Are Personality Tests Even Worth It?


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Monday, July 31, 2017

Personality testing in the workplace is a fairly new phenomena but can it really encourage better teamwork and collaboration among all types of employees?

Article 3 Minutes
Are Personality Tests Even Worth It?

For any organization, having employees who are able to work effectively together is crucial. Personality tests are a fairly new method managers have started using in an attempt to ensure their teams include people who will work well together.

These quizzes, which can come in many forms, can help break down your personality into the key traits that will either complement or clash with other types. But is this method really an effective way to construct teams?

Diversity in the workplace

There's been a lot of research done to measure the benefits of having a more diverse workforce. Although personality tests themselves don't encourage a fairer distribution of gender, race, sexuality, or ability, they do rely on the same principle that having different types of people working together makes business better.

The personality-testing industry is a multi-million dollar one and big firms like IBM and Oracle are investing in organizations with this expertise. These tests are a popular way of weeding out candidates in recruitment and can help companies decide whether a particular person will fit in with the brand's identity.

Other experts have challenged the accuracy of the tests, with some thinking that personality is much more fluid than personality tests suggest, allowing you to change when you are faced with different situations.

The Myers-Briggs is one of the most commonly used quizzes, assigning people to one of 16 categories.

Dr Dean Burnett, of the Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neuroscience at Cardiff university, has outlined several flaws with the test in an article, published by the Guardian.

In his opinion, the test relies on binary choices and poor scientific foundations, becoming a self-fulfilling phenomenon as the more that take it, the more others feel like they have to do it too.

"The big problem," Burnett says: "Is that Myers-Briggs gives people a false impression of how psychology works. A false sense of expertise."

Is it worth it?

With experts questioning the accuracy of personality tests in the workplace, should you be investing your time in them?

Instead of the personality test, measuring emotional intelligence (EQ) in employees is becoming increasingly popular in organizations. Rather than breaking down personalities into different key traits, EQ tests look at how your emotions influence your behavior and decisions. Some think these can help you perform better, achieve more and become more successful.

For many small businesses, they don't have the funds to invest as heavily as IBM or their counterparts. However, some tests can take a matter of minutes, so is the risk really that big? Ultimately, the answer is no, especially if you are only using them as a starting block to get to know the people you are working.

If you base all of your decisions on the results of personality tests, you may find you don't see much return. Using them as a way to better engage with your employees, and help them find ways to improve teamwork and communication, can only benefit your business.

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