Corporate Shrink: Question of the Week

What do you think about the use of personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs, in business situations, including hiring and promotion decisions, career choices, and team building?

Let us know what you think!

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17 Comments

  • Sharon

    Having made good and productive use of the MBTI with my clients (business executives/leaders and their teams) for nearly 20 years, I offer my thoughts (heavy-handed though they be):
    1. The MBTI should *never* be used for selection; it is not appropriate for that as it is not a predictor of performance, nor of behavior.
    2. Other trait-based personality profiles, such as the "big 5" described by Tom, may be valid and useful predictors of performance, especially when success profiles have been carefully constructed and validated for your own organization.
    3. The MBTI is a terrific tool for individual and team development. it also offers an interesting way to address issues of diversity and inclusion, if properly used.
    4. If you're going to have someone introduce the MBTI (or any tool) to your organization, make sure they have the credentials to teach the ethical and appropriate use of the information. [weblink - http://www.aptinternational.or...] (if they don't bring this up, maybe you shouldn't hire them.)
    5. If you lead a group, please don't introduce the MBTI to your folks "for fun." It's not a party game (a la 'name-that-type'). It is, instead, a powerful, complex tool - one that can be used to develop leaders and teams, to improve self-awareness (a core EQ capability), and actively leverage differences between people.

  • Johanna Rothman

    I use MBTI to understand myself and as a tool if I run into misunderstandings. (Am I "badgering" an Introvert with an in-the-hall question? Does a Perceiver need to explore more options?)

    I don't use -- nor do I recommend -- any personality tests when hiring. See Types Not Useful for Hiring Decisions. I do recommend behavior-description questions and auditions.

  • Tom Snider-Lotz

    As a psychologist who specializes in employment selection testing, my first concern in choosing a personality test is whether it meets legal standards for validity. From this standpoint, the best choice is a test based on the "Big Five" personality factors. There are several of these. In particular, research has found the Conscientiousness dimension of such tests has the highest relationship with job performance.

    I think the Myers-Briggs and DISC can be useful ways to help people understand themselves and their co-workers, but I would never use them in making a decision about hiring or promotion. They should always be used with the help of a trained facilitator, someone who will warn people not to read too much into them and not to get carried away with categories.

  • Rayne

    Having seen MBTI applied across a global enterprise by a Fortune 100 company, I can say it has a lot of potential - both good and bad.

    Positives for MBTI are that employees have a better understanding of themselves and can frame their career planning more effectively if they are more in touch with themselves and the organization in which they work; employees may acquire better tools for relating to co-workers, management and clients through increased understanding of personality interaction.

    Negatives for MBTI are the potential for misuse by management (internally recruiting only one personality type for Sales or for Research, for example); incomplete training on flexibility index (capacity for persons to stretch from personal state to another's state in order to communicate more effectively) can render MBTI nearly useless as a tool for improving collaborative teams; MBTI not optimally effective without refreshing the data and training regularly.

    I've used my understanding of MBTI extensively over the last 15 years; it's been an enormous help, particularly when teams are composed of personalities that are at the far reaches of the four quadrants. But I have seen it abused as well; nothing quite like excessive homogeneity in a team's members to completely kill innovation; a little controlled friction and dynamic tension is a wonderful thing.

    (p.s. What's with the multiple posts??)

  • Kristin Leydig Bryant

    I have used the MBTI in a variety of situations for many years. The challenge with the MBTI is that it tells you about "preferences" -- not abilities -- and therefore it is unethical to use it to screen employees or to use it as a data point in decisions like promotions. However, it is extremely useful in giving people non-judgmental language to think about themselves and others and their interactions, effective communication styles, and decisionmaking.

  • Kevin Leversee

    89% of the Fortune 100 use the Myers Brigg Indicator. (Boston.com)
    90% of the Global 500 use online recruitment tied with an applicant tracking system.

    Assessments, psychometric testing, profiling, ATS, talent management, all mere terms the recruitment industry keeps creating for the promise of pushing people into categories. And magically somehow with a push of a button they can get the right individual for your company.

    A series tests won’t do it. An automated applicant tracking system that gathers limited explicit information and matches to keywords isn’t the answer either. It is through a series of checks, such as reputation, 360 profiling, professional history and past social works that offers a better representation of an individual.

    It is a trend of human nature to categorize individuals. From the earliest sciences we were seeking, (as if some physical trait could tell us) more about who that person is to a predetermined scale rather than what this person is capable of being...

    It seems in present times thanks to Rorschach (created ink blot tests in the 1930’s) a movement to create a system that will identify everything you need to know about an individual. But the lasting popularity of the Rorschach has little to do with empirical validity.

    There are serious problems…

    Recruitment is not Supply Chain Management. Candidates are people, and people are dynamic, fluctuating daily with dreams visions and personal aspirations.

    When you test you gather the snapshot of that person at that moment in time.

    A lot of the tests are open to interpretation (of the limited information gathered.)

    A lot of people hurry through and don’t really apply.

    Many lesser known tests and assessments (some of them questionable) use the Barnum Principle: They have a little something for everyone. Ppeople tend to seriously overestimate the degree to which general statements can fit them uniquely.

    That said I am for some tests, used, as a tool but get nervous when I see them used as the key denominator.

    -Kevin Leversee
    Kevin Leversee is an entrepreneur with a passion for people and knowledge. He is founder and director of Zed Tycho and the brand gooru. Zed Tycho Pty. Ltd. And our brand Gooru is comprised of industry leaders who have a passion for people and helping them achieve their top goals in life.

  • Julie

    As a former hospital CEO, I found the MBTI invaluable in addressing a variety of organizational challenges (building high performing teams, improving interdisciplinary communication, performance planning, etc.). I'm such an advocate that I'm currently involved in innovate research exploring successful leadership and MBTI type. Our findings are fascinating and significant! You can view executive summaries at http://www.ideashape.com/leade..., or contact me for more information.

  • Elaine

    I agree that in my experience the Birkman tool is more versatile for use in a larger number of situations (ie looking at stress behaviors, etc)

  • Kathryn

    Personality tests throw light on ASPECTS of personality. They are useful, but not definative. I find an equally important corollary has to do with fit to culture. I think all employees should have a equal right to have the new culture assessed before they hire in.

  • Viagra

    Myers-Briggs is a valuable and much researched tool. The danger is that people are going to use it for things it was never intended for. It shouldn't be 100% of the data for the decision, as if it were a quantitative measure of qualitative data. But it does have a (small) role in telling how successful someone is going to be in a given position.

    BRV
    edrugstore-guide

  • Colin Parker

    Personality instruments can be a great help. I use them a lot. Without going into technical depth, one shouldn't really use a type indicator like the Myers Briggs for recruitment, although it is very useful for personal development.

  • Valeria Maltoni

    They are useful tools to augment awareness about oneself and others and to wrap up a common language around interactions.

    Over the years, I have joined several initiatives adopted by business peers and used many incarnations of these tools: Myers Briggs, DISC, Birkman's, etc.

    I've found the quantitative quality of the Birkman's to be the most useful in understanding intellectual styles and stress behaviors (this is usually the part that gets us in trouble) and learning to ask the right questions.

    The extensive report I got from Birkman's also expanded my thinking in terms of aptitudes and work.

  • Earl

    Myers-Briggs personality type question: WWYT - what were you thinking - when you dumped/allowed to go Seth Godin? Please stop moving backwards. Please remove the political slant from FC, and from Inc., too. You are better than that, especially before G+J took over. FC can be great again, if the top dogs allow it. Think about it.

  • Glen Tapanila

    Interesting article on Myers-Briggs and other tests in this week's New Yorker. Must be used with care.