#520  from Innovative Leader Volume 10, Number 2          February 2001

FORUM—from our readers

Testing My Personality

Over the last few months, my company has made all staff take a series of tests to check our “personality types.”  Many organizations have used such tests, and the testing people tell us that these tools have been very helpful.  The results from these tests supposedly will improve our communication, team playing and creativity.  For instance, someone who has “X” personality traits is supposed to work and communicate best with other “Xs,” but not with “Ys.”  On the other hand, mixing an “X” person with a “Y” person improves creativity.

Thus, our managers are to use the results of these tests to assign people to teams as well as to decide who should attend various meetings.  This surely is a major benefit to managers.  They just have to follow the formulas of the experts who make up these tests. 

What garbage!  If a manager doesn’t know his or her staff well enough to appreciate who would work best together and who should be paired in meetings, that manager doesn’t know enough to manage--even with these tests made up by psychologists with Ph.D.s and other degrees after their names.  These tests are an artificial crutch.

I also believe the tests do not provide relevant data.  For instance, I could have answered many questions differently, depending on my mood at the time of testing.  Some tests ask what we’d do in a hypothetical situation.  I’d bet if an actual situation, similar to the hypothetical one, came up the responses would be quite different.

While many managers are now enthusiastic about this exercise, it will be interesting to see if these tests, and their results, will be relied upon a year from now.  Probably not, just another wasted exercise, in time and money, to “improve” management. 

I wonder what the next management tool is going to be directed our way?  Will it, like all the others, be used with enthusiasm and, soon after, be ignored?  Well, at least the experts are coming out ahead!

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