I recently took part in an online personality test to identify to my top five strengths. The instructions tell you to answer each question with your instinct to get the most accurate view of your top five skills, and the test aims to get you to focus on what you are good at rather than what you need to improve.Can a series of questions really give us an insight to
who we are and help us develop in our professional lives? This all depends on the person taking the test to be completely honest in their answers, and how many of us can say we truly would be? Who wouldn’t want to try and paint the best picture of themselves, especially when we know the results are going to be looked at by our manager? An article I recently read in Marketing Week magazine referenced a book called ”The Big Lie” (author: Future Foundation), which looked at how we often kid ourselves, noticing the differences between the attitudes we report and our behaviour. For example, only 20 per cent of people trust politicians yet 60 per cent of people vote in the general elections.Personality tests are not a new thing. They have been used to sort, categorise and classify people for centuries. The first known test is from an Ancient Greek Philosopher Hippocrates who devised a system that separated people into four temperaments. They have even made their way into books and films. For example, the sorting hat in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (author: J. K. Rowling) that assigns students to a house based on their characteristics and traits.There are so many different types of personality tests you can take, from practical general overviews of your personality (for example, Myers-Briggs), to some just for fun; such as the following examples from www.buzzfeed.com:
- How British are you?
- Which celebrity cat should be you BFF?
- What type of shark are you?
How can we relate this to the workplace? Having a good knowledge of your team’s strengths is a good way to focus assigning tasks based on their skills; however, these shouldn’t be taken as gospel. Just because a person doesn’t have a certain skill at the top of their strengths doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be given any tasks involving this or that you can’t help to develop skills. Another issue may be that defining a member of your team to a certain personality category or as having certain strengths could also mean he is treated in a particular way. As a manager, you may be influenced by the traits you are told this person has rather than getting to know them for yourself. You are treating them as a person in a category rather than an individual.
However, knowing the categories your team falls into could make your job as a manager easier. Getting to know your team can help to get the best out of them. Showing someone that you recognise them as an individual and finding out what motivates them makes them feel valued as an employee. The better you know a person, the better you will be able to develop them.
To sum up, if you really want to get to know, and get the best out of your team, then a personality test is a good place to start but nothing really beats personal interaction to get to know someone.