If you catch me on a bad day and ask me about personality profiles, you will trigger a rant. Personally, I don’t believe that you can sort humanity into 16 groups of personalities and end up with something useful. The instruments range from the downright shady to the more “scientific” ones — but all of them measure more or less previously determined constructs.
If you catch me on a better day, I will concede that personality profiles do allow teams to have a discussion on the value of different perspectives and diversity. It is easier to live with the quirks of another human being if you don’t hold them to the exact same standards as you hold yourself to. For example, if I know that it is hard for my coworker to organize her time and that this is not because she is mean and evil but because in a way, “she was born this way”, I can be more forgiving. That doesn’t mean that these constructs are in any sense of the word “true”, but they do help to understand that, well, people are different.
The big danger is that these constructs become self-limiting descriptions:
Whether or not a company or team wants to risk the stereotyping that can result from personality profiles is for them to tell. The good news is that there are a lot of things that you can do as a coach or team leader to mitigate these risks and to create useful conversations if such a test has been conducted. (Disclaimer: I would never initiate or suggest such testing — but sometimes that’s what a company wants to do.)
Ask for fit:
Before assuming that any kind of psychological instrument knows more about the client then they do themselves, it is good to ask them to which extent they think the description fits their own perception of themselves:
Focus on strengths:
When talking about potential negative aspects make sure you get a coaching agreement before talking about them:
Also here, it makes sense to build on resources:
Sometimes, it can be useful to “externalize” a quality that is perceived as negative:
End on a concrete note:
I hope this is helpful for all of you who are sometimes faced with these profiles.
Recently, I found a really fun and interesting one that is also free: www.wingfinder.com
The nice thing about this one is that it not only relies on self-descriptions but has two tests included:
An unconscious bias test (which I think, has also been questioned by science, but okay) and a pattern recognition test.
Let me know what you think.
If you want to discuss more about this please come to one of our weekly coaching meet up and exchanges. to register click here:
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