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Are Personality Tests in the Workplace Beneficial?

Personality tests can draw a portrait of an individual so an organisation can learn more about the roles that would best suit them, the skills they possess and how best they would respond to other personality types.

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The idea behind a personality test is simple and can come in a few different formats, such as questionnaires, surveys, and assessments that are used to categorise personality types based on mindset, preference, and behavioural patterns.

They can paint a picture of a person that ultimately helps an organisation understand where an individual would be best suited within the business, where their skills lay, what management style they might respond to, and ultimately how to get the best out of them.

A personality test will offer data to an organisation, and this data enables both employee and employer a broader scope when deciding how best to work with different personality types. And in the end, that is the difference between a successful business and one that isn’t performing as efficiently as it could be.

Of course, that’s not to say that the results of these tests should be taken as an exact science, but it can help when trying to build your business around varying personality types.

Balance

Any successful business needs a range of employees with varying skills and personalities in order to deliver exactly what is expected of them. Sure, a team built up of the same personality types may well possess the same strengths and will therefore inevitably excel in certain aspects, but on the flip side, they will share the same weaknesses too.

For example, let’s say that a team is made up of only ambitious personality types, the scope and scale for every project would predictably shoot through the roof and nothing would ever be completed on time.

By taking the time to understand the different personalities within your business, you can begin to work towards blending each department with complementary skills, thereby solidifying any inherent weaknesses with the strengths of others in the group.

When doing this you need to consider:

  • What kind of industry the business operates in.
  • What the goals are of each team.
  • What each department is responsible for.

These are invaluable things to ask yourself, and personality tests can reveal insight that is vital when trying to decide how to blend personality types. For example, while some may prefer to work methodically and at a pace that suits them to ensure everything, they do is incredibly consistent.

On the other hand, others prefer to work quickly in order to move to the next task, so it’s really no use placing these kinds of people in a role that requires in-depth data study, this personality type would be far better suited to a faced-past customer-facing role.

Recruiting

The data you collect during your personality tests can also help you to pinpoint and resolve any personality gaps within your organisation. In addition to this, personality tests can help bring fresh life into existing teams by mixing up the dynamic.

For example, you might find that you have a team that works hard and contains qualified staff members, but something just isn’t quite falling into place. In this scenario, perhaps this team is need of someone with a strong leadership ethic that is capable of pulling everyone’s shared effort together to move towards a common goal.

On the other hand, you might find an individual within one of your teams with, who has recently been hired with a similar issue, where things just aren’t quite clicking. In this case, if you’d done a pre-hire personality test, it may have revealed that they work best in an environment that lends itself to solitude.

Pre-hire personality testing is on the up, and according to a survey of international HR specialists conducted by CEB 62% of respondents indicated that they use personality tests before hiring new members of staff.

Harmony

Another area in which personality tests can be highly advantageous is in maintaining harmony and preventing conflict escalation. By understanding exactly what makes people tick, what their stressors are, or what irritates them, it means you can lead your teams through periods of conflict by ensuring they are deescalated far more quickly.

For example, if you know someone in your purchasing department finds being under pressured time constraints incredibly stressful, then you might want to ensure that they are left to their own devices come invoice day.

Equally, if two competitive personalities on your sales team spend more time in competition than working together, you might find that giving them each a team to manage helps to channel that competitive energy into something more positive, rather than them each trying to score points off each other in the same environment.

Development

Personality tests can also be used to cultivate and direct personal development for your employees, by mapping out where weaknesses could be improved and what someone is already especially proficient at.

This can form the basis of not only areas you’d like your employees to work on, but also where you can help them overcome their drawbacks.

For instance, if your data shows that someone leans towards being especially introverted, which means they rarely feel confident to speak out in meetings or contribute their ideas in certain scenarios, you might find that this person may need another environment where they can speak up and be creative.

Another excellent benefit to this is that each personality test will assign scores or dimensions to certain personality traits which means the data is easy to measure and will enable you to track progress over time.

Bonding

Something that we’ve done at Quibble, is share each other’s tests amongst the team, so we can get together and discuss the results. We found it to quite a fun and involving activity.

Overall, it allows people to get to know each other a little better and to learn each other’s idiosyncrasies and behaviours and the reasons for them.

Ultimately, once people are able to understand each other, they can improve communication and identify those who share similar traits to themselves, which can be a big confidence builder when difficult decisions or problematic situations crop up.

Are There Any Downsides?

Of course, as with just about anything in the workplace, there are a few downsides to personality testing.

Cost

The first and most obvious issue here is the cost associated with rolling out personality testing. Depending on the kind of test you choose and the size of your organisation, it could cost money to take and will certainly cost your business some time when everyone needs to find a moment to actually complete it.

Even then though, so long as you’re putting the data you’ve collected to good use and you’ve chosen a relevant personality test, you may find that you can make savings along the road as you begin to sharpen current skills and develop those which require improvement.

It’s important to note though, that you should encourage your employees to answer as honestly as possible. There are no right or wrong answers, so you must stress that all personality types are welcome, no matter where their skills or weaknesses lie.

However, a potential pitfall to this is that once an employee finds themselves categorised into a certain personality type, it could impact their attitude towards their working life. For example, perhaps they may feel that because they are naturally averse to huge challenges, they will no longer need to strive to try something new.

The very last thing you need is for people to perceive their natural limitations as complete barriers to certain roles, responsibilities or opportunities. This is the biggest risk you’ll find when you’re attempting to put people into certain boxes, so to speak.

This can be alleviated from the outset, by being clear that, while these tests are designed to label individuals to a certain extent, they aren’t completely defined personas, in which someone should feel as though they aren’t able to branch out should they wish to.

It can also help to ensure that all management and leadership staff are asked to take the test too. After all, you want to create an inclusive culture and it’s difficult to justify the legitimacy of rolling out tests like this if you aren’t willing to take them yourself.

Data

If you plan to use personality tests to form part of team-building sessions and discussions, it’s crucial that you gain each individual’s consent to do so. This can actually become a divisive exercise if you find that many of your team members don’t want to share this kind of information – this will certainly be the case if a few members of your team didn’t get the results they wanted or expected.

Either way, this kind of information must be treated in the same careful manner as any other personal information you have on your employees, to ensure that you remain compliant with any data protection legislation.

Takeaways

All in all, personality tests offer unique and valuable insight into the attitude, behaviour and inclinations of your employees. This information can then be used to create a much happier and productive working environment.

Your teams will get the chance to get to know each other, themselves and their senior management better; this will aid in building an atmosphere conducive to open communication and effective teamwork.

It’s important to bear in mind though, that while a good mixture of personalities is very important, there is much more to building a successful team, and no decision should be based solely on the results of a single test.

Overall, the process should be fun, honest and open – be sure to remind your employees that all personality types offer equal value in the workplace.

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