Effective Leaders Leverage Personality Tests for Their People

Photo by Thomas Drouault on Unsplash

Each year a new personality test enters the market and becomes the go-to tactic deployed by companies to increase productivity. Managers dutifully get their employees to complete the test by the set due date. Weeks later the team gathers to listen to the facilitator explain how to read the report, or the results are just emailed to each individual with little explanation. As the meeting concludes or the email goes unread, people go back to their work, giving little thought to the valuable information about themselves and their teams. I’m sure you are picturing the scene unfold as you draw from your own experiences. Undoubtedly, the company was driven by good intentions, but the desired results often don’t meet expectations.  

Allow People Time to Process the Results
Before the team meeting, provide the results to each individual, along with the applicable result explanation. As a leader, it is important to be aware of how each person responds to feedback. Be sure to share these results in the format that will be best received by the individual. Allowing people time to process the information is essential and demonstrates to the employee that you care about him/her as an individual. Encourage people to come with questions to the facilitated results workshop. Providing the results in advance will help reduce potential humiliation and let people lean into their vulnerabilities.

Share the Results with the Team
Make time to have the team come together to share individual results in a fun and open environment. Additionally, make time to plan meaningful ice breakers. This will help create a positive environment and allow people to be vulnerable among our peers.

Often people enjoy sharing their results with the team. This exercise allows people to learn about each other. By having an entire meeting that focuses on the results, you are showing the team that you value their individual personalities and how to use the information to function as a high-performance team. 

Setup Individual Meetings to Discuss the Results
Having individual meetings is helpful for several reasons:

  1. Keep it positive by taking time to acknowledge the person’s strengths. You should also use this time to review the results with the individual and discuss which projects or responsibilities are utilizing their strengths and which tasks are draining their energy because they are constantly confronted with their weaknesses.
  2. Upsetting Results:
    1. Sometimes individuals feel that their results are incorrect. This is a valid concern as many factors can impact the results. It is essential to listen to their feedback and make a note of the possible discrepancies.
    2. Other times the results can be upsetting to people because it doesn’t validate the biases about themselves. Help redirect this energy into focusing on the positive. Additionally, help the individual come up with a plan to address perceived/actual weaknesses.
  3. As a leader, discuss your results too and gain feedback from your team on an individual basis.

Realign People Based on Their Strengths and Desires
After the one-on-one meetings, take time to digest the information. Do your best to realign projects, work spaces based on each team member’s personality. By taking action you are demonstrating that you recognize their strengths, listen to their feedback, and take action by investing time and resources into the individual. 

Use the Results to Help Build Teams and Defuse Conflict
Great teams have complementary strengths and weaknesses. Use the information when assigning group projects. Additionally, if there is a conflict among employees, point out their differences and similarities. When people understand their differences and accept others personality, it allows better relationships.

Accessibility to Results and Explanations
Ensure people have access to the test explanation and the teams’ results. This will allow the team to become aware of what motivates people and what deflates their spirit and can help individuals work together. 

Personality tests are just a tool to help you lead the team. Don’t put too much or too little weight into the results. The test has its purpose, but not everything should be centered around the results. At the same time, the company invested a great deal of time and money into the test, make sure you leverage this investment for the good of your people.

Myers Briggs, iMap,Strength Finder, and Emergenitics are a few of my favorite personality tests. Leave a comment about your favorite.