Have you ever been personality profiled in your career? This tool, and its many profiling options, is getting more and more commonplace. If used wisely in the workplace, it can be an impactful insight to understand teams. It should identify areas that need support and encouragement as well as instil new ways of working together. In theory personality profiling is a good idea for a team as it’s all for the greater good of individuals’ development, team dynamics and ultimately business success.
Do you want to engage or disengage people?
It can also be helpful to your hiring strategy and identify the needs within the team when looking for relevant profiles. It’s not a case of finding people all in one category – far from it. It can be a good tool to ensure you’re building diversity in your team and avoiding hiring bias. In this instance, personality profiling can be a good idea for a team especially if you’re hiring a lot of people quickly.
On the other hand, these tools can be used as a blunt instrument. They’re often used as something to bolster team interest, hang changes onto and circumnavigate excuses for change. That might sound harsh, but I’ve experienced that happening first-hand. Many leaders invest in these tools but do little with the results and insight they bring. They may see it as a tick-box exercise and use it to justify their own position which is no help to anyone involved. Also, there is a risk of employees being labelled this or that, which can stick. Then they’re pigeon-holed as something this test has told them they are. Of course, under great leadership and team building this wouldn’t happen, but it’s a word of caution.
These profiling tools, if used properly and consistently, really can offer the insight needed to shift, change, enlighten and support. Their results can spearhead continued learning, which only makes the business and the people in it stronger and more aligned.
The personality test isn’t a new corporate thing. It emerged just after WW1 to assess psychological trauma of soldiers returning from war and it’s seen several nuances since. But what profiling tools are used today, and do they go beyond the traditional 16 personality types? Here are a couple of the most popular and a slightly more fun one too.
The most widely used and popular test was developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. It’s based on Jungian theory and around 2 million people take it annually. The Myers Briggs test is a simple way to decipher someone’s personality construct, and this is how the four-letter acronyms are derived. This test is used both personally and for businesses, often when hiring staff. Its questions determine where an applicant falls within four key groupings: Extraversion v Introversion, Judging v Perceiving, Intuition v Sensing and Thinking v Feeling. The results of these groupings place test-takers into one of 16 personality types. With 93 questions in all, it’s a fairly long assessment. You should allow enough time to understand and work with the outputs not just take the test. Not dissimilar to CliftonStrengths with 177 questions, it can feel quite corporate and intense.
This is based broadly on the categories: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance (DISC). It breaks into 28 statements each with four options for the test-taker to rate how they identify with the statement, ultimately resulting in one of 12 different personality types.
This is an accessible way of accessing the Myers Briggs theory along with an extra letter to accommodate five rather than four scales. The assessment includes an additional ‘Identity’ scale which addresses whether you’re Assertive or Turbulent. The reason here is that the test includes more analysis of which sides of the spectrum you sit with a trait-based assessment. Have you heard of the term Ambivert? Ambiversion means someone falls in the middle of the Introversion-Extraversion scale – not too outgoing or withdrawn. Trait-based theories would say that an Ambivert is x% moderately Extraverted or y% moderately Introverted and leave it at that, without assigning a personality type.
Kolbe focuses more on how you naturally approach tasks and work rather than being a personality test as such. An interesting concept for existing teams and also for hiring with a focus on strengths in the areas of Identifying, Optimising, Aligning and Expanding. Kolbe is a slightly different approach to personality profiling for a team.
Red Bull Wingfinder
This is a personality assessment that focuses on strengths and the things people are naturally inclined to be good at and gives tools and coaching to be even better. I like this one as it’s positive, fun and it dishes out tools to help. Appropriate for students and career seekers too, it’s a nice versatile option and it’s free.
These are just the tip of the iceberg of what’s out there and I would love to hear your experiences both from a leader and employee perspective. Even just doing a quick online search for “most popular/ top personality profiling tests” will generate pages of ads and Top 10s, 20, 30s etc.
I would encourage you to explore different options and choose one according to the outcome you need. A consultant who has paid for accreditation in one form of assessment will obviously say that’s the best one. So do your research and choose wisely.
Have you been pigeon-holed or have you found any particular assessment to be more insightful? Let me know your experiences and whether you’ve had different results at different life/ career stages too. If you’d like to discuss team building and development, do get in touch.