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Psychometric Profiling – Part of the Learning Journey

Psychometric profiling is commonly quoted to be used to positive effect by 75% of the Times Top 100 companies in the UK. You may well have come across or even completed a DISC profile, Myers Briggs Type Indicator or Belbin Team Role Inventory to name but a few. Psychometric tools can offer valuable insights to individuals and their organisations about their behaviours, skills and abilities. They provide an objective and consistent way of evaluating individuals across a range of measures and can be a great basis for more in-depth discussions about individual strengths and weaknesses.

Psychometric profiling is perhaps most often associated with recruitment but there are some risks, particularly when it’s used in isolation:

  • It can label or pigeon-hole people as a certain type, particularly when used without the guidance of a licensed practitioner

  • It can be culturally biased if someone takes the questionnaire in a language that they speak less well – and some expressions and concepts will have different conations in different languages

  • A candidate may try to ‘trick’ the questionnaire or feel led to give the answers they think are expected of them. Always make sure that the tool you are using has a reliability score of 0.7 or above as this demonstrates the that the test is likely to provide consistent results for the same individual

Psychometric tools can also be used for learning and personal development, perhaps to better effect as there is more time for discussion and interpretation and less pressure to 'do well' in the questionnaire. They help individuals and teams to understand themselves better and identify areas for development. Profiling can be a great addition to learning and development practices as it offers:

  • A spring board for personal reflection and development discussions

  • Insights to support career planning

  • Improved team effectiveness

  • Support for employees navigating through change.

It is important to choose wisely - there are a multitude of psychometric tools available, depending on your context and objectives. I have tried many and these are the two psychometric tools I have chosen to use in my training and coaching work.

Insights Discovery

Based on the psychology of Carl Jung, Insights Discovery helps people to become more self-aware, to understand others better and to improve workplace relationships.

If you have come across Insights Discovery before, you may have heard people say things like ‘I’m blue’ or ‘I’m a red’ but that’s to miss the subtle nuances of the varying degrees of our behavioural styles and preferences.

Insights uses a memorable four colour model to help people to understand their style, their strengths and the value they bring to the team. We each have a unique mix of Fiery Red, Sunshine Yellow, Earth Green and Cool Blue and our individual mix determines how and why we behave the way we do. We tend to a have a dominant colour but this doesn’t mean we behave to a simple type as we have access to all four colour energies.

A circle with cool blue, fiery red, sunshine yellow and earth green coloured quadrants
Insights Discovery four colour model

Greater self-awareness brings a more enhanced understanding of how other people see the world differently and judge situations according to their own personal values, beliefs and preferences. Perception is personal - what I see as normal or appropriate behaviour, you may see differently. When we have this understanding, we can adapt and connect better with others and get more positive outcomes from our professional relationships.

The International Profiler

The International Profiler is quite a different tool, used primarily as part of intercultural coaching programmes. It is designed specifically to help individuals to adapt to working in culturally unfamiliar environments including international assignees, leaders of global teams or executives negotiating cross-border deals.

Each profile is scored on ten competencies broken down into 22 behavioural dimensions derived from extensive academic research and the practical experience of international leaders and executives. This helps individuals to understand themselves better and consider how they might develop and adapt their approach for the new environment they are working in.

The International Profiler score pages print out
The International Profiler - sample scores

A key to the International Profiler is the concept of ‘push and pull’ competencies. Push competencies include things like ‘inner purpose’, ‘spirit of adventure’ and ‘exposing intentions’. Pull competencies include ‘flexible behaviour’, ‘welcoming strangers’ and ‘attuned'. Most of us tend to lean more heavily into either a push style or a push style but the secret to cross-cultural success is knowing when and how to dial up our push or pull – or how to dance between the two. Knowing when to adapt and pull our colleagues in and when to remain authentic and to push forward our own needs or way of doing things.

Personalised feedback and coaching allows the individual to contextualise their profile according to their own professional circumstances. Which competencies do they need to pay more attention to and are there any that they should dial down? How do the competencies complement each other so that a high score in one area can compensate for a low score somewhere else?

Designed for learning

Insights Discovery and The International Profiler are different in many ways but they share some things in common:

  • No individual profile is better or worse

  • There is a focus on self-awareness through reflection and feedback

  • They can uncover individual blind spots

  • They prompt practical actions and development steps

The discussions and insights that come from using both these profiling tools can bring real value and practical changes to individuals and teams. If you are looking for individual coaching or a fun team workshop let me know!


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