I’m an assessment geek. I’m always looking to improve my own performance as well as my team’s. And I find measurement essential for upping our game.
I first started using personality tests over a decade ago when I became the publisher of Nelson Books. It was a way for me to peek under the hood and see what I could do to drive my performance to the next level.
Pretty quickly I also realized personality assessments gave me a great way to intelligently build my team.
“Eight of the top 10 U.S. private employers now administer pre-hire tests in their job applications for some positions,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Why? Assessments help employers identify ideal job candidates and reduce turnover.
However, there’s another benefit to assessments I want to focus on here: collaboration.
Playing People Where They’re Strongest
Like a lot of leaders, my natural bent is to hire people like me. But that’s a major fail as far as team building goes. It not only leads to discrimination, but as JetBlue chairman Joel Peterson says, “You won’t have the variety of perspectives, backgrounds, and skills that are invaluable when you’re up against big problems, or facing big opportunities.”
Clone hiring creates lopsided organizations with major talent gaps. The answer is to build teams with diverse talents and temperaments. But—let’s be honest—all that dissimilarity can lead to friction if we’re not careful, right?
When I’m hiring people for my team, I find personality tests allow me not only to identify diverse skills and abilities, but also to know where to play people where they’re strongest. The result is one of the most collaborative teams I’ve ever worked with.
So what assessment do we use?
3 Personality Tests and How We Use Them
There are plenty of effective tests out there. They all measure different aspects of our personalities and how we perform. These are the three I find most helpful.
- Kolbe A Index. Kolbe measures how we initiate action. Not everyone initiates the same way. Some people want to research first. Others want a detailed plan. Others like to get rolling and worry about the details later. Kolbe allows us to balance these natural impulses across our organization so we get the benefit of each where we need it most. You can read more about this approach in Kathy Kolbe’s book, Striving Zones.
StrengthsFinder. When we play to our strengths, we make our greatest contribution to our teams and experience the most personal satisfaction possible. StrengthsFinder reveals not only my top strengths, but also my lowest. Ditto for my teammates. These are innate traits we can put to our advantage if we’re intentional. Millions of people have taken the StrengthsFinder assessment, and I strongly recommend Tom Rath’s StrengthsFinder 2.0.
The Enneagram. If the Kolbe identifies how you take action and StrengthsFinder measures innate traits, the Enneagram reveals your key motivations. As a result, it picks up nuances of personality that other assessments miss. I’ve been using it personally for years, and have really seen its value on my team in the last few years. If you want to learn more, I suggest you preorder Ian Cron’s new book, The Road Back to You. I read the pre-release copy, and it’s the best book I’ve read on the Enneagram so far.
When hiring, I also like to see a candidate’s DiSC score. It reveals how people perform under stress, which is helpful. Myers-Briggs overlaps with the Kolbe a bit, but it adds another layer and can point out potential sources of conflict.
When building your team, ideally you want a kaleidoscope of personalities. Personality assessments, especially the three highlighted above, will enable you to identify diverse players and integrate them into a highly collaborative team.