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Team-Building: Personality Tests As Team Building Activities
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Team-Building: Personality Tests As Team Building Activities - Executive Leadership Articles

Team-Building: Personality Tests As Team Building Activities

Executive Leadership Articles

Team-Building: Personality Tests As Team Building Activities

“I understand that you’re a Protector and I’m a Performer, so let’s use our respective strengths to plan this activity efficiently.”

“He’s a Blue, so be sure to start with how-are-you talk before you get to the details of his evaluation.”

This is what sentences sound like when teams who work together have certain, specific language for describing personality types and working styles—their own and each other’s. When we looked at personality tests a year and a half ago, our emphasis was on using the tests in assembling teams, with cautions about candidates giving answers that might result in more favorable profiles. Yet these personality assessments can be used in another, more engaging way. The tests themselves can be a team-building agent with long-term, positive results.

As a group activity, personality tests can be interactive and fun. The questionnaire part is still done individually, but after the tests are scored and before the types explained, participants are physically grouped with others who score similarly, so they can see who among them shares their tendencies. Then, one at a time, each group is explained. Using the Myers-Briggs personality test, it might sound like, “These are the INFJs, the advocates. They live to make everyone else’s lives better. You can count on them to stay late to make sure a deadline is met, but you cannot count on them to speak up if you’re stepping on their toes. They may stand up on behalf of others, but they’ll go to ridiculous lengths to avoid conflict. Would you agree that this describes the people in this corner of the room?”

Some participants who feel they’ve been assigned to the wrong group can then ask for input from the rest of the team. Which question might he or she have answered differently for a more accurate result? Some refereeing might be required here; strong teams will frame qualities in terms of strengths, with a nod toward challenges. Less cohesive teams may be tempted to use this time to point out flaws. A well-managed interaction here can be extremely valuable, though, so it is worth a try. The misplaced ENFJ standing with the INFJs will see how well her teammates know her, how much they value her, and in many cases, how fond they are of her unique contribution.

Participants often find the most valuable aspect of this activity the who-works-best-or-worst-with-whom portion. Which personality types conflict with our INFJs, and which work best? This conversation can spark friendly laughter, as well-acquainted teammates will confirm those specific traits which make collaboration between certain people challenging or easy. One encouraging result of this discussion may be that supposedly difficult pairings actually work well together, as they’ve either learned to leverage their differences for the best results, or they’re such good friends that personal comfort and affection trump any potential conflicts in personality. This is one of several great lessons that can emerge from personality assessments in this setting.

A good way to conclude the activity is to bring up recent projects, asking participants to share how the specific traits of team members contributed to solving problems, improving results, or perhaps slowing down the process. Allow them to brainstorm how alternate groupings might have been better for the team, for the client, or for the company.

If you’re planning a big team-building activity, consider a personality or working-style assessment by an outsider. There’s a lot of product out there, consultants who will work with your firm to assess and score the questionnaire (sometimes online, ahead of the activity itself), and come to your site to lead an all-day workshop. And although we’ve used the Myers-Briggs as an example, consider an alternate indicator, such as the enneagram (the Protector, the Mediator, the Perfectionist, the Giver, the Performer, the Romantic, the Observer, the Loyal Skeptic, and the Epicure) or the True Colors model (Blue for compassionate, Orange for high-energy, Green for creative, Gold for dutiful), or any of the vast number of unique, proprietary methods available. Most of these presentations include sections on dealing with conflict and effective management.

The science behind these personality types is questionable. There may be no real, quantifiable basis for any of these personality labels, but the point here is not scientific accuracy. The point is inspiring your team to talk about strengths and challenges within a defined framework, one that gives it guidelines and a vocabulary for describing themselves and working with others. It’s great to see one team member say to another, “Hey, can I get a Giver’s perspective on this email I’m about to send?” or “Make sure you include a Gold in that meeting.” The workshop may take just a day, but the conversations that result could carry on for a long time after.

 

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Team-Building: Personality Tests As Team Building Activities - Executive Leadership Articles

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