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Psychometrics: What our professional partners are seeing in practice

What a difference a year makes. The Coronavirus Pandemic has transformed the way we work, leading many industry experts to predict that among the major HR trends for 2021, we’ll see a need for expanded skillsets, data-based recruitment methods, more flexible working practices and an emphasis on wellbeing and resilience.

Add to that movements such as Black Lives Matter and Me Too, and increasing calls for more diversity and inclusion across the globe and we’re likely to see a greater emphasis than ever before on objective decision-making in recruitment and on reducing the effects of subconscious bias.

Tanya Hudson and Susan Kealy are organisational psychologists with Kinch Lyons, a trusted distributer of the Podium assessment suite and online psychometric testing accreditation programme. They caught up for a chat to discuss the powerful role that psychometrics can play in these trends. The key take-aways from their discussion are highlighted below.

Virtual Recruitment and On-boarding

Interviews and on-boarding are currently virtual for most companies. This means hiring managers cannot get an in-person sense of someone in the way that they would with a physical interview. Therefore companies are beginning to rely on more objective data-based sources, such as psychometrics, to help them understand their candidates.

With respect to on-boarding, the first few weeks of induction can be a great opportunity for HR and management to learn more about a person’s values, learning styles, and how they can best be supported. As people are on-boarded virtually those data points cannot come through the same in-person means and so psychometrics can help to fill that gap.

Remote Working

Given the dramatic increase in remote working, and the probability that many companies will continue with these practices after things return to normal, an enhanced skill set is now needed.

Employees working from home will need to be self-starters and independent workers as well as to be reliable, and organised. Personality and values-based assessments can be a great way of identifying who will succeed within this new structure.

Diversity

There is increasing organisational focus on diversity and inclusion, alongside a growing awareness of our own susceptibility to our subconscious bias, which can be an enormous problem in selection, where interviewers may unwittingly prefer those who appear more similar to themselves, or form other non-job-related-perceptions.

Psychometrics are a source of objective data, and companies that introduce them can be seen to be making a commitment to fairer hiring practices, leading to more diverse workplaces. Ultimately, as much research has shown, diversity will likely have a positive impact on culture, innovation and the bottom line.

Employee Support and Development

Change and uncertainty has meant that employee wellbeing and resilience is fast becoming a workplace priority, and organisations are looking to psychometrics to provide frameworks to help them to create support and development programmes for their people.

Increased home-working may mean that extra support is needed, as employees struggle with isolation, a lack of communication, work-life balance or more.

Psychometric tools such as Podium’s “Pulse” survey is designed to help organisations gain a real-time understanding of an employee’s well-being and unique challenges, and to determine how to best support people.

Process Review

The economic uncertainty resulting from the pandemic has forced many companies to delay projects which they had scheduled. Companies have had more time to review and optimise their internal procedures and to put into practice plans that may have existed for some time.

Given that psychometrics are one of the strongest predictors of employee performance, it is likely that many companies simply have had more time to modify recruitment practices in order to incorporate them.

All of these developments have meant that people are waking up to the power of psychometrics and we are beginning to see a push for HR teams to become accredited and savvy in the ways of these tools.

Tanya Hudson and Susan Kealy are organisational psychologists at Kinch Lyons, an international psychology firm specialising in the selection and development of human capital and a trusted partner of Podium.

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Are predictions based on situational judgment tests precise enough for feedback in leadership development?

Situational judgment tests (SJTs) have much to recommend their use for personnel selection, but because of their low reliability the role of SJTs in behavioural training is largely unexplored. However, research showing that SJTs cannot measure homogenous constructs very well is based exclusively on internal analyses, for example, alpha reliability and factor analysis. In this study, we investigated whether patterns of correlations with external criteria could be used to show that SJT dimension scores are homogenous enough for feedback purposes in leadership development. A multidimensional SJT was designed for 268 high potential leaders on a development programme and used in conjunction with a multisource feedback instrument that measured the same competency framework. The SJT was criterion keyed using against the multisource feedback instrument using an N-Fold cross validation strategy. Convergent and divergent correlations between the SJT scores and corresponding multisource dimension scores suggested that SJT scores can be constructed in a way that permits dimension level feedback that would be useful in leadership development.

Guenole, Nigel; Chernyshenko, Sasha; Stark, Stephen and Drasgow, F.. 2015. Are Predictions based on Situational Judgment Tests Precise Enough for Feedback in Leadership Development? European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, pp. 1-11.

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Maladaptive personality at work: Exploring the darkness

Important changes in how personality is conceptualized and measured are occurring in clinical psychology. We focus on 1 aspect of this work that industrial psychologists have been slow to embrace, namely, a new trait model that can be viewed as a maladaptive counterpart to the Big 5. There is a conspicuous absence of work psychology research emerging on this trait model despite important implications for how we understand personality at work. We discuss objections to the trait model in a work context and offer rejoinders that might make researchers and practitioners consider applying this model in their work. We hope to stimulate discussion of this topic to avoid an unnecessary bifurcation in the conceptualization of maladaptive personality between industrial and clinical settings.

Guenole, Nigel. 2014. Maladaptive Personality at Work: Exploring the Darkness. Industrial and Organizational Psychology. 7 (1), pp. 85-97

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More than a mirage: An assessment center with more dimension variance than exercise variance

Assessment centres (ACs) are widely recognized to be among the best tools for assessing and developing management talent (Assessment Centres and Global Talent Management, 2011, Gower: London). Yet, the current consensus about the construct validity of ACs is that exercises rather than dimensions explain the majority of variance in ratings. Because much of the data on which these conclusions are based are now old, it is worthwhile to periodically re-examine this issue to see whether well-implemented designs produce better measurements of dimensions. We present results from 1,205 executive-level leaders from Fortune 500 firms across Europe and North America, who participated in developmental ACs that use modern design principles where assessors were formally examined to ensure they had a common frame or reference. Our results showed that while dimensions and exercises mutually determined ratings, more variation was owing to dimensions.

Guenole, Nigel; Chernyshenko, Sasha; Stark, Stephen; Cockerill, T. and Drasgow, F.. 2013. More than a Mirage: An Assessment Center with More Dimension Variance than Exercise Variance. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 86(1), pp. 5-21. ISSN 0963-1798

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Evidence for the validity of 360 dimensions in the presence of rater-source factors

Empirical research on the structure of 360-degree feedback ratings indicates that the source of the ratings (e.g., superiors, peers, subordinates) explains more variance than do the performance dimensions or competencies being measured. One alarming implication of this finding from studies of the internal validity of 360 ratings is that there appears to be little evidence to support the common practice of interpreting 360s in terms of dimension scores. To address whether rater-source factors are so pronounced that they should preclude the use of dimension scores, we considered the question from an external validity perspective and developed and tested a personality-based nomological network around both dimension and rater-source factors in a 360 data set. Using a sample of 825 managers and their feedback providers (3,300 participants overall), we found that ratee personality correlated more strongly with dimension scores than with source factors. This provides evidence to support the common practice of interpreting 360-degree feedback in terms of scores for separate dimensions and competencies, despite most of the variance in observed ratings being due to rater-source factors rather than dimensions.

Guenole, Nigel; Cockerill, Tony; Chamorro-Premuzic, Tomas and Smillie, Luke D. 2011. Evidence for the validity of 360 dimensions in the presence of rater-source factors. Consulting Psychology Journal Practice and Research. 63(4), pp. 203-218

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