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Team-Building: INFJ or ENFP? How Useful Are Personality Tests In Building A Team?
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Team-Building: INFJ or ENFP? How Useful Are Personality Tests In Building A Team? - Executive Leadership Articles

Team-Building: INFJ or ENFP? How Useful Are Personality Tests In Building A Team?

Executive Leadership Articles

Team-Building: INFJ or ENFP? How Useful Are Personality Tests In Building A Team?

A trend in Internet memes lately has been to classify characters in popular fictional worlds by their Myers-Briggs personality types, so that an INFJ can read a description of himself as he compares to Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars universe or Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter realm. It can be a fun activity, not unlike looking at one's Chinese zodiac breakdown, but breaking all people everywhere into one of sixteen types based on a short questionnaire can be more than fun: according to Lucy Ash writing for the BBC, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is used by 89 of the Fortune 100 companies in some way.

Can you build your team based on the results of a questionnaire? The numbers would indicate that many companies believe you can. Unlike the Wonderlic test, used by National Football League teams to measure analytical and thinking skills before the annual draft, a personality test measures self-perception and is reliant on the test-taker's honesty, self-awareness, and mood, three rather variable conditions.

An Internet search for "personality test" reveals literally hundreds of online, for-pay services that enable companies, schools, and other groups to take the tests and evaluate the overall makeup of their organizations, complete with advice about who is likely to work well with whom, what's most likely to motivate (or turn off) specific types, and the relative strengths and weaknesses each type brings to the team.

The questions are intentionally written in such a way as not to be obvious what they reveal, but a carefully thinking test-taker can attempt to skew the results in his or her favor. On the Myers-Briggs scale, the first letter of a personality type is either E or I, for "extrovert" or "introvert." Since many (if not most) groups in American business culture think of extroversion as better able to work with others, and introversion as desiring to work alone, a candidate can--and arguably should--attempt to answer questions on an assessment in such a way as to present more extrovert-like tendencies.

Results-manipulation aside, questions on personality tests are also vague and difficult to answer because most of us are different people in different contexts. An introvert, for example, can exhibit completely extrovert-like traits in a business setting because that's how he or she has learned to thrive. The true difference is more likely to be noticed after hours, when people head out of the office toward their evening activities. Some might head to the local sports bar, while others might go for a long walk in the park. Outside the office walls, does it matter that one is recharging in the company of others while the other recharges in solitude?

Then there is the fact that many successful team-members are professional chameleons, learning to adapt to the needs of the teams they find themselves on. One employee can be the diligent note-taker, attentive to details, nodding his head at every suggestion, but in the absence of a charismatic leader, the same employee can assume that role, passing the chart paper to someone else and taking the position of idea-man and motivator. Survival in the working world often brings such adaptive abilities out of the best people, and how should they best respond to a personality test? Any given question could be answered one way on one occasion and the opposite way on the next.

Self-awareness is a tricky thing, and since questionnaires are really self-assessments, the results can be horribly flawed by a person who thinks one thing of herself when others observe something completely different. This is probably true of us all from time to time, so unless a test is weighed with that in mind (for example, presenting results in the framework of "...believes herself to be..." or "...perceives himself as..."), its reliability is doubtful.

None of this is to say that personality assessments are useless. A company keeping track of its personality scores over time might take a big-data approach: rather than approaching results as predictive, they might use them as descriptive, so that, over the long haul, if managers who assess themselves as Myers-Briggs ENFPs tend to outperform those whose results are INFP, a correlation without causation might be drawn, thus giving team-builders one possible tool for giving some prospects a closer look.

So, can you assemble your team based upon the results of a personality test? That's completely up to you, but chances are, you didn't get the big office by picking one rule and sticking to it. Whether your goal is a homogeneous team of like-minded thinkers or a diverse assembly of varied backgrounds and dispositions, there are multiple considerations when selecting your group. Keep in mind that even the best personality assessments are flawed, and your own judgment on one day might be different the next, and always keep the fickle finger of self-reported tests in its proper perspective.

Lucy Ash, BBC. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-18723950


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Team-Building: INFJ or ENFP? How Useful Are Personality Tests In Building A Team? - Executive Leadership Articles

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