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Using Personality Tests for Team Building

Many contemporary personality psychologists believe that there are five basic dimensions of personality, often referred to as the “Big 5” personality traits. The five broad personality traits described by the theory are extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.

My Personality Test Experiment

I had the opportunity to experience this exploration first hand with Markus Baer, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Olin Business School at Washington University. His expertise lies in the area of creativity and innovation, specifically in Organizational Behavior, Critical Thinking, Innovation, and Growth (check out his extensive list of published work and honors).

My first step was taking the Keirsey test. In an open format discussion, Baer shared his thoughts on personality profiles, personality assessment methods, and exactly what I should deduce from this experiment.

Do Personality Tests Work?

Proponents of personality testing believe that while there may be no right or wrong answers, these tests can indicate whether a candidate might be a good fit for the position or the company culture. For example, candidates for an engineering role might likely hold traits such as a prudent and calculated approach to work, work-safety attitude, and ability to cope with pressure in the workplace. On the opposite side, candidates for a sales role would likely exhibit a competitive nature and high motivation to achieve results.

Who We See Ourselves As

While these tests can be useful, Baer reminded the group that the test may produce a result that fits you or not. The resulting personality type is actually more of an indicator of our impressions of ourselves, rather than what might be the truth. Use personality tests as a rough guide, not your guiding light. Things like environment, education, and duties at hand can influence one’s personality.

Nonverbal Personality Test — Try This!

  1. One way Baer says to immediately tell if a person is an introvert or extrovert is by their handshake, noting eye contact and vigor are especially important.
  2. Another way to tell is by answering this question: After a long day, does the notion of going out and socializing with a big group overwhelm you or excite you? Generally speaking, if you want to crawl up in a ball of peaceful solitude after a long day, you are an introvert; if you crave that activity of the outside world to energize you, then you are an extrovert.

Each person will have personality traits across the spectrum, so it’s important to not get hung up on a label (or you could claim ambivert, but don’t we all have a little ambivert in us?).

Understanding Personality Type Conflict Within Groups

What is the perfect personality type formula for group success? Good question. Baer tells us what makes a good team really depends more on who is available and their level of expertise in their domain.

Where personality types come more into play is when presented with two types of conflict.

Task Conflict

In a business or organization, says task conflict occurs when two parties are unable to move forward on a task due to differing needs, behaviors, or attitudes.

An example of task conflict would be how you measure success or fulfill a process. Task conflict can actually be helpful by evaluating different viewpoints. “Some friction is important to help make the soup,” says Baer.

Personality Conflict

Personality conflicts take a little more care. Lifehacker says these conflicts are typically a result of work style differences, background differences, and attitude differences — especially around competitiveness. When dealing with a personality conflict, depersonalize it and address the behaviors that need improvement. Learn what the Harvard Business Review says about what creates conflict at work and the right approach to take to solve it.

Using Personality Tests for Team Building

Most businesses are categorically organized into groups. There could be anywhere from 2–200 in a single group, so understanding the motives of your group members can help build trust, which is something understanding personality types can assist with.

Understanding personality types allow groups to foster open and respectful communication, which is fundamental to organizational success. When team members feel comfortable to disagree (because they trust their team), projects tend to have more diverse and thorough ideation. Understanding different traits of each personality type on your team can give team members a level of perspective that is not visible to the naked eye.

The Myers Briggs — A Classic?

While the Myers Briggs personality test is one of the most recognized, MSN shares the test’s own publisher is so concerned about misuse of the personality test for hiring that it has gone out of its way to warn people that it should not be employed for that purpose (both in the media and on the test website — I guess they really want to drive this home, huh?) and that companies who do could be held accountable. Noted. :-/

Top Personality Tests for Team Building

Are you curious what questions like, “Do you value in yourself more than you are either reasonable or devoted, do you tend to choose somewhat impulsively or rather carefully, and when waiting in line, do you often chat with others or stick to business?” would say about you?

There is an infinite number of personality tests out there, from discovering which Disney Princess you are to where in the world should you live. To help you focus, here are some of the top ones.

Keep in mind that these are just suggestions towards your personality and do not define it 100%. If you are using this for screening employees, make sure you understand the legality in terms of test application.

Have you taken a personality test before? Tell me in the comments what your outcomes were!

For more information on personality tests for team building, contact Markus Baer or a search for a professionally certified facilitator. Don't ask me - I think we're all crazy. 

This was originally posted on 2e Creative