Psychometrics: Understanding Responses to Change

It really does work, by Kim Wakelam

One change that has impacted everyone

The coronavirus pandemic has probably caused the most rapid and largest global change in how organisations operate that we have ever witnessed. Organisational and individual responses to this situation have been an amazing demonstration of human ingenuity, resilience and adaptability.

During this time, however, many individuals and teams have felt the intense pressure of a very stressful situation over a number of months. It’s worth taking some time now, before discussion moves on to the new challenges that will manifest as we move out of lockdown and into the post COVID-19 world.

Throughout this intense period of change, there has been a persistent ambiguity about our short-term and our long-term futures. We can’t yet answer questions that might offer reassurance – ‘when will all of this end?’, and ‘what will the world be like when it does?’.

As well as having to deal with the stresses and unknowns of this situation, organisations have been trying to develop or adapt how they support employees and teams to work differently while continuing to maintain performance. Understanding the different triggers for conflict and stress in this new environment can generate useful insights into how they can support individual and team resilience, enabling people to improve their response to change.

How can psychometric tools be useful?

I hear all the naysayers out there. If you have ever had a bad experience of a psychometric tool, you’re likely to question the psychology behind it. If your experience has left you with the impression that much of this is a bunch of unsupported psychobabble, then I would hazard a guess that it wasn’t utilised correctly, the wrong tool was used, or the administrator didn’t demonstrate the tangible benefits of the outputs.

Most people who are averse to psychometric testing won’t have experienced them being designed and delivered effectively by a qualified practitioner. It needs to be done in an appropriate situation and context so that you can see and experience the tangible application of the results to your life in or out of work.

Psychometrics that are designed to measure personality, behaviour and motivation are a powerful tool, which can provide several key benefits to individuals and organisations when properly deployed:

    • Psychometrics over recent years have become increasingly more sophisticated and tools now also help people to understand how their motivations may change while in a range of different scenarios. They have progressed from pigeon-holing people into static fixed ‘types’ and now reflect a more fluid and dynamic way in which we modify our behaviour and draw on our different strengths dependent upon the situation or context we find ourselves facing
    • Utilising psychometrics provides a common language for employees and teams to understand each other. Being able to understand how and why someone responds to a certain situation enables us to develop and cultivate productive working relationships. This is more important now than ever, as working together virtually using instant messaging, email and video chat, we rely much more on verbal communication than body language, tone of voice and the other non-verbal cues that we are used to receiving.
    • Using psychometrics allows individuals to have honest conversations without individuals feeling they are being criticised or personally attacked, by focusing on the aspects of work relationships that are positive as well as those that can be improved. This allows employees and teams to have open and honest conversations, building trust and stronger relationships.

Developing resilience, self-awareness and improved working relationships

Recognising the triggers that can cause strain and being able to develop the effective coping mechanisms, as well as recognising the needs of self and others within the work environment are some of the ways in which organisations can build resilience.

How can psychometrics help employees develop their own resilience?

Being able to understand what our own motivations and behaviours have been throughout this unique situation will help employees to prepare for the next phase of change that is yet to come. With the future still holding a lot of uncertainty, and potentially a great deal more change, having a deeper sense of self-awareness will allow employees to harness their strengths, reduce tension and avoid burn out.

How can psychometrics improve team resilience?

Having a deeper understanding of the motivations and behaviours of other team members throughout periods of change helps to avoid potential areas of conflict and allow managers and employees to actively manage complex situations in the future. This allows them to build on each other’s strengths and notice when they need to support each other through recognising how they each respond to challenging situations.

Finally, how does individual and team resilience help to improve organisational resilience?

Using psychometrics as a tool to understand how individual and teams have been able to keep on performing throughout this time, provides a different and unique perspective on how opportunities can be harnessed, and challenges overcome in the future. Supporting employees and teams to build resilience enables organisations to be productive, innovative and agile during times of uncertainty. This will be evident in the organisations that not only survive this crisis but thrive from it.

Kim Wakelam

Kim is a qualified business psychologist. She works with clients and teams across the public and third sectors to build and deploy bespoke programmes of support using peer-reviewed, validated psychometric instruments that have a measurable impact on individual and team performance and resilience.

If you’d like to speak to Kim about some of her ideas on using Psychometrics,  managing teams and individuals through change or just plain anything, send us a note and she’ll get right back to you.