Psychometric Data is for Talent Management Teams, Too

By Emily Lambert

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In the future of work, talent management teams will need to get their hands on predictive data to make the best talent decisions.

We’ve mentioned this on the blog before – the future of work is going to demand an approach to talent management that breaks down organizational silos. After all, many jobs will be automated (and new jobs will be created) at an unprecedented scale, which will leave organizations with two choices. One, let go of people in masses, and hire new people into new roles – an absolute recruiting and human capital management nightmare. Or two, organizations can keep talent internal, migrating people from dying jobs to new jobs. 

This is a new challenge that enterprises haven’t had to face at such scale before, and talent management leaders can’t afford to get it wrong. They’ll need predictive data to ensure the right people get into the right seats. To get access to this kind of data, talent management teams and talent acquisition teams will need to work in tandem like never before.

In many enterprise organizations, talent acquisition departments operate separately from talent management departments. Although there may be a lot of communication between these teams, ultimately they are separate business units; talent acquisition hires people, and talent management develops and moves them. That’s the way it’s always been.  

The siloing of talent acquisition and talent management, consequently, results in the siloing of data collected and stored by the respective business unit. One of the main ways this siloing manifests is when it comes to psychometric data. 

Psychometric Data isn’t Just for Talent Acquisition 

Pre-employment psychometric assessments allow employers to assess dimensions of a person that wouldn’t necessarily be clear on a resume or performance review, like problem-solving ability, social intelligence, and personality. Talent acquisition teams increasingly leverage psychometric assessments in the hiring process. It makes sense – as evidence about resumes' lack of validity and accuracy continues to come to light, and as more and more studies demonstrate the importance of knowing the talents of your workforce (things like adaptability, innovation, and communication), psychometric assessments validated by Industrial/Organizational Psychologists are very popular as a shortlisting tool.  

Unfortunately, that valuable talent data is often thrown out once a candidate reaches the “hired” stage in an applicant tracking system pipeline. But this data could prove useful to talent management teams when making professional development and career pathing decisions about employees. 

The future of work will trigger an increased need to hire talent that will meet future business needs, and move them in a predictive manner accordingly. Without a universal predictive dataset, talent acquisition and talent management departments will miss key data points that have the potential to match people to roles that make use of their talents.  

Talent acquisition teams and talent management teams will need to work in tandem in an unprecedented capacity. Universal talent datasets made up of psychometric data not only have the power to inform predictive talent acquisition decisions (psychometric assessments can quantify talents such as persuasion, leadership, and execution, which are 4X more predictive of on-the-job success than a resume), but can transform how talent management operates in the future of work.  

Datasets that show, at scale, which employees are natural innovators, which are gifted communicators, and which can adapt with ease is game-changing knowledge for your company to possess. Organizations that can make predictive career pathing, learning & development, and emerging leader identification decisions with this kind of talent data will differentiate the winners from the losers in this new world of work. 

Psychometric Data and Career Pathing 

When talent management experts and business leaders hear the predictions concerning all the jobs that will be lost and created in the future of work, their first instinct may be to panic – will this mean mass layoffs, while simultaneously hunting for new talent at scale to fill these new and unfamiliar jobs? 

Future-ready organizations, however, recognize that the best use of resources (not to mention, overall employee morale) is to move current employees from dying jobs to emerging roles. They may not, however, be currently equipped for the task – only 6 percent of organizations believe they are excellent at moving people from role to role (59 percent rate themselves fair or inadequate).  

Employees’ skills and knowledge will no longer cut it when it comes to matching people to jobs. After all, these jobs will likely spring up suddenly with no established required education level or career history. Employees’ psychometric data – their innate patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior – will need to dictate career paths across departmental silos. The age-old “career ladders” will need to become “career lattices.” 

Career Ladders vs. Career Lattices

Career ladders vs. career lattices

By breaking down these silos and liberating people to flow across business units in a data-driven fashion, organizations may realize other benefits besides simply filling empty roles. Employees today – especially millennial employees, which will make up 50% of the workforce in the next two years – desire a variety of work experiences. A career lattice can offer that kind of experiential learning, benefiting employers by retaining talent that acquire diverse work experiences. 

This is especially game-changing to an organization’s nimbleness when these kinds of employees enter managerial positions. Managers who have worked in a variety of departments and levels more naturally and readily understand how decisions made in one business unit will impact all facets of the organization.  

Psychometric Data and Learning & Development 

The importance of valuable employee development has become clear in recent years. LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report found that 93% of employees would remain with an organization longer if it invested in their career development. In 2017, average spend on external training products and services has increased by 32.5%.  

But only one in four senior managers report that training is critical to business outcomes. Why? Because of the overemphasis on one-off, hard skills development. This may look like training courses or microlearning platforms, which often focus on role-specific skills and knowledge. Organizations are focusing on developing their talent for the here and now – but not for the future.  

To implement a development strategy that’s organized around future business needs and goals, you’ll need to shift your focus away from one-off, hard skills development to continuous, talents-based development. Talents are transferable across the different roles and projects that are encountered during an employee’s career journey. 

A beginner’s Google Analytics class or a 3-day product management conference won’t prepare people for potential jobs of the future, like Tech Ethicist, Digital Strategist, or Data Architect. Rather, the people who will succeed as they step into these roles will be the ones who worked with their manager to develop their communication skills, adaptation ability, and eye for innovation. 

Psychometric data can provide insight into individual gaps and opportunities for continuous, soft skill development, allowing for personalized talents-based development plans for every employee.

And this is the kind of development that employees crave. One survey found that 57% of business leaders ranked soft skills over hard skills as the areas they need their employees to develop.  

As roles change and the game of musical chairs begins, having a team of employees with strong soft skills (and a way to quantify those skills with psychometric assessments) will make adapting and transitioning your teams a much easier mountain to climb.  

Psychometric Data and Emerging Leader Identification

Attempting to accurately identify individuals with future leadership potential is a challenge felt by many – 66% of organizations invest in such programs. However, only 24% of senior executives at these firms consider the programs to be a success, and up to 40% of internal job moves made by these “high-potential” individuals result in failure.  

Talent professionals lack a predictive, scientific method for identifying leadership potential. Just because someone is a fantastic individual contributor does not mean that they’ll be a fantastic leader. The individuals placed in these programs are typically selected based on past performance, an unreliable measure of actual leadership potential. Or they’re identified because of the selector’s subjective assessment of their “leadership quality” – a clearly invalid, unscalable method. 

Industry leaders and I/O Psychology experts have used psychometric data to identify a leadership talent model proven to predict future success. Using such a model provides an objective, quantifiable methodology for identifying individuals with the potential for future success in a leadership position. Talents like learning agility, drive, and resilience are fundamental to a leader’s success. These talents are transferable, quantifiable, and most importantly, predictive.  

Now that you have an understanding of how talent datasets founded in psychometric data can help your organization make more predictive decisions at every stage of talent acquisition and talent management, how do you begin collecting these data points at scale? Historically, the practice of collecting psychometric data has fallen to expensive and non-scalable consulting services – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Learn more about how talent acquisition and talent management teams can get access to psychometric data to prepare for the future of work by reading our Talent and the Future of Work e-book.