Your individual personality is a combination of your unique characteristics, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Over time, as a result of a series of influences including your environment, your experiences, and genetics, your personality develops. To better understand the complexity of someone’s personality, there is the option to take a personality test. Personality tests are an interesting tool to learn more about yourself and others. They can be used in a number of different settings, but if they’re going to be implemented in the workplace, employers and employees should recognize how they work, and how they can best serve their purpose in working together to reach a common goal.
What to Know About Personality Tests
When it comes to learning more about yourself through a personality test, the specific test you take can have an impact on your results. Each test has different classifications and measurements, but how the test is performed may also affect the final result. Self-reporting personality tests, where the individual keeps to themselves to answer a series of questions are the most common types of test. There are a plethora of different tests out there to choose from, most of which are accessible online, here are just a few of the more popular assessments:
- One of the most popular self-reporting personality tests is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. There are sixteen possible personality types one can receive as a result. Through a questionnaire in which you rate your sentiment regarding a variety of statements, you’ll see how you measure up on four different scales: Extroversion - Introversion, Sensing - Intuition, Thinking - Feeling, Judging - Perceiving. This test gives an overview of each type’s strengths, weaknesses, interpersonal skills, workplace practices, and more.
- The DiSC assessment is most commonly used to understand workplace culture. It’s important to note that DiSC does not fully encompass someone’s personality but it works to understand their behaviors. Behavior is considered an important component of one’s personality, but not its entirety. DiSC stands for dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness. Using these four components, there are twelve possible combinations that a person can be.
- The Big Five or Five-Factor Model, is another test that looks at five specific traits, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness, and extroversion.
- A test that has recently grown in popularity is the Enneagram. There are nine possible results that a person can get from this test. This test is centered around the idea of three centers of intelligence, the heart, the body, and the head. The body represents sensory awareness and intuition, the head represents critical thinking, and rational decision-making, while the heart deals with empathy, and emotion.
What Personality Tests Can Do for the Workplace
Each and every possible personality test has its own nuances, but regardless of the test you choose to implement in your workplace the ideas they stir and benefits they can bring are all similar.
When working on a team it’s important to recognize everyone’s unique point of view, and way of accomplishing tasks. As author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins says, “To effectively communicate we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” Hypothetically consider an employee that finds they are more introverted than extroverted, after asking them to elaborate on how this personally affects them, a colleague, peer, or mentor can better understand that this employee’s best ideas are more likely to appear in a session one-on-one, as opposed to a large group brainstorm. Taking the time, and putting in the work to understand how others operate, communicate and perceive another’s actions can help create a more productive and considerate work environment for all.
Not only do personality tests create dialogue and heightened awareness of others, they also improve an employee’s own self-awareness. In the previous example, the introverted employee has an opportunity to discuss the results of their personality test, how accurately or incorrectly it represents them, and how those results translate into their daily work. Most personality tests often come with detailed explanations of daily habits and definitions of specific traits. These can serve as guides for employees to better articulate what they feel and how they process their thoughts and emotions. They can evaluate their own intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and the practices that allow them to complete the job to the best of their abilities.
What to Consider when Implementing Personality Tests
Personality tests can be used as part of the hiring process to get a better understanding of potential candidates. They can be used to integrate new hires into the workplace. Or, they can be used with established employees, to help them in different ways including transitioning to a new team, or simply refreshing and reconnecting with others in the workplace.
These assessment results should not be used from a definitive standpoint, it would not be wise to use them as the deciding factor in hiring decisions, putting a team together, or promotions. What they should do instead is contribute to a more cooperative, unified way of thinking and working together. It’s about opening the door to effective communication with any employee, and using the tests as a different method of learning about new candidates, recognizing a new point of view, and fully understanding what an employee needs to succeed. As CEO and business leader Robert F. Smith says, “Most people just don't have the courage, because you kind of hire what you know and what you see as opposed to building solutions that can actually help you scale your business more effectively, and frankly more efficiently, through different methods.”
Ultimately, it’s not about the specific result of the personality test, it’s about opening up the conversation to discuss effective work and management styles. See this as an opportunity to celebrate people’s unique perspectives, and bring a team closer together.
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