Get the most out of personality assessments

04/03/2014 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:23 AM

If you’ve been exposed to a personality model, you’ve probably experienced it like most people.

You took an online assessment. A consultant presented your results in a slick booklet.

If you’re lucky, you got a couple of hours of debriefing. By the end, you may have even been enthusiastic about the possibilities.

Knowing your personality could help you become aware of your strengths and identify your weaknesses. It could help you appreciate differences in other people. It might even be able to guide you in selecting a job that’s a good fit.

A couple days or weeks later, once the intrigue wore off, it was business as usual. Your booklet began collecting dust along with the rest of the training manuals on your shelf. Only it wasn’t business as usual. It was worse.

People began labeling everyone they met. After a while, your teammates developed tunnel vision, expecting people to act according to their personality. When they didn’t, it led to an argument. Several teammates hid behind their personality, developing an entitled attitude, expecting everyone to treat them special.

Don’t get me wrong. Personality assessments have value.

However, learning about personality differences is virtually worthless unless you also learn how to communicate effectively with them. What’s the point of knowing if you can’t put it into meaningful practice? What good is diversity awareness if you have no ability to leverage that diversity? Why help people find a good job fit if you can’t motivate them? Why introduce people to fancy categories and labels if they will be used as weapons?

Next time you consider investing in personality assessments, consider an approach that can help you answer these questions down the road:

• How have your systems, structures and processes been adapted to accommodate different personality types?
• How do your leaders individualize communication to engage each personality type?
• How does your recognition and rewards system motivate the types of personalities you most want in your organization?
• Does your organizational communication reflect the types of language that reach all personality types?
• What about your mission, vision, and values statements – which personalities will connect with them?

By answering these questions you can maximize your investment of time, effort and money.

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