Personality Tests: When we find Gold what should we do with it?

Photo Credit: Rachel Sapp

Photo Credit: Rachel Sapp


Personality profiling tests are very common these days and many companies are interested in using them to gain a profile of their teams. I’ve spoken before about how self-awareness is one of the most important attributes of leadership but the same can be said for any of us. Having an understanding of who we are and what makes us tick is very important.


For anyone who is unsure of what I’m referring to you may have heard of tests such as the ‘Myers-Briggs Type Indicator’ or the Carl Jung Personality type tests. There are others available too. In Layman’s terms these tests help to become a little more self-aware, understand your social interactions and see where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

Typical outcomes might tell you whether you are an introvert or extrovert, which types of social scenario you feel most comfortable and how you work with others.

The tests are great for individuals and also teams. By understanding your social interactions and those of others you can see quite clearly how to manage different roles within teams to gain maximum performance outcomes.

At the back end of last year I was speaking to staff at one of my client’s companies. Recently all staff had undertaken a personality profiling exercise. “What did you find out?” I asked.

“I’m a red, and all my team are reds pretty much,” was the reply.

“Great, so what did that mean for you guys?” I inquired.

“Not much, we’re all pretty similar.”

This was a strange conversation. I was surprised to hear that the team had all this information and hadn’t done anything with it.

I then spoke to someone else I work with regularly. He’d also undertaken a similar type of test only to find that thereafter the information hadn’t been used in the commercial setting. In fact, what was worse, was that the tests had revealed ‘weaknesses’ for individuals with no advice on how to cope with this information. His test feedback had informed that he took criticism personally.

If we think about how this could impact on the person who was an extremely capable and talented individual. Information like that above given to the a person at the wrong time, or lacking any advice on how to process it, can have a detrimental impact on that person and the organisation. Potentially de-motivated and disconnected from the organisation and their work.

What’s the alternative? Given the right support after this sort of feedback, could have meant weeks and months more of realised potential, and productivity. A positively engaged and high performing member of your team.

Personality and psychometric testing is a great way to help your business advance. It can help planning for the future, for example a talent pipeline, or ensure team projects have the right members. They can be enlightening tools for staff, helping them to identify blind spots and enhance their own performance subsequently. Self-awareness, after all, is the key to improved performance.

Next time you consider using profiling or assessment tools what might we do differently to get the results we intended in the first place? What happens if we don’t?

Lets find Gold and invest it wisely.

Beyond Employee Engagement

Dark chalkboard with a Strategy diagram illustration.

As a Business Coach in Lancashire I talk to business owners on a regular basis who know the power of coaching, training and other people development activities. Mandatory training requirements aside, Business Owners and Leaders are keen to invest in themselves and their people to develop the ability to deliver the business performance they need to continue growth and success.

It is becoming more widely understood that many businesses invest in leadership development activities which are ineffective and do not deliver the outcomes which are really needed for the business to flourish and succeed.

A recent HR Magazine article gives some insight into the reasons why. The article highlights that, in many cases, leadership development initiatives are not aligned to business needs or strategy and that inappropriate and ineffective methods are being adopted.

The Impact of the recent Spending Review

Over recent years the financial burden on businesses, small and large, has increased. In many a Boardroom across the nation, discussions on how to “get more from less” continues to be a theme.

So, in light of the recent Spending Review from George Osborne and the cuts to the Business Support budget, how will this affect the mind-set of Business Owners in terms of how they invest in their people in 2016?

The Employee Engagement Question?

For several years the principle of raising and strengthening Engagement levels throughout the workforce has gathered pace. Happy people at work are productive, right? That seems like common or business sense.

It makes the Boardroom conversations more palatable. To think that raising Engagement amongst the workforce is going to create happy and productive teams.

Talking to business leaders it’s clear that we are increasingly aware that engagement is inextricably linked to Leadership behaviours. Training organisations have adapted their initiatives and focused their promised delivered outcomes based on the Employee Engagement theme.

After all, we are told that:

“70% of how our customers and potential customers perceive our business and brand is based on their experience with our people”.

If this is the case, what part does the customer play in how we plan for development initiatives?

So, what challenges does this present?

Given that we will continue to invest in our people with less business support from central government, the question of Return on Investment plays an even more significant part in decision making.

What does this actually mean for businesses for the future?

Are there other real challenges for senior leaders? To look beyond the Employee Engagement as a “buzz-phrase” or a one-stop leadership training solution or a series of surveys and understand how to:

  1. Link Learning to Strategy & establish what the real end goals are when starting any learning & development initiative
  2. Create a Sustainable Culture & embed Employee Engagement as a culture not a project & align with strategic business needs and goals.
  3. Complete the Link to the Customer & connect engagement with advocacy
  4. Measure Effectively & to develop really smart data which will support your sustainability strategy connecting People with Strategy and Brand.

How will you think differently about your people strategy for 2016? I would really like to hear your thoughts.

I’m Paul Aisthorpe, Business Strategy Coach & Trainer specialising in developing people strategies to deliver accelerated & stronger business performance.