Personality Tests: Can They Improve Workplace Dynamics?

Whether it’s new team members or new ways of working, personality tests or assessments have proved helpful with changing workplace dynamics during the pandemic. But how might they come into play now?

Let’s preface by saying workplace personality tests are so much more than assigning neat labels to people. They can be used to create a work environment that is equitable, productive, and welcoming for all types of employees.
Ahead of our team’s recent in-person offsite, gathering full-time remote and hybrid employees alike, everyone was asked to complete their Clifton Strengths. At our offsite, we were able to share how our preferred working styles and strengths could lead to frustration without communication or lead to success through mutual understanding.

As an intern, it was incredibly validating to be seen in a new light by my colleagues and I wasn’t alone. It led to some insightful conversations about the whats, hows, and whys we find fulfillment and joy in our projects. For example, I’m what Clifton Strengths refers to as a relationship-focused individual whose strength lies in knowing how to build strong relationships that can hold a team together and make the team greater than the sum of its parts. It informed me of the value I bring to the team.

Our team found it invaluable to learn about each other, here’s how personality testing might help your working relationships.

Forming personal connections

Sometimes it’s difficult to come as your authentic self at work. Discussing personality test results during a 1-on-1 with a manager, direct report or colleague may make it easier for some to open up and make genuine bonds. It’s a great opportunity for all employees to share the personal significance of their results.

Creating a culture of thought diversity

Company-wide use of tests like Clifton Strengths can be a great opportunity to celebrate and embrace diversity in our workplaces. Everyone has unique approaches to how they work, which is important to know when forming teams with members excited about the work to be done. For example, one employee may need time to process information before sharing their insights, while another can react off the cuff. Both employees provide valuable insights. The combination of thought processes can lead to a high-performing team. Failure to understand these processes creates dysfunction.

Flexing the limitations of personality testing

Even with the above advantages, personality tests should not deter us from challenging ourselves outside the confines of the results. For instance, a test may categorize me as a relationship builder but that doesn’t mean my strategic or analytical abilities are nonexistent. Quite the opposite. Think of personality traits and strengths as we do muscles, something to flex and train. Our strengths evolve over time as we push ourselves: introverts become more comfortable speaking up, extroverts become better at listening. And we discover new ways that express how we work best.

You can explore your team’s strengths with any of these tests: Clifton Strengths, or the Personality Assessor, or Principles You.

Janeth Mutalemwa
Summer Intern
As a college student, Janeth was a champion for creating supportive professional and academic cultures at Columbia University by assisting staff and faculty as well as advocating for underrepresented student populations in several leadership positions.
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