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Personalities at Work

MBTI, Emergenetics, DISC, the Caliper Profile, OCEAN or HEXACO, the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire…

Say whaaaaa?

Personality Assessments

I’ve always been fascinated by personality quizzes. To me, it makes perfect sense that personality assessments are a big business for workplaces. Certain modes of behavior are easier for some people than others, and that will align with certain jobs.

More importantly, when a team member understands how other team members tend to think and which behaviors might be their fallbacks, it can help a great deal. Teams who understand each others’ personalities tend to be more cohesive, collaborative, and effective.

I got started thinking about this again recently when I had the chance to take an Emergenetics assessment and participate in a workshop sponsored by MAFN that helped me better understand how Emergenetics views and talks about personality. Like the older Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Emergenetics provides a pretty detailed report for those who take the assessment. Emergenetics includes an evaluation of both how you think (there are four modes), and how you behave (there are three behaviors).

Personality assessments are often used in recruitment, too, though the types of assessments used for this purpose may be somewhat simpler or more job-focused than others.

Psychology’s View Today

All personality assessments pretty much fall under the category of psychology, however, few psychologists today subscribe to one specific assessment. Some psychologists do not care much at all about personality type; they focus instead on the myriad other aspects of psychological research or practice. However, it does seem that those psychologists interested in personality typing believe there are at least five, and maybe six, core aspects to a human personality. They are: extroversion, neuroticism, openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness, and maybe humility or honesty - all of them existing along a continuum with their opposite.

Many personality assessments cost money, but a few rather rigorous tests can be found online if you look for them. (Hexaco and 16 Personalities - the latter based on MBTI - were two I found quickly.)

Personality Typing at Work

Personality typing at work can be really useful to build teams and help existing teams work more collaboratively and coherently. Understanding why Lisa seems curt and why Steve seems overly interested in details can help you communicate better with them, which ultimately helps the team accomplish more. When teams feel really comfortable with what they’ve learned about themselves and each other, they may even be able to assign tasks based upon how each person prefers to work, improving team performance directly.

If your workplace does not invest (either time or money) in personality profiles, it’s still great to seek out resources to better understand your own preferred ways to think and interact with others. Just remember not everyone thinks or behaves like you do. I recently heard a song lyric that stuck with me. In the song “Still My Heart,” singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco sings, '

“And we all live in the house / Of what we pay attention to.”

If you assume everyone around you behaves like you do - the modes of thinking and behavior you typically pay attention to - you will be very upset when someone does something completely different. Yet, they are only thinking and behaving in the way that feels “normal” to them!


If you’ve done Emergenetics, I’m a trimodal ACS, second third expressiveness and assertiveness, and first third flexibility.

If you’ve done MBTI, I’m an INTP.

And if you love puppies, I do too!


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