Everybody wants to get into our mind. How to do it? We test. Why do we do it? So many noble reasons:
- We need to find the right applicant (meaning of course we reject all others)
- We need to place the right person in the right position
- We must know a person’s proclivities for the safety of others in the workplace
- We need to know personalities for group harmony
- We need to know ourselves so we can improve our lives
The list is endless, all reasons honorable (to our way of thinking), but here is the most important question:
Who has the right to administer the test?
Do any of us have the right to delve into the deep recesses of another’s mind? Are we not entitled to personal privacy there?
Several years ago Edoc Service provided lead-generation service to a client company that offered psychological testing in the workplace. The services of our client seemed reasonable and since we relied on top-performing project leaders I thought, “why not see if we can find a benchmark for hiring key staff.” So we did it. I insisted all the staff take the test, including myself to establish a gauge to “clone” our best performers with future hires.
Two reports were generated on each staff member. One report was given to the test taker offering soft suggestions for improvement. The second, given only to me, offered the “real scoop” regarding penchants not for public view. My operations manager and I visited the client anxious for the ultimate results. We were presented with a scatter-gram that was difficult to “connect the dots” and a personal consult regarding staff performance. The process also provided some intimate thought patterns and abilities (or lack thereof) previously unknown about each team member tested.
Upon leaving the office I turned to my operations manager and asked, “Does employing people in our company give us the right to look into their minds?” I was angry and appalled for allowing this to happen. I went back to the home office, shred all the documents and thanked the staff for participating in the experiment. I promised never to do it again. Soon thereafter we were contacted by another (startup) firm offering the same service seeking lead generation. As a preview to the meeting they wanted to test me (the CEO) and all the project leaders so they could determine the “best fit” for their needs with our people! I refused the test and a meeting was set. The new-company principles had varied backgrounds, one was an auto mechanic and the other an IT specialist. The only psychologist in the mix was the one who designed and sold the rights to the test.
Does this sound a little scary to you? It did to me and I immediately followed up with a letter suggesting they could perhaps be best served by another lead generation company. I don’t think the company still exists.
Now back to the question along with my conclusion. It is a lie that we are generally permitted to explore the inner-workings of another’s mind. This requires such a high degree of restraint most of us are incapable of. Furthermore, we mortals are not predictable machines! We are spiritual beings and the spiritual realm (largely unknown to us) is supernatural and therefore unpredictable. Miraculous changes in fellow humans often occur. We are all uniquely made in the image of God, but did He give us permission to look into His face? People cannot be placed in silos or pigeon-holed. Besides, our personalities can swing suddenly from calm to infantile or even go ballistic with some unforeseen trigger!
Now let’s be honest and admit that psychological testing is more about voyeurism and gossip than about science. We have the ability to learn what we need through honest dialog where all parties share what they want and when.
I will concede that some clinical settings warrant testing: Psychologists helping individuals work through mental struggles, counselors helping with relationships or a specialist placing someone in a position of tremendous harm; we need to know the finger on the nuclear device is a sane one. Beyond these it is best to avoid this “Tower of Babble.”
READ MORE: If you like this article you will want to read “Hiring?“
Jim Mullaney is President and CEO of Edoc Service, Inc. a “Fast 55” virtual company based in Cincinnati, Ohio.