An increasingly large number of organisations of all sizes are using testing (aptitude and suitability testing) to help make decisions about individuals within their organisations. The benefits of introducing testing into the workplace (whether in the context of recruitment, or for the purposes of on-going personal and team development) include:
- Providing an external, objective view of an individual, which is not biased by the perspective of an individual (such as a line manager) or by the organisational culture.
- Helping individuals to learn about themselves by presenting them in a new light. The provision of tailored information allows individuals to manage their career progress and set targets based on their performance.
- Analysing fit between individuals and jobs, so that appropriate skills and training needs can be identified.
- Building teams of individuals who work harmoniously and productively together.
Which type of test is best for your organisation?
You need to decide exactly what you, or your organisation, hope to gain from profiling individuals, or a team. What information or advice do you wish to obtain that will help you with the organisation’s recruitment or personal development project? How will line managers, HR, trainers or consultants be using the information provided and to what end?
Many psychometric or personality tests provide results which focus on an individual’s score for a series of personality traits. Bear in mind that whilst information regarding personality traits may be edifying for the individual concerned, it is not necessarily the most useful form of feedback for the organisation. Instead, it may be more advantageous to retrieve practical advice which is grounded in 360-degree peer reviews and which is orientated towards a work setting.
What is a Psychometric Test?
There are many tests that focus on an individual’s personality. Aspects such as extroversion/introversion, thinking/feeling are measured and are considered relatively fixed. They are based on an individual’s answers to a range of questions. There is no 360-degree view, so one could say that the outcome is only as good as an individual’s self-knowledge.
The question to ask is whether the outcome of a psychometric test has a great deal of bearing on the individual’s performance in the workplace? Does it matter than a member of staff can be labelled an extrovert, or is it more useful to see how that staff member contributes in a particular work situation?
At Belbin, we feel that the latter is more useful and thousands of organisations worldwide agree. Of course personality is a factor, but it is only one of many that influence an individual’s behaviour.
What’s a Behavioural Test?
A behavioural test investigates propensities towards certain kinds of behaviour and styles of interaction with others, rather than measuring personality traits. Behaviour is regarded as more changeable than personality, since we can adapt our behaviour depending on what is required of us in a given situation or role.
Behaviour is also observable. This means that it affects, and is affected by, those around us. This makes the process of understanding and adapting our actions a democratic one: whilst we wouldn’t ask others to tell us about our personalities, we often remark on one another’s behaviour.
Finally, behavioural tests can provide constructive feedback which directly informs the way an individual behaves in the workplace. Personality is unlikely to change, so to dust off the cobwebs and get individuals and teams working more effectively, we need to focus on the point where changes can be made: our behaviour.
Belbin Team Roles – Behaviour or Personality testing?
Belbin is concerned with behaviour: what others in your team see and experience. Whilst this may be influenced by your personality, this is not the only factor.
In a nutshell, during the 1970s, Dr Meredith Belbin and his research team at Henley Management College set about observing teams. As the research progressed, the research revealed that the difference between success and failure for a team was not dependent on factors such as intellect, but more on behaviour.
The research team began to identify separate clusters of behaviour, each of which formed distinct team contributions or “Team Roles”. A Team Role came to be defined as:
A tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way
It was found that different individuals displayed different Team Roles to varying degrees. Moreover, the behaviour assumed might not correspond with what others observe. Whereas many psychometric tests rely on self-reporting, the Belbin assessment uses 360° feedback to give you an accurate idea of how you fit in your team.
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