Jordan Peterson on Workplace Performance, Politics & Faulty Myers-Briggs

Jordan Peterson on Workplace Performance, Politics & Faulty Myers-Briggs

so back in 1968 there was a guy named Walter Mischel and he had reviewed he's a social psychologist he reviewed the personality literature up to that point and concluded that the typical personality measure only predicted the typical performance measure at about point two and that's actually remained relatively stable I would say it's a little higher than that's probably 0.25 especially if you do things like correct for measurement error and so forth and what Michelle said was because it's only 0.25 let's say you square that that's 5% of the variance you leave 95% of the phenomena unexplained you might as well not even bother measuring personality and so that actually killed the field of personality from a psychometric perspective for about 25 years really until about the early 1990s when people woke up and thought wait a minute what are the typical effect sizes in other domains of prediction and then they found out that well the point two zero correlation that was typical of personality prediction was actually pretty damn good by social sciences or Health Sciences standards it doesn't sound good when you just think about it as a absolute measure because it leaves 95 percent of the phenomena unexplained but when you compare it to other things that people consider of reasonable magnitude then it turns out that personality psychologists are doing just fine and then also in the 1990s and I'll show you some of this the REC anomic calculations done and so one of the calculations would be well imagine that you have maybe it took 20 companies and you did a distribution of the productivity of their employees it's hard thing to do because you have to measure their productivity so how the hell do you do that right with salespeople you can measure sales that's pretty straightforward with lawyers you can measure hours build like there's some there are some occupations where the performance measure is sort of built into the job but if you're a manager in the mid level of a large corporation how the hell can you tell how productive you are it's it's so there's a measurement problem on the productivity measurement and as well as the performance prediction end and it's a very intractable problem and the way that people often do that is by saying well let's say you're a manager in the mid level of a corporation how do we determine how productive we are you are well we might ask you to compare your your work productivity with your peers maybe construct up a questionnaire asking about your efficient use of time and so forth and then we might get your peers to do the same thing to you we might get your supervisors to do the same thing to you and we might get your your subordinates to do the same thing to you and then aggregate across all those measures and infer that that aggregate opinion actually constitutes a valid measure of productivity you actually don't know right because that assumes that what you're doing that your peers and your supervisors and so forth are rating is actually related in some positive manner to the bottom line of the company and you actually don't you actually can't figure that out this is actually I think why my large companies start to become unstable is because if there's enough layers between the operations of the people in the tiers of the corporation and the real outcome measure which is basically profit because that's what we've got then the relationship between your activity as a manager and the productivity of the company starts to become increasingly blurred and that might mean that you're working as hard as you can on something that's actually going to cost the company money so you'd actually be much more productive from a profit perspective if you just didn't go to work at all and that that happens a lot in large corporations because you'd never know especially if there's a lot of steps that have to be undertaken in a process before you can test the product in the market you have no idea if you're wasting time and resources you just can't tell so the performance measurement issue is a very very complicated one we haven't talked about it that much but I give you a kind of a brief overview of it now what you really want to do is have multiple sources of information about performance and aggregate across them and if you can use real-world measures that are tied to to income generation so much the better because you have to use something as your gold standard right you have to say at some point well we're going to define this as reality when it comes to performance and in a free market economy roughly what you do there is you say that what profit is the proxy for productivity and that isn't the same thing saying is that it isn't the same thing as saying that profit is productivity that's not the same thing it's saying that at some point you have to decide what you're going to accept as a measure of productivity because otherwise there's no point even talking about it and you can't just not talk about productivity if you're running an organization because the organization doesn't exist unless it produces something that will keep it going and generally that happens to be money so anyways it's quite it's very complicated all of this and I was also curious all right because because I'm curious I guess is to find out what would happen if I took a measure that was derived in the lab and then tried to launch it out in a in the actual real-world environment tried to market and sell it and now that was very informative because I presume that we developed tests which I'll talk to you about they were actually pretty good at predicting performance managerial performance for example administrative performance we got hours of upwards of 0.6 which is you know really bloody impressive so we could we could tell employers look if you use our tests we can increase the probability that you'll hire an above-average employee from 50/50 to 8020 and the economic benefit of that will be staggering staggering and I'll show you the calculations that enable that sort of that sort of prediction to be made and you might think well and this is what you do think if you're naive about producing something of value you might think well if you can produce something that's of self-evident economic value selling it will be a snap and that is so wrong you just cannot believe it so one of the things we found which was really mind-boggling to me was that you could make a case that the probability that a company will use a test that predicts performance the Pro the probability that they will use the test is inversely related to the accuracy of the test which basically means that the less accurate tests are easier to sell you think well why the hell would that be why enough how in the world would it possibly be the corporation's would rather buy tests that don't work than tests that do work and that that is what they do because really what they do buy is the myers-briggs right that sells about a million units a year and the myers-briggs has zero predictive utility with regards to performance prediction so why do people use it well here's one reason it doesn't hurt anybody's feelings everybody wins right and so then you think well do corporations really care whether or not everybody wins when they're being tested and the answer to that is yes much more often than you would think so so we hit all sorts of barriers that was one the problem with tests that work is that most of the people who take them don't do very well on them and then the other problem is is that people people aren't good at statistical reasoning at all they're really really bad at it and so for example they don't know the difference between a percentage and a percentile so a percentage is you know if you get 40% on a test that means you've got 40% of the questions right if you if you are at the 40th percentile in the distribution of test scores it means that you perform better than 40% of the people that's actually not too bad right but you'll think no that's not 40 percentile that's 40 percent and then you'll think that you failed and so one of the things we found for example was that when we were when we were marketing the tests to mid-level managers who had some say at least on whether or not they would be used the first thing they would say is well I want to do the test and the thing you say about that is no you don't because this is derived statistically you can't validate the test on the basis of your opinion about its applicability in your case but you can't have that conversation that isn't going to go anywhere because they say well I'd never give a test to my employees that I hadn't taken myself it's like okay so then you think well you're a typical manager you're going to score at the 50th percentile you are not going to be happy about that because you want to score at the 90th percentile because you confuse percentiles and percentages and also because you don't notice that if you're doing better than 50% of the managers that's actually pretty damn good question yeah there that that's a good I'll answer that as I go through this okay okay so so that was off to that dead started right there and then the other thing we'd find this was cool too a horrible but cool so imagine large corporation and you go in and you try to make a sales pitch to someone and maybe they're in HR and they say and you say to them look you could use these tests if you use it for a hundred people will increase your bottom line by two million dollars a year you think people would be jumping up and down about that and they say well how much does it cost and we say well it doesn't because the cost to benefit ratio is what you should care about not the cost because they would want to say for nine dollars a test it was like no if you do this for each and I'll show you the mathematics in a bit each person that you select with this test will bring twenty thousand dollars of extra value to your company you're not getting that for nine dollars and then they say well wait a minute we have a budget for testing that's limited to nine dollars a test and say well it's going to produce thirty thousand dollars a year in revenue they say well that revenue goes to another branch of the company and we won't get any credit for it we'll just get punished because we've exceeded our but our budget for selection I thought oh yeah never never never expected that to come up as an obstacle so you know so we had very well designed products um they also took about 90 minutes because we this we started with a full-scale neuropsychological assessment so we we took tests of dorsal lateral prefrontal cortical ability which had before that being administered by neuropsychologist and we computerized them we did that back in 1993 so it was among the first attempts to do this sort of thing and then we had a 90 minute test battery that also assessed the big five and then you could give that to employees and you know you could you could produce this 8020 differential that I described and well then we found out what the test was too long it's like what do you mean you're going to gain $30,000 a year per employee if you use this test like don't people don't want to be tested that log it's like okay so you want an accurate test that doesn't discriminate against anybody that makes everyone feel good that's dirt cheap and that doesn't take any time at all it's like well it took us about 15 years to build one of those after we had built the original thing that actually worked and so even then the the the process of trying to introduce it into the workplace was almost impossible the other thing you find if you're trying to sell the large companies this is this is worth knowing is that it's great if you can sell to a large company because it's a large company man and so you the potential for the sale is astronomical but large companies are so slow you cannot believe it and so it might take you three years first of all you have to find who you should talk to that's impossible because the all the people that you can talk to have no decision-making power whatsoever so all you do is waste your time talking to them they'll talk to you they'll have meetings with you but it won't matter because they don't have any decision-making power and then you can't get access to people who have the decision-making power because they don't let you have access to them and so so that's a huge problem and even figuring them out is a huge problem and even figuring out that those are the people that you need to talk to is a huge problem that might take you five years just to get it through your head that you're wasting your time 95% of the time talking to the wrong people and so then the next thing that happens this is really this is really comical so let's say you do make some headway it takes you three bloody years you've made a relationship with the person they're ready to launch it then they have to market it internally and that takes them a year because they have to convince everybody to get on board and then the corporation reshuffles and the person that you're dealing with disappears it's like that happened to us we were marketing to a very large company we would got all the way up to the CEO and ready to with this was with the Future authoring program and we were ready to launch the damn product it took us a huge amount of time to get through all the layers and just the week that we were going to launch at the seal resigned then the company start crashed and that was the end of that Bank

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23 thoughts on “Jordan Peterson on Workplace Performance, Politics & Faulty Myers-Briggs

  1. The problem with the Myers-Briggs isn’t the test, it is how companies use it. It was never meant to be a predictor of success or ability. I think it is a good tools to use after people are hired, it gives you insight into what motivates them, the environment they thrive in, and their preferred style of communication. My type is INTJ, I would NOT do my best work in a group setting, that is unless you expected me to lead the and direct the group. I was given the predictive index test and then told I was not suitable for the job I’ve been doing for the last 15 years! Since then if asked to take a pre-employment test I just get up, say thanks for your time, and leave!

  2. I think part of it is the Self-sustaining Bureaucracy of any large organization. Here is what I mean. I think for some jobs, the people doing those job know that their job is basically useless, may be counterproductive etc. If you have a test that figures out which jobs are useless etc, then you will have a lot of people out of the job in many large organizations.

    Especially for some managers, most of the operation is basically running on autopilot and the manager is there for approval purposes.

  3. If they have a cheap budget from a different department, you need to sell them that it’s worth asking for more money.

  4. 6:20 Myers-Briggs has Zero predictive ability re: productivity. 6:25 So Why Do People Use It? It doesn't hurt anyone's feelings and Bc everybody wins……..this is exactly what I have seen in corporations. The prevailing leadership development theory is that the "leader" is the key ingredient on a team – that all team members can be equally valuable and productive provided the right structure is created. From my experience this is just simply not so – though the prevailing theory does sell a lot more leadership development coaching courses!!!

  5. I disagree With Jordan, you have to influence people to get the result. It does not take years, it takes conversations, the right ones.

  6. one problem with employment tests is that a significant number of people taking them are to some degree going to give responses that they think will play to their employers, not actual truthful responses. if someone is applying for a sales job and they have to take a big 5 personality inventory for example, they will probably give responses that boost their extraversion higher than it really is

  7. The problem with this is…that it does not reflect the complexity of the human experience in workplace performance….People are not robots. It seems to me based on a "fixed" not a "growth" mindset. How do you measure the impact of those wounded by low scores? This test seems more about an intellectual pissing contest (I write that with some whimsy), than a concrete this is how to test for success test. You could have an entire team of engineers willing to quit and start a new company, and that could shift based on the quality of one of those engineer's relationship to senior management. Tests like this leave out the complexity of the human experience… It's like the old obsession with efficiency; everyone should be after effectiveness. The latter could be influenced by offering employees free coffee or free lunches… or paid leave for pet loss… more so than hiring "perfectly."

  8. The reason Corporations prefer M-B is not because it isn't accurate, but because it is a reasonable predictor of peace and quiet in the office. Since most employees 'live' their work, that is their work is their life and their 'home life' is subordinate to their 'work life', a higher priority is put on sociability and cooperation than on actual productivity and profit. So ultimately it is a failure of management to focus on performance at all, not their mistaken understanding of M-B.

  9. This the real Jordan Peterson, Sales sales sales. Remember that when you believe any of his theories and stories.

  10. I’ve been in senior management in Human Resources since 1989. As an HR Consultant my area off specialty is Compensation management and performance management. I’m a trained sociologist.

    Once again, Peterson is out of his area of expertise.

    For instance. Sales is a terrible metric for a salespersons performance. Sales can slump for any number of reasons unrelated to competency.

    Personality tests don’t work as a predictor of performance because they don’t take into account flexibility. Some people can work well outside of their Myers-Briggs profile. Others cannot. Other psych tests are no more compelling in practice.

  11. It sounds like the companies who want to introduce JP's test are struggling in terms of performance. So they are desperate and unstable and close to collapse. They want something that will work but that isn't too risky. Because there is a high chance the company will fail – and if it fails the REPUTATION of those who were at the helm when it went down needs to be preserved. Imagine if JP's test did work but the company collapsed anyway, people will think the test contributed to the failure. Whereas Myers Briggs is a safe option, it doesn't really change anything, and so people will think the blame lies somewhere else and those who implemented it can still claim credit because they are implementing an industry standard.

    I reckon its way way better to propose JP's test to smaller start-up, entrepreneurial-type companies looking to expand, in exchange for a percentage of future profits, based on the same metrics you said would improve performance relative to peers.

  12. It’s like an ASVAB test in the army. I always thought it was a grade until someone told me no you scored above 86% of people.

  13. The evidence here does not suggest that Myers Briggs is faulty, despite the video title. It was not developed as a performance management tool but has strengths in identifying certain balances of human aptitude, helping people recognising potential and learning about thought processing hierarchies and social dynamics. If people are picking it to fulfil a function it is not capable of, that does not mean Myers Briggs is faulty, but that their test selection process is faulty. Pretty obvious – like calling a car faulty because it will not sail down the river.

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