Why do employers give personality tests?
Personality tests can be useful tools to help your employees learn how to be more productive and effective individually at their jobs, work better with their teams, and develop as people and professionals.
Keep in mind, though, that personality assessments can give results based on employees’ false mental pictures of themselves or their skills (or on what they think their managers want to hear). An employee’s job performance and personality can also differ dramatically from what an assessment might predict because that employee has learned new and effective behaviors through training.
When you bring up the subject of personality tests for employees, be sensitive to their feelings and needs. The trusting relationships that you build with them over time are probably the most important part of a good work environment. Hold onto that trust. Don’t let them think that they’re suddenly going to be judged by an impersonal assessment system or that the results of a given assessment might threaten their jobs.
Instead, introduce personality assessments in the spirit of shared exploration and fun. Let your employees know their benefits: assessments may add new insights and a shared vocabulary to the workplace that will help employees to better understand and value differences. This can help them see past conflicts rooted in personality differences and find better behaviors to resolve them constructively. Assessments can also build trust and communication among team members and suggest strategies for strengthening teams. Let your employees know that these assessments can only help them and are not a threat.
The six personality tests described below are terrific options. We’ve explained the purposes and benefits of each one, both for building up individual employees and for strengthening teams.
1. Keirsey Test
Keirsey assessments help build up trust as part of a company’s culture by helping people see differences as strengths. These assessments enhance communication between people at all levels in the company, reducing turnover and increasing morale and performance. Employees are able to understand what motivates their coworkers and what discourages them.
At the team level, Keirsey assessments and training help to find both what a team does best and what the team can improve.
Keirsey assessments can also help to find the natural leaders in an organization, even when they have different personality types; not all leaders have to fit the same image. The training then shows how to keep different kinds of leaders motivated and engaged.
2. Big Five
Taking one of the assessments that measure your levels in the Big Five personality traits helps to place you within a very common five-factor model of personality used by many psychologists. This helps employees learn about their personalities in a way that is transferable to different settings (even therapy!), instead of being stuck within the codes of one personality test. The five factors are defined in fairly neutral terms: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. These are fairly easy to understand but give deep insight if one wants to learn more. In organizations, they can tell you why your employees interact with their coworkers the way they do, how they typically deal with stress and how to improve in that area, how they respond to authority, and more.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator gives each employee a 4-letter code as their personality type. The code tells them their natural tendencies in the following areas:
- Extraversion or Introversion
- Intuition or Sensing
- Thinking or Feeling
- Judging or Perceiving
Each of these personality types has a standard profile associated with it. The profiles indicate what people with a given personality type usually enjoy doing on the job, what type of culture they like, what motivates them, what type of conflict-resolution methods work well for them, and much more.
This system can be used to help employees learn to perform better on the job and get along better with their peers by helping them understand what common pitfalls their personality types have and how to compensate for them. It supplies a common language that employees can use to communicate about their performance, workplace preferences, and feelings about work. Knowing an employee’s type also makes it easier for managers to coach their employees.
Use this type of employee assessment test to measure how interested your current employees are in various job types and tasks and to see which career paths would suit each them. If this information is used to help employees find the best role for them within the organization, it will help you hold on to talented employees longer. A prime example is the Holland Code Career Test, which is based on the theory that each person’s personality and character is expressed through his or her choice of job—and that you can help your employees excel by putting them in the right work environments for their type.
DiSC is a behavioral model that is focused exclusively on behaviors at work (rather than on general personality type) and helps employees become more productive. Employees find out if they are strongest in dominance, influence, steadiness, or conscientiousness. They then learn how to emphasize the right trait strengths in each situation and to work more effectively with other members of their team through a shared understanding of the DiSC types.
This assessment is specifically designed for intact teams. Each team member first completes a self-assessment and then receives feedback from others on the team. Each person is given a profile that explains his or her strengths and weaknesses in general and how that person’s skills support and relate to the team. You can then see if there are gaps that need to be filled through hiring new team members—or by having current team members take on additional roles so that all nine of the Belbin roles are represented.
Contact us to discuss how CMOE can partner with you to develop your employees.