This weekend a number of challenging conversations led us to ponder how we can support colleagues and clients to use business tools to express themselves and reach their full potential.

It was 11am in London, and a worried mother shot me a dagger look as I passed a pair of 5 inch kitchen scissors to my 2 year old. At the same time, her husband was challenging me because I suggested he should let his team understand exactly what makes him tick. It was Sunday morning, but somehow individual, leadership and team development had slipped into the agenda.

Perhaps both of them have had ‘history’ with tools that can cause harm. This may be the reason why many people stay clear of psychometrics in business and scissors!

Let’s deal with scissors first, because the answer is simple. It’s not the tool per se that’s dangerous. it’s just how they are used! At home we’ve a set that are plastic and completely safe, and are wonderful teaching tools for our children. Our kids have learnt the simple safety rules of scissors, and I’m confident they can play with modern 5 inch kitchen scissors without incident.

Psychometrics in business is a little more challenging to use safely. Personally I’m not sure I would let my kids play with scissors that were made in the 1960′s, especially if contemporary scissor specialists challenged 1960′s scissor design. So why would I feel it was safe to allow business to use psychometrics that were based on an old methodology that may now be outdated?

There seems to be two key objections when business use psychometrics. The first is that psychometrics use a typing based methodology that stereotype or ‘box’ employees. This is a fair criticism. Even for Lumina, which is arguably the most advanced trait based tool, and measures the opposites and complexity in a person’s behaviour, it’s possible to misuse it. However at least it doesn’t categorise people as a particular type and that becomes their label for ever-more.

The second is less well defined, but equally real. What my friend feared on Sunday morning was that a tool that measured elements of weakness could be used against them. Cultural differences come into action here too and recent experiences with training in Poland and the Czech Republic have confirmed this as a real fear.

If it wasn’t for the immense fun I had as a child cutting and sticking, I may have never searched for the perfect children’s scissors. And if it wasn’t for the remarkable benefits I’ve seen from people using the new generation of psychometrics like Lumina, and the transformation it’s facilitated in individual, team and organisational performance, I would have given up on business psychology when the first objections started. So I’ve developed three ‘truths’ to help organisations chose development tools:

Truth 1:

There is no empirical evidence that the psychological type theories proposed by Jung, and used as the basis of many psychometrics, exist. They may be great theories, but it’s plainly inaccurate to put people in boxes. We all instinctively know how complex and contradictory we can be, and are uncomfortable being typed. Therefore, identify development tools that measure the true complexity of the human spirit.

Truth 2:

For over two decades, psychologists have developed consensus that the main measurement of personality involves scaled measurement of traits (not types). This Big 5 research points us towards what can really be measured in our behaviour. Therefore ensure development tools measure your employee’s traits.

Truth 3:

Any tool that can facilitate real transformation can also cause damage. Ensure your facilitator creates the right context, comment and environment.

To find out how to use Lumina Spark to make a real difference in your business contact us today.