Understanding what makes you and your people tick can lead you to working better together.
Read time: 4 minutes:
- Personality profiling can improve communication and teamworking
- There is a wide range of paid-for and free tests available
- Care needs to be taken in how insight from tests is shared and used
Remote working has put startup teams under greater pressure than ever before. Understanding the requirements of co-workers is key but emails, IM and glitchy Zoom calls make it hard to judge what sort of communication or support may be required.
One solution is to use psychometric testing or psychological profiling tools to give insight into what makes people tick and the best way to allow them to work happily and productively. In this article, we look at five popular personality profiling tests and consider the pros and cons of using profiling within a startup or SME.
A wide range of personality tests
Many free and paid tests exist online. The most important thing is to understand your desired outcome before choosing a test – and also consider budget. There can be multiple versions of the most popular tests, some of which may lack the depth of insight and supporting information of paid-for versions. Many profiling providers also offer remote workshops on teamwork with accredited professionals, showing you how to make best use of your newfound insight. New services, workshops and materials have been created specifically for those working remotely.
One takeaway that many people find having taken a profiling test with colleagues is how differently people see the world and approach problems. By understanding the wide range or personality types and what motivates or stresses individual colleagues it becomes easier to avoid clashes and boost productivity.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is an introspective self-report questionnaire that seeks to understand how people perceive the world and make decisions. It was developed in the 1940s by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers.
The Myers-Briggs system has four personality categories with two options in each:
Introversion (I) or Extraversion (E)
Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)
Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)
Upon completion of a questionnaire, participants are assigned one of the 16 basic personality types, described in four-letter codes such as INFP or ESJP. Team members share results and learn how team members prefer to operate and how to approach each other with requests. Myers-Briggs is well established and there is a wealth of further information and guidance online.
Big Five personality traits
In academic psychology, a common measure of personality is the Big Five taxonomy, also known as the OCEAN model. Developed in the 1980s, the Big Five taxonomy was identified through the statistical analysis of personality survey data. OCEAN is an acronym for those five core features of personality identified in that study:
- Openness to experience
OCEAN uses the trait model rather than ‘type’ model seen in Myers Briggs. Participants are placed on a sliding scale across the five aforementioned characteristics rather than in a single restrictive category.
DiSC profiling test
The DiSC assessment tool was designed specifically for the business world. It is a group of psychometric tests based on the 1928 work of American psychologist William Moulton Marston—who, incidentally, created Wonder Woman. Like OCEAN, DiSC uses an acronym that describes its key personality traits. These are (D)ominance, (i)nfluence, (S)teadiness and (C)onscientiousness.
Basic profiles are represented by a dot on a circle divided into the four DiSC quadrants. The further from the centre and from adjoining quadrants, the greater the trait.
The DiSC organisation says it can help leaders and teams improve their self-awareness, teamwork, make conflict more productive, develop stronger sales skills, manage more efficiently and train without judgement. Results are presented in a personalised report explaining how to understand and work with other personality types.
The Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment is a personal development tool created by American educational psychologist Donald Clifton and Gallup — the US-based analytics and advisory company.
Clifton StrengthsFinder is unusual in that it focusses upon the areas where a person or team has the greatest potential for building strength. It measures recurring patterns of thought, how one uses feelings, and general behaviour. Participants are considered against a combination of 34 themes, which sort into four overarching domains.
Is personality profiling right for your business?
Personality profiling tests can help spark discussion and find new ways of working. Leaders can take what they’ve learned and make changes to ensure their employees work together as cohesively as possible.
Before embarking on team profiling it makes sense to discuss your plans with those involved. No profiling system is perfect, people may not answer questions accurately and we all can change over time. There is also a risk that people may feel pigeon-holed or diminished by the results of their test. However, done well, profiling can help address teamworking challenges, especially when working remotely.
This article considers just a few of the profiling services and tests on offer.