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The Problems With Personality Tests


TRANSCRIPT AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED I love a personality test. The second. I mentioned that I use personality assessments in my work. This is the number one thing people say to me. My follow-up question is usually well, which one's your favorite? And here I'll get a mix of answers. Actually it's probably dependent on their personality, which tests they prefer, but I've not done the research. So I can't say for sure. I'm going to ask what the profile means or what it tells them about themselves. Sometimes I'll get a nugget or two. But more often I get a sheepish grin and a shoulder shrug. While they tell me that they haven't read it in a while. But those who do have a nugget or two to share with me, I like to tell them my profile on that test. And say, well, what can you tell me? And almost everyone draws a blank. And that's the problem with personality tests. Personality tests are super fun to take and usually we'll get at least one piece of insightful information from them. But more often than not, the report gets filed away on some digital or cloud drive, never to be ready to gain. If it is red. The name of the profile makes the person feel some kind of way, and they're instantly turned off and it gets filed away. On some digital little Cod drive. Never to be right again. Or if they're reading the report in detail, maybe there's one line in that report that really doesn't apply to them. And they discount the remaining 99%. Assuming everything's unreliable. And it gets filed away on some digital cloud drive and never to be read again. And then you hear about the latest trending assessment and the cycle repeats until you've taken a bunch of assessments. And learned very little that's of use to you and your business. And when you bring teams into the mix, these problems can really expand. Let me tell you about my first experience with personality assessments. Towards the beginning of my banking career, we were all shuffled off. Our whole wider team was shuffled off to have a disc session. Right. Barely sure there was an NBTI. At some point as well, but the disc one really stands out for me. Now anyone who's known me for more than five minutes will know that I have a lot of D in my profile. And the D in disc is known for being driven and action oriented and determined. And direct and outspoken. All fairly traditional masculine tendencies. And you know, what happens to women in male dominated environments, displaying masculine tendencies. Assertive becomes your too aggressive. Passionate becomes you're too emotional. Unfortunately, rather than a session used to celebrate diversity in the team, how this could be used to communicate better, collaborate better. This session. Simply gave the wider, mostly male team, a formal way to publicly attack me. Ooh, careful your deer showing when I disagreed with them. Ooh, toned down your D when I made a perfectly valid point without adding the traditionally female trained. Sorry, I might be wrong about this, but points out a completely valid era. As you can imagine. I filed away that disc workbook in a drawer, never to be read again until I came across it when I was packing up to leave the bank. What I later learned by actually getting disc certified as part of my business. Is that it's not about the test. It's all about the follow-up. When done right. A personality assessment can be a powerful self-development. And team-building tool. When done wrong, they can cause more damage than you could ever expect. So what exactly does done right? Look like. Well, first of all, you need to know why are you using the assessments? I know it sounds really obvious, but different assessments look at different aspects of personality. Disc is focused on behavior and communication. Disc is an acronym for the four main personality types in the model. Dominance influence steadiness conscientiousness. NBTI. Looks at strengths and preferences. NBTI is where you have, the four different characteristics coming together to form the, the different profiles, introversion, extroversion, sensing, intuitive. Thinking feeling judging, perceiving, perceiving, I think is the right one. These two have both. Incredibly popular in the corporate world. Cobia a looks at the instinctive way that you take action. Strengths finder, surprisingly, as it says on the tin looks at your innate strengths, your talents. As you can see as a really important that you pick the right assessment for what you're planning to use it for. As a side note, because I know people will be thinking about this one. Enneagrams really popular in the entrepreneur land, the subject of many memes and listicles, but it is really less of an assessment and more of a self-selection. But your profile there shows how you really interpret the world. So you can see that all of these are really different and picking the right assessment. Depends on what you plan to use it for? What are you looking to assess? So, as I mentioned before, I use disc in my work and there are a few reasons for that. Principal. It's really easy to remember it. Whereas I find others like NBTI has so many options that people struggled to remember their own, let alone the rest of their teams. StrengthsFinder, I think is great for one-to-one development. But again, the volume of strengths. It's hard to remember for your team. I like Colby, but I also find that most people only remember a fact finder and quick start and can't even articulate what follow through implementer refer to. It's the right assessment for my purposes. When I'm running a session, I want a team to quickly develop an understanding of what each other needs and prefers to create better communication and collaboration. So disc which looks at behavior and communication is the right fit for what I want to assess. It's easy to make disc visual. So NBTI for example, has so many combinations. It's hard to pull it into kind of a visual reminder. Whereas disc is a really simple, full quadrant. View. But it's also important to notice that just because it looks simple doesn't mean that it doesn't give you a wealth of complex information. Disc also offers additional insight. Disc allows for three views for each person, their core profile. How they're showing up. And how they behave under stress . What disc allows by having that, how you show up kind of profile is that it allows you to grow as a person to develop some EEQ. To understand that you have your natural personality type and it might need some tweaking to get the best results based on the environment that you're in. And all three of these, the core, the how you're showing up and how you react under stress. I can be replicated at a team department and a business level. To give you additional insights. And finally I have what one person on my disc training characterized as a nightmare of a profile. Now no profile is better or worse than others. But having a profile that on first glance appears. Really quite tough. Allows me to immediately put anybody else with a similar profile at ease. And stop anybody else thinking that they can use that person's profile to bully them in any way. Okay. So knowing what you're going to recess. Drives which personality assessment you use. Okay. Number two, you really want to set the scene before you give your team a bunch of assessments to take. So again, you need to know why you're doing this so that you can articulate that to your team, because if they're afraid that their job security, their bonus, their promotion. And their career, anything depends on the outcome of their assessment. Their answers are going to reflect what they believe you want to hear. Which could lead to skewed results and need you really both done completely the wrong path. In further development kind of conversations. Once everyone has. Taken the assessments. The third step is to ensure that there's follow-up. It's not simply enough to give everyone the test and have them share their profiles. You have to help them to understand their profile, the team profile and how it all fits together to get any value at all. This can be a team discussion at a bare minimum. But most of the assessments that I've mentioned recommend you get follow-up with a certified consultants. And the reason for this is that the value in the personality assessment. Is in that follow-up is in understanding your profile and how it fits with those around you. When I run sessions, I find people who haven't read the report at all. Like they know what their profile is called and that's it. On the flip side, I've got people who have read that report line by line. Taking what they agree with. And then they found one or two things that didn't sound like them. And so now I've now decided that the report is completely unreliable. When in fact, every report is designed to cover. What the most common elements of those personalities are, people are still unique. They're not their personality assessment, right. We also have people who feel kind of bad about themselves, right? Until they're shown the power in their profile. It's people like me who have a quote unquote, nightmare of a profile. Cam without context, be laid to feel quite bad about themselves. I find people who want a certain profile, cause it's got a really cool name and are then disappointed that that's not their profile. Or people who've tried to answer for their job and their profiles completely wrong. That as soon as they start talking, that can get picked up. And often these personality assessments, the followup and the reports are really good at corporate environments. And so people in the more online business entrepreneurial space can find them quite jarring. And. Not as relevant until you can pull it back. And give them the high level view of their role in their team. And pretty much everyone in the sessions that I ride has looked only at their own profile. Not at the team profile. Or how they contribute to it or the best way to communicate with it. Personality assessments, particularly in teams can't be looked at in a vacuum. You need to be able to understand how your personality interacts with somebody else's personality. So that you can adjust. Or understand. Now, if you're going to DIY personality assessments with your team. And you're not prepared to do any of this work around the actual assessment. You would be better off grabbing whatever the latest buzz feed style. What fruit are you quiz? And just giving that to your team, have some lighthearted Friday phone, because that's probably going to be about as valuable in developing and leading your team. On the flip side if you would like me to facilitate a communication collaboration and conflict session with your team i'm going to throw a link in the show note you can give it one booked in But here's a summary of what happens everybody does their disc assessment and then we have a two hour session with the full team To really help them get to know themselves and they teammates at a much deeper level The session covers getting to know their personal superpowers their personal challenges Or types of project or roles would be a great fit for them to help them understand how they contribute to the team in their own unique way We talk about the communication styles across the team right a lot of conflict comes from how something is said and received and when we can learn each other's natural way of communicating it helps everybody adapt and understand the intention Behind the words more easily And we look for collaboration opportunities but openly talking about superpowers and challenges. The team is better able to see where they can step up and where they can ask for help more easily from others with that necessary superpower. So the goal is to get the team Working together more efficiently and more effectively If that sounds good There's a link in the show notes or if you've got any questions about it you can just shoot me a dm on instagram

Everyone loves a personality test so why do some many of them land up in a digital junk drawer instead of being used?

Key Takeaway

It’s not about the test, but the follow-up. This is where the real understanding and value comes for the individual and the business.

In This Episode

  • Why personality assessments have problems
  • 3 things you MUST do for the assessment to be effective
  • The key to getting value from the exercise 



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The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this podcast episode and article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article or episode. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Diane Mayor disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.