Over the past few decades, competition in the workplace has significantly increased, with a constant demand for higher performing employees. Being human however, we all have our limitations. The next logical step then is to look at specialisation; creating a box and finding a perfect fit for the box if you will…
Many organisations today, despite the demand for a “perfect fit” employee, do little more than interviews and background/reference checks before employing a new member of staff. They are employed on the basis of a well prepared CV or resume, which with a decent amount of effort becomes a very strong yet often inaccurate “self-sales” tool.
It is a fact however that a salesman (the prospective employee in this case) wants to tell you exactly what you want to hear to close the deal (I know, I lied through my teeth for my first interview, and landed the job!).
So how do we look past the crisp suit, and honey drenched words to find the right person? Step to the plate psychometric analysis.
Now if you do not know what you are looking for, you can quickly step into a mine field of assessments, all promising to show you the light, presenting the silver bullet so to speak.
I was first exposed to psychometric analysis at school in the form of aptitude tests. This decided the direction of my schooling from 16 onwards. Needless to I am not in the field it said I would be, and am perfectly happy (and I would like to believe perfectly suitable to) doing what I am doing.
Sometime during the year 2000, the company I was working with was acquired by the biggest player in the industry. Part of the acquisition involved an analysis of all employees that would now form part of a much bigger organisation.
As most of my colleagues, I was rather sceptical about these “tests”. Rumours were “if you fail, you are out” and countless similar doomsday prophecies. I did the two assessments and waited. During this waiting period, I did my own research and came to the conclusion that this was all a gimmick.
To my surprise, I was called in for feedback on my results. I initially expected the worst as only a few of my colleagues were called in…
The HR manager sat me down, and after 10 minutes of detailed feedback, I was left speechless (that seldom happens!). The “profile” that was me was EXACTLY that, it was ME! I was a little freaked by the accuracy, contemplating some sinister voodoo involved.
The results from the assessments in addition to giving me a great confidence boost, launched me on a career path that set in motion the journey to where I am today.
Why did these seemingly simple assessments have such a significant impact on me and the path I have travelled on for past 20 years?
Affirmation – Though I had already built an opinion of myself and my abilities, the way my “profile” depicted me, at some level gave me the affirmation that to that point, self-affirmation failed to do. I was buoyed, and considered my efforts to that point recognised and justified.
Direction – I always knew that I was meant to do more than sit behind a desk and stamp documents. Granted at times, that included relegating George Clooney as Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor, or taking my place as the lead driver for the McLaren F1 racing team, but with my strengths highlighted so accurately, I now knew what my next “logical” move needed to be.
Growth – The Law of the Lid (again from the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, by John Maxwell) suggests that we all have a lid on our leadership and other abilities. The lid is your level of competency. There are aspects of our lives and our personalities that prevent us from passing this “lid”.
Structured Growth – Much to my dismay, I found (yes fine, I already knew) that I had a few weaknesses. The feedback I received included suggestions on how to address these weaknesses. I could now correct my one (hundred) flaw(s) where possible, or avoid areas of my weakness by delegating tasks that fall into these areas to others where that is an area they are strong in. John Maxwell in his book 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership talks about the Pareto principle, better known as the 80/20 rule. Simply said, you should send 80% of your time, on the top 20% of your staff. I took this and applied it to my strengths and weaknesses.
Paul Brown (co-author of Just Start) in his Article “Forget About Working on Your Weakness, Play To Your Strengths. A Case Study” that appeared on Forbes.com in 2013, Paul expands on the idea that it is easier to play on, and grow in your area of strength/giftedness. The effort required to improve on your weaknesses is exponentially higher than working on your strengths. Applying the 80/20 rule to this idea would mean that working on your weakness will require 80% of your effort, with an expected 20% improvement. Conversely, a 20% effort on improving your area of strength, will yield an 80% improvement.
Makes sense doesn’t it?
But to work on your strength’s, you first need to know what they are.
Do yourself a favour and get an assessment done. What’s the worst that could happen?