The Weekly Buzz: Testing 1-2-3
How well do you understand yourself and the people you work with? Are some of your employees more efficient and fulfilled than others at the same type of work? Does your team need to develop some additional capabilities? This week at Maestro we were talking about StrengthsFinder and other ways to understand our capabilities as a team. So what are your strengths, and why do organizations care?
Personality Testing Before Psychology
For many centuries, western medicine categorized people into four personality types based on different levels of substances in the body—a melancholy person supposedly had lots of black bile, for instance. In the 1930s, people might turn to popular astrology and newspaper horoscopes to try to get perspective on why their life was turning out the way it was (and something like a quarter of Americans still do). But large organizations such as the Army had turned to science as early as 1917 to try to predict how individuals would hold up under the stress of combat.
No personality test is more well-known than the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Isabel Briggs Myers combined research into Jungian character typologies with current testing and statistical methods in the 1940s. Her goal was to help women who were entering the workforce for the first time to find employment suited to their temperaments and skills. Due to savvy partnerships with testing companies and consultancies, the MBTI has been extremely popular, taken by millions of people a year since 1962. Unfortunately, the psychology community doesn’t consider it very scientific.
What Can We Learn?
Most personality tests aren’t very scientifically objective, because they are based in questionnaires where you describe yourself and how you think others view you. Therefore, they aren’t a good basis for deciding who gets a promotion or who is laid off. (Though if your organization does that, there is personality-test test prep available online to help you game the system!) However, they do provide powerful insight into possible areas of team strength or weakness, and into shared values—which research shows lead to innovation and success.