Not my “Type”

Over the years, I have become less enamored with personality profiling as a useful tool in understanding self.  Mostly because I’ve seen the tools misused in a variety of ways  – ranging from emotionally scarring an individual who challenged their type to boxing people into a certain type, often by the person themselves “I’m a 9 (Enneagram) so I don’t do conflict”

From my experience, I have never seen personality typing executed well.  Most often, the instrument is completed by the individual, their type spits out at the end and someone walks them through an explanation.  That is normally where it ends.  The result is either someone who can now put a number or a series of letters against their name (!) or someone who can justify why they cannot perform a particular task, even if it is within their role.  To this end, I heard a senior manager say (many years ago) that they could not have tough conversations because they were a type 9 and did not handle conflict well).

Or course, there is a wealth of information on the validity and reliability of such tools and sadly, many are questionable (you can Google this for yourself).  So, what do you do if you are asked to investigate profiling for your organisation?  Firstly, do some research.  You’ll find that the Big 5 Personality Traits is the most reliable and valid.  My money is on DISC because it looks at behaviour (a full report will give you both your preferred behaviour and your behaviour when you are stressed).

If you have to implement a tool, please make sure that you have a plan in place that goes beyond explaining type – look at how to utilise this information to support working within a team, with your manager, progressing your career and how to make the most of your strengths.

A final note:

Personality typing is only one tool to better understand self and it needs to be used in conjunction with a variety of information about who you are and what you are capable of.  Remember you can always behave outside your comfort zone, depending on the situation because you have the power of choice – a much more powerful tool than the outcome of any personality test.




1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Cara Brett
    Jun 19, 2013 @ 02:31:02

    Great article! I too have unfortuantely seen these tests used as justification for limiting self-belief or worse, for pidgeonholing others.


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