaviour is essential for achieving organizational success during good times and bad.

 

To appreciate the benefits of these tools, we must first understand what they measure and what they don’t. We need to understand what they can and cannot do. And, finally, we need to understand how they should be used and how they can be abused.

 

Take, as an example, the DISC assessment. It measures behavioural patterns. That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less.

 

DISC doesn’t measure intelligence or ‘abnormal’ behaviour or past experiences. It can’t tell us what a person’s ideals are or about their educational background. What DISC can tell us are the behaviours a person prefers to use while they are at work.

 

And because DISC enables us to learn the behavioural preferences of our employees, and therefore their preferred style of interaction (soft-sell versus hard-sell; detailed versus an overview), it is an excellent tool to improve communication within our organizations.

 

It allows us to communicate more clearly and concisely and in a way that lessens misunderstandings and potentially hurt feelings.

 

Yet in addition to aiding clear communication, DISC can help determine what behaviours are necessary for the successful completion of a specific task and hiring the right person for the job.

 

But DISC should never be used as the sole reason for hiring someone.

 

When using DISC, or any psychometric tool, to aid in a hiring decision, the results of the assessment should not make up more than 10 per cent of the decision making process. We must also consider the interview, the resume, the references and even our intuition when hiring a new employee.

 

And if we use DISC to justify firing an employee we are misusing the tool. It should never be used to phase out an individual. If anything, DISC is an ideal tool to help adapt the position so it better suits the person performing the job.

 

Finally, DISC findings should never be used against someone. It is meant to celebrate the unique behavioural style of each employee and what those behavioural strengths bring to our organizations.

 

So take the next step. Ease the minds of your staff and learn for yourself the advantages of DISC and how to incorporate it into your organization’s daily functions. Re-engage your employees. Show them they are an integral part of your business and give them the education and support they need to grow right along with the organization.

 

Because tests don’t have to be scary and DISC, when used properly, can help ensure that you have the diversity - and the knowledge to manage that diversity - to succeed.

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