Should You Use Personality Tests in Management?

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  • 13% of employers in the U.S. use personality tests
  • 40% of Fortune 100 companies use some kind of psychological testing in their employment strategy
  • Personality testing accrues a $500 million industry, $20 million alone for the Meyers-Briggs test

Personality tests. Buzzfeed churns them out like Millennials used to update a Twitter status (still, there’s no shame in admitting you’ve taken one or 12). These innocuous quizzes are entertaining, and sometimes eye-opening if you buy into their accuracy. But where’s the place for this kind of psychological assessment in business?

Corporate personality testing is a $500 million industry. That being said, there are a lot of ways to implement this into your management strategy, all with their bountiful pros and cons. We’ll help you out by breaking down all the reasons why you should (or shouldn’t) use personality tests in management.

Do personality tests help productivity?

Why Personality Tests are Used in Management

The New York Times has called personality tests the astrology of the office. A way to maneuver and diagnose office tension and create a more cohesive work environment.

Here at Digital Resource, we use them as a way to facilitate our company culture. But they’re also used by companies to scope out talent, and even play a significant role in their hiring process.

The main thing business owners and managers are looking to do is, of course, improve productivity in their employees. With personality tests, they’re thinking that these results may be able to explain employee behavior in certain situations, based on their personality type.

The bit of controversy comes from the question of accuracy with these tests, and how much companies are relying on them (but more on that later).

Popular Personality Tests Companies Use

There are a lot of them out there, including these honorable mentions: the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire, the Hogan Personality Inventory, and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. But we think Meyers-Briggs and the DiSC Model are probably the most widely used, as well as the easiest to complete.

The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

89 of the Fortune 100 companies use the Meyers-Briggs test, according to Business Insider. It’s arguably the most utilized in business, generating over $20 million a year in revenue.

The test itself is based on the theory by C. G. Jung, which specifies 16 common personalities broken down by four different categories of a person’s preferences:

  • Favorite World: Outer world (Extraverts), or inner world (Introverts).
  • Information: Basic information you receive (Sensing), or further interpreting that information (Intuition).
  • Decisions: Logic and consistency (Thinking), or emotions and context (Feeling).
  • Structure: Being task-oriented (Judging), or being open to possibilities and adapting (Perceiving)

What's the MBTI personality test?

This gives the probability that people will fall into one or the other, giving you 16 possible personality results to narrow down what kind of person you are.

For example, at Digital Resource we have each of our employees take the widely popular 16Personalities test. It provides a user-friendly MBTI test that names these personality archetypes: Entrepreneurs, Executives, Mediators, Logicians, Virtuosos, etc.

The analysis of your personality is broken down by strengths and weaknesses, workplace habits, and ideal career paths, but it also captures a more complete overview of personal values and life goals, like friendship, romantic relationships, and even parenthood. It can be an interesting self-evaluation for employees, and may give insights to managers of who your employees are and how they work.

The DiSC Model

DiSC is another assessment a lot of companies use to determine employee behavior and their style of work ethic. It follows a simple four-category system:

  • Dominance: Results and focused on the bottom line.
  • Influence: Persuasive, optimistic, and a good collaborator.
  • Steadiness: Dependable, calm, and sincere.
  • Conscientiousness: Focuses on quality and accuracy, likes their independence.

DiSC highlights how people tend to solve their problems, how they deal with stress, and how they prefer to work, which makes it an interesting model to look at for improving teamwork and efficiency.

Pros and Cons of Personality Tests in Management

Now that you’ve got an idea of what they are and how companies apply them, we can get to some of the pros and cons of personality tests being used in the workplace:

Pro: Improves Employee Self-Awareness

The reason people like personality tests is because it might help people realize something about themselves the didn’t know before. Self-awareness is a good thing, especially when it comes to work habits, how they communicate and work with others, and the conditions they prefer to work in.

Con: They Probably Shouldn’t Be Used for Hiring

There are a lot of factors to suggest personality tests shouldn’t be the deciding factor for hiring a new employee. Besides the fact that making people take these extensive tests takes up valuable time, the questions can be subjective. Depending on the context of a situation, someone’s choice can often go one way or another. But these kinds of tests usually don’t allow for qualifying your answer.

Also, using personality tests for hiring can be seen as discrimination in some cases, even violating a number of US civil rights laws that ensure job candidates won’t be passed over for having a certain personality trait.

How to personality tests in management help employees?

Pro: Helps Employers Be Better Managers

Any business owner or manager should get to know their employees if they want to manage them successfully. Personality tests give you a window into who they are, and help you get a better understanding of what they may need to succeed and be more productive.

Play to their strengths: let an independent worker have the corner office so they won’t feel frustrated or distracted. Know who’s a good collaborator, and who’s a good leader or task manager. These can be indicators of who will fit better in a certain role or promotion down the line.

Con: Personality Tests are Not the End-All-Be-All of a Person’s Identity

While they can be helpful identifiers, people are individuals, not collectives of data. Meaning, a personality test won’t tell you everything about who a person is, 100% of the time. They don’t have to be completely honest while taking a test either. They could be answering the questions based on what they think you want to hear, because who wants to put their job or possible promotion in jeopardy based on a few personality questions?

The key with these tests is to treat them as supplemental guides. They can be effective tools, but don’t let their results completely rule your decisions.

How effective are personality tests in management?

Want to Improve Your Management Skills with Personality Tests?

Learning how to implement personality tests in management strategies can make your business more effective in the long run. We certainly have some experience with that, so feel free to give us a call today for a consultation with one of our internet marketing consultants! As a full-service digital marketing company, we can help you grow your business in several other ways too.

Alexandra is a content specialist, graduated with a Bachelor's degree in English from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She has a passion for literature and writing, and has extensive experience in content writing for digital marketing.

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