The right spot for personality tests


When personality tests and cultural surveys come up with clients, they often say a little apologetically “I know you don’t think much of these, but…”. I feel bad when I hear this, because I don’t automatically think they are bad.

Far from it.

I rate things such as Myers-Briggs, the various LSI, OCI, CSI permutations, Facet 5 and all various  letters, spiderwebs and colours as great tools for  raising the performance of teams that already know what they’re doing.

They give people an opportunity to reflect on themselves, their teammates and have an actual conversation.  By creating a safe environment through an objective process and a skilled facilitator, giving and receive honest feedback can be an excellent trust-building exercise between team members.

As Patrick Lencioni shows with his model on teams, trust is the foundation for good debate.  This leads to better decisions which the team can get behind, which creates clarity, accountability and ultimately better performance.

And because building a team that works collaboratively toward achieving its goals is an accountability of every manager, these sorts of processes are a necessary part of every manager’s kitbag.

But personality and cultural assessments aren’t going to be much use when the organisation’s issues in delivery and frustrated people are being caused by fundamental issues of structure, capability and leadership.

If people are in a situation where their managers cannot offer the wider view that is required, where the relationship of their role towards other roles is ambiguous, and where managers either don’t know or don’t practice the basic competencies of leadership (e.g. setting direction, assigning  and integrating accountabilities, assuring performance, setting structure, relationship management), then a workshop on better understanding each other will not be much help.

In fact, it can actually set the organisation back as the real people on the frontline don’t want their bosses to reflect on their personality.  They want their bosses to set up a clear work system that makes sense, then provide value-added leadership.

Putting people into a freezer then running them through a workshop on how to handle the cold is insulting, and not a good use of organisational resources.

Heat the place first by analysing and clarifying the structure then ensuring the fundamentals of value-added leadership are known and happening.  Spend the time and resources to get this right, and the organisation will start delivering.

Adam is a partner of The Working Journey a niche consultancy that designs organisations into creative accountable enterprises that deliver...using ideas such as you just read. Want to chat? Send him an email by clicking here.

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