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How Personality Assessment Tests Improve Workplace Culture and Communication

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    Personality assessment tests help employees understand themselves and each other. But with many different models and methods, it’s important to find a test that speaks to your culture and creates cohesion among your people. In this blog post, we examine six of the most widely used tests and outline five steps for effectively using personality assessments in your organization.

    Using personality assessment tests with your current employees — and sharing the results with them — helps team members better understand each other. And when employees understand how their co-workers and managers prefer to communicate, work becomes more inclusive and productive.

    Personality assessment tests also inspire self-awareness as employees recognize:

    • the way they approach issues
    • what makes them most comfortable at work
    • how they best work with others through conflict and other challenges

    In other words, these tests allow your people to see the differences between what the test says about them and what they think about themselves. Consider introducing them to your workforce.

    What is a personality assessment test?

    For employers, personality assessment tests gauge an individual’s:

    • interests
    • preferences
    • motivations
    • emotional makeup
    • most effective communication styles

    This information is particularly valuable in hiring to determine which candidates are ideal for certain teams, projects and departments. After all, technical skills alone can’t determine how well one might mesh with your organization.

    Personality assessment tests uncover the soft skills contributing to your company’s values, culture and overall well-being. Remember, long-term success is bigger than raw output — it also demands maintaining a healthy, supportive environment where people actually want to work.

    6 types of personality assessment tests

    Personalities lie on a spectrum. No one test offers the perfect conclusion. Some focus more on communication and cooperation, while others break down our behavior to a near-molecular level. Here are six of the most popular test types.

    1. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

    The MBTI generates 16 personality types based on a four-letter output of these options:

    • introvert or extrovert interactions
    • sensing or intuition to access information
    • thinking or feeling when making decisions
    • judging or perceiving view of the world

    The combination of these preferences make up a person’s type. For example, someone who’s introverted, intuitive, judging and feeling is classified as “INJF.” Myers-Briggs offers extensive information about each type, including stressors and motivators.

    2. DiSC model

    The DiSC model organizes personalities among four quadrants, with people usually leaning toward one of the following:

    • dominance, an emphasis on accomplishing results
    • influence, an emphasis on relationships and influencing others
    • steadiness, an emphasis on cooperation and dependability
    • conscientiousness, an emphasis on quality, accuracy and competency

    Results from the DiSC model are presented on a circle, with a dot falling in one of the areas. This helps test takers easily see where their personality lies and identify how much of each quadrant is relevant to them.

    3. Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ)

    Named for the married psychologists who devised it, Hans Jürgen Eysenck and Sybil B. G. Eysenck, the EPQ is one of the most simplistic — and perhaps unreliable — assessments. Typically, it asks participants yes-or-no questions to determine:

    • extroversion
    • introversion
    • neuroticism

    The test also attempts to measure honesty, or how a participant may manipulate their responses to appear more appealing. The subjectivity of this approach, however, makes it difficult to justify as a company’s primary test.

    4. Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI)

    The HPI measures how well an individual cooperates with others and how productive they are by doing so. It presents its results across seven primary scales:

    • adjustment
    • ambition
    • sociability
    • interpersonal sensitivity
    • prudence
    • inquisitive
    • learning approach

    Each factor yields its own subassessment. For example, someone with high prudence will be more organized and rigid. On the other hand, a participant with low ambition could be an ideal team player despite potential complacency.

    5. Keirsey’s Four Temperaments

    Similar to the DiSC model, Keirsey’s Four Temperaments divide people into four categories on a circle:

    • artisan
    • guardian
    • idealist
    • rational

    These groups are divided further by character types, producing 16 possible results. This assessment shares DNA with the MBTI, as each outcome ties to that test’s four-letter results (ESTP, INFJ, etc.).

    6. CliftonStrengths assessment

    Also known as the “Gallup Test,” the CliftonStrengths assessment divides personalities into 34 themes, then identifies test takers’ five behavior-defining strengths. Outcomes include:

    • learner
    • includer
    • achiever
    • maximizer
    • and more

    Ideally, this assessment cuts to the heart of what motivates participants. It’s also among the most extensive, given some versions feature nearly 200 questions.

    How businesses use personality assessment tests

    Before implementing any test, employers should understand why it’s needed. In recruiting, it may be to pin down the right culture fit and monitor a balance of cooperative behaviors. For instance, an extremely extroverted new hire might feel isolated or disruptive on a team of introverts.

    Alternatively, personality assessment tests may reveal what allows certain teams to click — and others to crumble. But a behavioral clash doesn’t mean any one employee is bad at their job; they just might not be in the right setting.

    Spotting these aptitudes in action isn’t hard. Extroverts may thrive delivering group presentations. People who score high in prudence on the HPI might have a knack for campaign strategy. An includer might make for a great mentor, leader or HR pro.

    Keep these five steps in mind as you search for and experiment with personality assessment tests in your business.

    1. Choose a personality assessment test that speaks to your organization

    Regardless of what you’re specifically measuring, make sure the test produces consistent results. Reliability is key for anything you rely on to help steer org structure.

    The ideal assessment should produce outcomes without much ambiguity. In other words, every personality type should consider consistent traits that generally don’t change over time. The stress of a busy sales season or a product launch could heavily warp the results of tests that gauge more immediate feelings. Look for a more holistic option that diffuses bias and subjectivity.

    The most famous tests are known for a reason. Dive into reviews from employers in your or similar industries. You don’t need to take these testimonials entirely to heart, but they can give you confidence to follow a path that’s reliable — not volatile.

    2. Communicate with managers and employees

    Before administering the test, let managers know why. Giving them time to understand how it will help their teams can turn them into advocates.

    Discuss with managers how and when you’ll share results, which they can use to improve engagement and productivity. How your front-line managers use test results in day-to-day operations will impact engagement more than anything else, so it’s vital they’re aligned. A quick email, followed by a short meeting to answer any questions, could do the trick.

    When informing employees, it’s important they know the test is strictly a tool to understand each other better and work well together; no right or wrong answers exist. Plus, results will be skewed if employees respond based on how they think they should.

    Let employees and managers know that after all team members have completed the test, HR will go over the results. Using personality tests effectively is all about sharing and discussing the outcomes. Employees don’t need to keep their types private.

    3. Administer the test

    If a personality assessment is led by HR instead of the team’s leader or manager, employees can learn how to interact with their own manager from an outside perspective. Guidelines vary from test to test for administering to teams.

    Employees should also be given adequate time to complete the test. Although many personality assessments can be printed, the online version should prove more convenient for most.

    When linking employees to an online test, include a completion deadline. Consider everyone’s schedule, but don’t drag it out too far, either. Most test companies will share an estimated time for an individual to take it, but if not, communicate one — and be generous so employees won’t rush through it.

    Storing and tracking test results is vital to help you:

    • better evaluate conflict
    • identify high performers
    • address communication issues

    An easy-to-use document storage tool is great for securing this data in employees’ digital files.

    4. Communicate results with managers and employees

    Before and after discussing results in a group setting, review them with managers in a one-on-one meeting. This will help them understand how to talk to their team about the test.

    In your “before” meeting, let managers know:

    • why HR is leading the meeting
    • the results, including how a manager’s personality type may differ from their employees’
    • the results are a connection tool, but can’t perfectly convey someone’s personality

    When it’s time to share results with the greater organization, give employees as much context as possible. Information from these assessments helps immediate supervisors better understand their direct reports, and vice versa, especially for communication and conflict management. Make it clear no “correct” personality type exists for your business, so no employee should feel like their results make them less than others.

    The goal is to bring members of your workforce together through mutual understanding. Sharing and discussing the results helps people understand their personalities and tendencies. Even if they disagree with the outcome, it’s an opportunity for them to share their own assessment in a safe space.

    Don’t just administer results with context. The most important part of this process is looking at what the results mean and discussing them in detail. Ask questions like:

    • What does it mean to be an ENFP or an INTP?
    • What does it mean to be a “C” or an “S” with “i” tendencies?
    • What common ground do arrangers and learners share?
    • How could an inquisitive person empower someone with high prudence?

    Additionally, allow participants to ask questions and discuss results that surprised them or confirmed their perceptions.

    Most importantly, don’t take these results at face value. People are complex. One test can’t tell you everything you need to know about how to interact with each other. Think of the outcomes as guideposts instead of ironclad definitions.

    About a month after the group session, schedule another meeting with your managers to discuss the development of their teams since the assessment. What you learn in this session can help you plan additional tests for other departments.

    5. Use the data to strategically attract and engage top talent

    Personality assessment tests help your company make more informed hiring decisions. The data can allow you to quickly spot a “cultural fit” for the organization, allowing you to write better job descriptions.

    Revise job postings to be more accurate reflections of your company and steer them toward the kinds of applicants you want. With management’s input, generate reports for personality trends of your best employees to pinpoint the tie between their performance and test results.

    In interviews, encourage managers and recruiters to ask questions based on personality types. For example, if your best employees mostly prefer to work alone, job candidates who prefer constant brainstorming and interaction might not make an ideal hire. With the right applicant tracking software, you can include knockout questions along the same lines.

    Also, update your onboarding process to include the personality assessment test you’ve deemed right for your organization. Taking the time to get to know new employees this way helps them feel engaged and connected to your culture faster.

    Schedule time for them to discuss their results with their manager — or HR — and how those results relate to the rest of their team. That way, they should feel at home.

    Are personality assessment tests accurate?

    While personality assessments tests help you understand employees, they should not be the only way of evaluating them. Any results you find should be considered alongside other key factors, including:

    • skills
    • experience
    • performance

    After all, people are all incredibly diverse and unique — no one test can fully capture who we are.

    How mutual understanding boosts engagement

    While personality assessment tests aren’t foolproof, they allow employees to evaluate how they view themselves and how others may perceive them. The tests don’t have to be perfect to give members of your workforce insight into one another.

    Using these tests allows co-workers to recognize their commonalities and differences, while managers better understand their direct reports. In turn, you light a clear path to make your organization more welcoming, supportive and cooperative.

    Check out Paycom’s blog for more strategies to bring your people together.

    DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax, accounting or other professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation and for your particular state(s) of operation.