PERSONALITY PROFILING – Discover how to best work together

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How great would it be to have a tool that could predict how your teams will work together? Not only would it be cool, a personality profiling tool may have prevented the humiliation caused by the behaviour of the French team during the 2010 world cup: (www.theguardian.com/football/2010/jun/20/france-raymond-domenech-nicolas-anelka). French revolt leaves Raymond Domenech high and dry. After the FFF sent home Nicolas Anelka, Patrice Evra argues with coach and players refuse to train with coach.

Discovering how you react in certain situations and developing your self-awareness is commendable and a ‘must have’ for anyone who manages people. Going one step further and predicting how others will react in certain situations, has unlimited applications. Personality identification tests, such as the well-known Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, have been around for more than 60 years; so there is certainly nothing new when it comes to management tools.

Recently, new companies have jumped on the bandwagon and offer apps and software that provide personality profiling, the majority of which are based on the original work of Carl Jung’s research into personality traits. A 2014 survey of global HR professionals by CEB, one of the largest providers of online talent tests, indicated that 62% of respondents used some sort of personality test for recruitment. 30% indicated that personality assessments would be used to identify high potential talent in the future.

So is personality profiling for your organisation and how can you use it at work? Employees can identify their personality types and, therefore, the best ways of working together in the light of their differences, or similarities. Having a behavioural framework enables everyone to recognise their traits in relation to others and creates a common language. “There are two parts to anybody’s work performance. One part is maximal performance, described as ‘can do’ behaviour. The other is typical performance, described as ‘will do’ behaviour,” says Deniz Ones, a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota. “What personality predicts well is typical performance.”

My favourite is the Myer Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) because it has been around for so long and is probably one of the most widely used and most popular personality profiling tools. Considering it is used in 70% of FTSE 100 companies and it is available in 27 languages, you gain an insight into how popular it is. I have been a certified trainer for more than ten years and I have noticed that in the late 2000s, companies used personality profiling to have some fun together because business was going great. This has changed and I find since the 2010/11, companies want to be more analytical and this is due, I believe, to the steady trend with the global financial situation, with companies expecting more return on investment. They still want events to be fun, but it’s more about what it means and how they can use it that is important.

The MBTI begins by asking people to compete a questionnaire. The questionnaire is a forced preference based questionnaire and asks similar questions to determine a strong or weak preference. The result of the questionnaire is a four letter code that provides an indication of an individual’s preferences on four scales: introversion or extroversion, gathering important information, decisions making and a preference for an orderly or a flexible lifestyle. This is followed up usually with a one to one meeting to analyse and understand the results. Alternatively, a group session to explore the variations in preferences can provide a surprising insight into the differences between us, and why we at times, do not get along so well.

The real power of tests like MBTI is improving the way people work together.  I’ve seen it used to make the workplace more comfortable for people and I’ve seen it improve teams and office environments, and help people get over obstacles in communication. Having a greater understanding of your work colleagues reduces conflict.

There can be concerns over personality profiling by those taking part. Some may feel uncomfortable about the idea of someone knowing their profile. I have been asked if I might be able to find out something from a discussion that the individual does not want known. Usually, the one to one discussion is all about how they have reacted to every day events, or I provide anecdotes from past MBTI sessions, while maintaining confidentiality, of course. I am not telling people anything they don’t already know, we are just using a framework to help identify traits. Another concern is that they may be pigeon-holed and the more understanding of the preferences, the more this will alleviate concerns.

Imagine when you speak to your work colleague you already know whether they prefer to have some notice that you would like to speak with them. You know they prefer you to be straight to the point. You may also appreciate that they like to take time to consider details before they make a decision and you have an idea of what type of information is going to be important to them. Going into a meeting armed with this kind of knowledge means you are able to be more persuasive and therefore you are likely to get the response you are looking for.

Imagine you are putting together a team for a project and you require a variety of skills at different stages of the project.  Having an appreciation of the preferences of the individuals on your team will help you to decide team roles and timing. Having an insight into your own preferences, especially in relation to the impact the way you lead others has and how you like to work, will have a bearing on how successful the project will be which can result in the competitive edge you are seeking in your business.

If personality profiling is something you would like to know more about then please reach out to me at www.thehrdept.gi. As far as I am aware, I may be the only certified trainer based in Gibraltar and I always enjoy sharing the MBTI with people as part of their personal development.