I used to think I was more security focused and less idea focused, less creative and more production oriented, less relationship oriented and more detail/numbers oriented, not as good with people and better in an office by myself. Yesterday I realized that I am not who I thought I was. In particular I am referring to my personality style.
For years I I am often surprised when I ask a company, “What kind of personality style metrics do you guys use?” Usually they respond that they don’t have any. This is surprising because it seems like such a basic organizational tool. How someone usually operates in transactions with others seems like a powerful tool to use in managing people and getting to their fundamental motivations.
There are several personality styles tests out there, some of which are better than others. Many of us have heard of DISC profiles, but my favorite personality style is Market Force (http://www.marketforceglobal.com/). They have a phenomenal approach to personality styles that is more about fundamental fears and motivations than general personality styles. Unfortunately the majority of the business world has yet to hear about the glories of Market Force. Perhaps for lack of a better option, they will have contracted with a very expensive company the rights to rent the intellectual property of a large 300-question quiz that is as painful to take as it is to view the results.
Often you are prepped with a few disclaimers, “think of how you usually behave in a business environment.” Great, well the business environments that I am usually in are not always the most healthy or high functioning. Another is”there are no right or wrong answers,” oh really? So if I put down that I am “very unlikely” to be well organized and am “very likely” to lie to bend the rules because I want to that’s not going to raise a red flag?
The fundamental issue with tests of these kinds is that people have a lot of fear going into them, and that shapes our responses in one way or another. To be honest, I am not terribly organized, but I don’t want anyone to know that. I also like to think that I am honest, though I am likely to take a few quarters out of our grocery money to buy myself a coffee. But what makes a personality test effective is when we realize that all of us have a shared set of fears that no personality type has a monopoly on. What are these common fears.
- Fear of rejection. You know, good sales people don’t necessarily need to be any specific personality type. Even the most gregarious and perhaps pushy people might have a greater fear or rejection than an accountant.
- Fear of risk/failure. Each of us has a different appetite for risk and failure at any given moment in our lives. This can depend on a wide number of external factors (sleep, sickness in family, loss of a relationship or loved one). Yes an engineer can love to take risks or they can hate it. A flamboyant marketer can also be petrified of doing something that hasn’t been done before.
- Fear of punishment. This has more to do with our internal parent-child psychology than anything else. If we are afraid for being hurt for being anything other than who we really are, then we are putting an undue burden on ourselves.
So, when you are about to take a personality test, first, make sure you clear your mind of these fears, otherwise your test will likely come out having put you in the wrong category. You will sabotage the meaningful information that you might otherwise have.