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Predictive profiles benefit the top and bottom lines

MOST managers have at least one story about a job applicant who had a terrific resumé, strong references and impressed everyone in the interview. But, when it came to doing the job, they proved a disaster.

“What went wrong?” managers ask, as they tally up the costs of a hiring mistake, and “what can be done to prevent it happening again?”

For me the answers to both questions, and many others, are found in psychological profiles of job candidates. For years I was a director of a national personnel agency called Integrated Workforce, which supplied labour to virtually every type of workplace. I’m now on a mission to convince Australian business leaders about the gains to be made from applying psychology to the selection and development of people in the workplace.

The psychometric profiles created by Canadian company Self Management Group (SMG) unlock many of the hiring mysteries that leave managers scratching their heads when people turn out to be very different from what they seemed.

SMG is one of the top profiling companies in North America. Since the late 1970s it has administered more than two million profiles that reveal how a person’s key personality traits will help or hinder them in a specific role.

The predictive profile gives the hiring manager a powerful third tool to augment the familiar processes of interviewing and resume checking.

SMG originally developed its profiling system to help companies improve their hiring success in one of the most difficult fields – all-commission sales.

SMG says this psychometric tool has been shown to be highly effective in identifying and selecting individuals who would thrive in highly competitive sales environments. It has been used and validated throughout North America, Asia and in other parts of the world to discover who will be consistent top performers, and is the instrument of choice for many of the most competitive financial services sales forces.

Many other corporations use SMG profiling to help them spot talent among candidates in sales, management, customer service and information technology.

It is this predictive aspect that differentiates SMG profiles. They’re not just a list of personality traits, they are a measurement of role-specific characteristics, hence the term psychometric.

The costs of hiring the wrong people are many: search expenses; interviewing; training; salary benefits; and, ultimately, dismissal. Then there’s the lost opportunity and having to start the cycle all over again. In my experience, the bill can reach six figures.

Profiling is for the benefit of everyone involved, not just management. Consider the case of a person being promoted to management because of successful performance at a lower level, yet not working out. I’ve seen it many times.

A person who should be happy at receiving a promotion ends up being miserable. Predictive profiling can help prevent this.

Organisations also have used profiling to discover talented people who would otherwise have been overlooked. People have gone from being bank clerks to highly compensated sellers of financial services within the same company after being profiled.

It isn’t only about hiring. Retention of a company’s top-performing employees is critically important to business success, even in a so-called buyer’s market for labour. Companies and other organisations that really care about who they are and what they represent are among our most interesting clients. They use predictive profiling as a way to match managers with the people who report to them, and to match people within workgroups. This reduces conflict and turnover, while increasing productivity.

But can it be trusted? Without giving away trade secrets, I can say that SMG profiles use three methods to detect distortion on the part of the applicant, making it very difficult to give a false impression.

SMG’s profiles have been found to be bias-free in studies by the US Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. Additionally, the profiles have been translated into several languages besides English, with more in the works.

I tell Australian business leaders that the benefits of predictive profiling are found on the top line of the balance sheet and the bottom line, but they are also seen in the wellbeing of the organisation and the happiness of its people.

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