Can human behaviour at work be predicted?

By Martin Cloutier, Partner, Director D-Teck and Organizational Psychologist

These days, predictability is important:

we want to predict the weather, sports scores, our chances at business success, financial data, stock market quotations, and more. Webster defines prediction as "the act of announcing something in advance, predicting the future". I’m sure you’ll agree that understanding the science of predictability can be esoteric, so it should come as no surprise that it attracts some people and disinterests others.


The work world is following this trend.

The greater the ability of decision makers to accurately predict the future, the most successfully they will be able to align their strategic and tactical decisions, to attain organizational objectives. To this end, major companies have long used psychometric tests to predict a candidate’s behaviour before hiring or promotion, or to support an employee’s development.

Business leaders, however, do not always see the benefit of using psychometric tests. Not only is there a dizzying array of such tools in the market, making it very hard to choose, but there also is no guarantee of a sound return on the investment. After all, predicting human behaviour is not the same as predicting the path of a projectile because there is a measure of ambiguity linked to this type of assessment.

With the aid of a psychometric test, is it possible to predict specific behaviours of a person and target that person’s talents and risk factors at an affordable price for the company? Definitely!

With psychometric tests, you can predict such factors as:

  • How your employee will react under intense stress;
  • How your new manager will behave in a position of power;
  • How your director will act when unpopular announcements must be made;
  • How your professional will approach solving complex problems;
  • How able your engineer will be to suggest efficient cost-saving measures;
  • How your foreman will handle situations of conflict;
  • How your director will react in change management;
  • And much more.

How is it possible to predict these behaviours, given the immense complexity of human nature? As a specialist in human behaviour at work, an organizational psychologist has at least seven years of post-graduate studies, as much as some medical specialties. With this training, an organizational psychologist can gain a thorough understanding of worker and manager dynamics and thus predict their behaviour using certain powerful tests (including psychometric tests). Just as physicians have specific tools they use in making a diagnosis, organizational psychologists have their own. Using these tests, they are able to make clear recommendations on an employee’s or manager’s chances of success in a position. And the error rate is very low, much better than a weather forecaster!

Have a great vacation!

The D-Teck team