How Can Personality Assessments Help Build a Better Team?
Did you know that there are at least 17,000 words in the English language that describe aspects of personality? As human beings we tend to be both fascinated and puzzled by each other’s personalities, especially in the ways that our personalities drive our behaviour.
It’s pretty well accepted that diverse teams are more creative and innovative than highly homogeneous teams – and this diversity applies to personality as well as other factors such as gender, ethnicity, skill sets, age and so on.
That’s why, in this month’s roundup, instead of sharing articles on leadership topics, I’m sharing with you a bird’s eye view of three personality tests that are commonly used in the workplace.
A caveat here – I’d like to emphasize that all of these assessments need to be taken in context and used with a degree of caution. Assessments can help you develop greater self-awareness as well as insights that aid towards better understanding others. But none of us fits neatly into a box, and the last thing I’d want to see is that people use personality assessments to pigeonhole themselves or others. We are all complex, multi-faceted individuals.
So, on to the personality tests that I’ve chosen for a closer look:
The Big Five
I wonder how many of you have come across the 5-Factor Personality Assessment? Also known as CANOE and OCEAN, or the Big Five, it’s supported by academic research as the most reliable. However it’s not marketed by any one specific company and is widely available, either at no cost or for a nominal fee. Google this test and you’ll come up with a list of sites where you can take an online quiz – for example through Psychology Today at www.psychtests.com . Employers can access more complex tests for this assessment through a variety of consultants.
The Big Five test evaluates your personality on five dimensions: Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Openness to Experience, Extroversion, and Emotional Stability. (The acronyms CANOE and OCEAN are based a classification which uses the term Neuroticism to denote a low level of Emotional Stability).
Information from this assessment can help determine the best work environment for an individual – for example someone who rates high on Conscientiousness would do well in tasks that require close attention to detail, while someone who rates high on Openness to Experience will readily embrace change, an asset in today’s often turbulent workplace environment. One who rates high with both Extroversion and Agreeableness would thrive in a position where there’s plenty of interaction, but not do so well in a role where they have limited contact with other people. To build a strong, productive team, you’d want to have a mix of characteristics among team members.
Kolbe A™️ Index
Developed by Kathy Kolbe – a renowned American educator, theorist, bestselling author, human justice advocate, and entrepreneur. The Kolbe A ™️ Index is not based on personality type theory, but rather it’s based on extensive research on how the conative part of the mind works. If you hadn’t heard this term before you are not alone. My spell-checker automatically changes the word to cognitive! A brief explanation – while the cognitive brain deals with intellect and the affective brain deals with our emotions, the conative brain deals with how we act on our thoughts and feelings.
When you build a team, you’ll want a balance of strengths in the four dimensions identified through the assessment – Fact Finders, Follow Throughs, Quick Starts and Implementers – and the varying levels of these four types. For example, in the “Follow Through” dimension, one person may be great at designing systems, while another excels at developing shortcuts. Knowing the scores of people on your team will help you better understand them, and as a manager, you’ll be better able to assign tasks and responsibilities to the appropriate team member.
You’ll find the assessment on the Kolbe website: www.kolbe.com. At around $50 US, some might find it a bit pricey, but it does come with pretty comprehensive material to help you make the best use of the information.
Personality Dimensions® is a made-in-Canada personality assessment instrument, based on years of research, and it makes the complexity of personality theory easy to understand and use in daily life. Full disclosure of my bias here, as a Personality Dimensions® Facilitator I prefer this assessment over the others.
I’ve used it for many years and with countless groups of people. Personality Dimensions® assessments are not widely available to the general public, because the assessment is designed to be provided exclusively through certified facilitators – usually in a group setting, where the interaction with others, together with the guidance of the facilitator, greatly enhances the learning. There are many ways to deepen the learning in group settings to develop skills in teamwork, communication, leadership and so on.
Overwhelmingly, I find that people enjoy the group workshops and learn new insights about themselves and others. Not only that, but they are able to readily apply these insights in their relationships both at home and at work. It’s easy to remember your own type, and that of your co-workers – as the personality types are colour-coded: Authentic Blue, Inquiring Green, Organized Gold and Resourceful Orange – each group with its own array of traits, characteristics, strengths and preferences.
At work, knowing and understanding your own personality type and that of your colleagues and team members a real asset – you’ll have a heightened appreciation of the different communication styles, stressors, and motivators for each person.
Do you have a favourite personality assessment? Share your thoughts in the comments below!