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4 Essential Personality Tests for Strategic Recruitment

It’s likely your company will already have screening measures in place when hiring new candidates.

Screening for factors such as work history, educational background, drug use and criminal background are routine recruitment practice across many organizations.

But what about personality? How does your company ensure the candidate your hiring is the best fit the role, your business and the wider company team? By using personality tests during recruitment, you can strategically ensure that you are hiring the best possible candidate for the role.

Benefits of using personality tests for recruitment

There can be many advantages to using personality tests during your hiring process. In today’s competitive market, personality tests can help you narrow down the candidate pool before they even reach the in-person interview stage.

At the interview stage, personality tests can help the interviewer ask questions that delve deeper into the skills and behaviors demonstrated in the personality assessment results. This allows the interview to gauge a deeper understanding of the applicant and whether they would be a suitable fit for the team, role and organization.

When interviewing candidates, it’s important to ensure you don’t get blindsided by their charm or the initial impression they’ve made. Although a candidate may make a great first impression in the interview, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right person for the job. Using personality tests alongside your existing recruitment strategy offers a more rounded and accurate representation of the candidates personality, competencies and working style. All of which will help eliminate any biases created by those first impressions upon meeting the candidate.

Personality tests you need to use in recruitment

There’s an array of personality tests available to choose from. So many in fact that it can be hard knowing which personality test is the right one to use in your recruitment process. To help you get the most out of personality tests for hiring, we’ve evaluated the most popular personality tests for recruitment and devised this list of the four essential personality tests for strategic recruitment. Measuring a variety of candidate metrics, these personality tests can be used together or in isolation to ensure you choose the most suitable candidate. By using these tests to understand the personality and emotional intelligence of your chosen candidate you can help set them up for success in their new career.

Myers Briggs

One of the most widely known and used personality tests is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment. This personality assessment has helped millions of people worldwide gain insights about themselves and how they interact with others. Used by over 88% of Fortune 500 companies, the MBTI assessment can be described as the go-to framework for people development across the world.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator assessment comprises 16 different personality types based upon Carl Jung’s theory of psychological type. The MBTI assessment is a great indicator of cultural fit. Understandings from this personality test can help HR employees to manage personal development, support team and leadership training, diffuse workplace conflicts and evaluate career change, and transitions.

It’s important to note that the Myers Briggs personality test shouldn’t be used as an indicator of performance. Instead, it should be used to inform decisions about whether or not the applicant would be a good cultural fit for the company and the team.

DISC profile

The DISC profile has far fewer personality traits that the Myers Briggs personality test; four to be precise. These 4 personality traits are reflected in the name of the personality test which is an acronym for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. The Everything DISC profile is a shorter and more user friendly version of the DISC personality assessment making it great for use during the interview stage of the hiring process.

The DISC personality test is great for measuring a job applicant’s temperament. However, DISC is ipsative which means it isn’t possible to compare candidate results to one-another. Without the ability to compare test takers’ scores, the test can’t be used to predict future behavior. Instead, DISC should be used to review the potential strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.

Profile XT®

If you’re looking for a pre-employment screening test that is multi-purpose, the Profile XT assessment is exactly what you need. Covering pre-employment screening, selection, development, training, managing, and succession planning, this personality test is an all-encompassing assessment for evaluating the suitability of job candidates.

This employee assessment measures how well an individual fits specific jobs in your organization, and the results can be used during the training or succession planning stages. The Profile XT is customizable allowing you to alter the test to suit your company requirements.

Thanks to its extensive nature, including 20 performance indicators, behavioural traits, interests, aptitude, thinking and reasoning, the Profile XT assessment can be used for candidate matching. As a result, you are able to compare candidates, deduce how well suited each of them are to the role, and find the best-matched candidate for that specific job.

California Psychological Inventory

During the hiring process, it can be difficult to determine how a candidate will handle workplace challenges, relationships and tasks. Understanding a candidate’s competencies and, in particular, how they may react under certain circumstances is crucial for confidently evaluating whether they’ll be successful in the role they’re applying for.

The California Psychological Inventory (CPI) can help remove the guesswork around candidate competencies. This personality assessment offers feedback on work-related characteristics such as sociability, conceptual understanding, and independence. By assessing these characteristics, the CPI can forecast how candidates may react under specific circumstances.

Role-specific personality tests

When hiring for a specific role, you may find that there are role-specific personality tests that you can use to determine candidate suitability.

The Profiles Sales Assessment can be used to measure how well an applicant fits a Sales role so that you can optimize your company sales performance. For customer service roles, you can use the Customer Service Profile to see whether an applicant has the right behavioral characteristics to provide outstanding customer service. Moreover, when hiring for a managerial role it’s important that they will fit the company and team dynamic. By using the Profiles Managerial Fit assessment you can evaluate whether an applicant has the correct managerial style to suit the required supervisor-subordinate relationship.

Personality assessments for improving future performance

It’s important to continue with personality assessments after the hiring process. By testing employees frequently throughout their career, you can evaluate performance and help candidates further themselves with their career.

Personality tests can be advantageous for your organization. By integrating personality assessments into your candidate screening process and employee training program, you can leverage employee happiness and productivity and, in turn, boost the success of your organization.

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How to improve dysfunctional team performance with behavioral assessments

A dysfunctional team is one that consistently loses performance by failing to work and collaborate together in a professional or desirable way. Problems arising in teams and between team members are one of the major problems contributing to loss of performance but solving them can be difficult.

This is especially true because team dysfunction can stem from direct leadership (managers, Scrum leaders, etc.), leaders (business direction, business policy), and from individuals.

Stepping back to assess problems and recognize where things are going wrong is one of the first steps to solving those issues, and in many teams, it will often reveal issues with communication, emotional intelligence, and ego. This may be cultural or local to the team, but should be corrected, and quickly.

One study showed that negative behavior in teams is effective for most dysfunction, although negative behavior may stem from poor soft skills, lack of motivation from leadership, poor leadership, or other issues.

Understanding Teams and Their Leaders

Dysfunctional teams are reflections of a whole. It’s difficult to have healthy leaders or team members if either is unhealthy. But it’s critical to review both independently to look for the source of dysfunction. Chances are, you will find issues with both, but they might both be different and unrelated.

Personality Mapping

Understanding individual personalities that make up a team is important for ensuring teams align in terms of communication style, emotional intelligence, work ethic, work method, and social needs. MBTI shows there are 16 basic personality types and not all of them get along. Team conflicts may stem from simple issues relating to different methods of communication.

For example, a team lead might be communicating in strict, pragmatic instructions to a team made up of mostly creative people who need freedom to do things in their own way, resulting in stifled creativity and dropping morale. In some cases, direct personality clashes can also result in constant or regular conflict, sparking issues throughout the team.

In addition, understanding the personalities of the people on your teams can help with improving performance across the organization. Team composition based on personality is increasingly regarded as important to performance and individual happiness, because a mix of personalities functions better, is more creative, and can collaborate in ways that a silo of similar personalities will not.

Most team frameworks are based on personality assessments like MBTI or The Big 5 but will help you to see where different people complement or clash with each other.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, emotional quotient or EQ is increasingly seen as crucial to how people function together. Emotional intelligence can be defined as a measure of how people recognize their own emotions and those of others, use that information to guide behavior and thoughts, and manage or adjust emotions and thoughts to other people and to achieve goals. EQ dates back to the 1960s, but was popularized by David Goleman, who argues that 67% of leadership and team goals can be met with EQ rather than IQ.

Measuring EQ with assessments like EQ-I 2.0 can help you to understand how well people are communicating. This can be important, especially in instances where some people are emotionally intelligent and others are not.

People who are not emotionally intelligent can come off as rude, impolite, and hurtful. Leaders lacking emotional intelligence can deeply damage morale. Like other soft skills, EQ is a learnable skill and there are workshops, courses, and books on the market to help teams develop those behaviors.

Asking Questions

Sometimes, dysfunctional behavior builds up over time, typically in relation to a few incidents that slowly get worse. What started out as a single toxic person can result in an incredibly dysfunctional team, despite the team otherwise being functional. This type of behavior is difficult to assess without actually going in, asking questions, and seeing how the team works first-hand. Swapping leaders, implementing behavior coaches, and implementing workshops can be a good way to assess this behavior.

Solving Dysfunctional Behavior

It’s difficult to assess a team and immediately recognize where problems are from and why. In some cases, problems stem from processes and bureaucracy. In others, it’s simply teams not working together. And, in others, it’s poor leadership. It’s important to be open minded and unbiased, which potentially means having assessments completed by a third-party.

Problem: Disagreements are not addressed but are problematic

Team members frequently disagree but feel unable to discuss problems or resolve them. This can lead to unhealthy interpersonal conflict and dropping morale. This lack of trust will result in lack of team collaboration because individuals won’t ask for help or feedback, won’t utilize the skills or strengths of others, and, in short, won’t be part of a team.

Solution – Review why teams fail to discuss problems and implement solutions to fix those issues. For example, if teams feel they aren’t listened to, implementing EQ workshops may be a good solution.

Healthy debates should be encouraged, even if encouragement involves creating team-building exercises and working to solve negative behavior such as others calling out individuals in unhealthy ways. Getting over this type of issue may require acknowledging and working on specific instances in personal history.

Problem – People talk about each other behind their backs

This can lead to silos, “cliques” and “us versus them” behavior, and often ripples out from leadership.

Solution – Assess root problems, implement workplace ethics workshops, and stage workshops on having healthy upfront discussions where people feel free to share criticism to each other.

This may also stem from leaders feeling unable to offer criticism to someone who is “emotional”, which likely means the leader needs communication or emotional intelligence training. Feedback should always be given directly to the person, not to anyone else on the team.

Problem – Not everyone contributes

Healthy teams discuss things together. Dysfunctional teams typically rely on one or two people who take up all the time, space, and air. This can stem from people not being listened to, from the leader feeling like they have the only voice, and people simply not feeling as though they can speak up. In a worst-case scenario, people will either pretend to be on board with ideas they don’t agree with or will remain silent, but will end up working on solutions they don’t agree with or like.

Solution – Implement team-building exercises such as role-swapping, create mandatory speaking roles for everyone in the team, and have leaders specifically call out individuals to ensure everyone contributes. Discussion and debate lead to productive creativity and collaboration. Teams have to acknowledge that a certain amount of conflict is productive.

Problem – Teams work aimlessly

Often, this means that communication style doesn’t line up between how projects are communicated and how teams prefer to work. This can result in teams over analyzing and wasting energy or lacking confidence or feeling stifled by too much structure.

Solution – Assess how people communicate and work to match leadership, project, and team styles up as much as possible. Most organizations have space for every type of leader, assessing team types and matching leadership to that team is the best way to solve this issue.

Dysfunctional teams are everywhere, but the causes of dysfunction are often multifaceted. It’s important to assess the full culture including leadership, individual interaction, individuals, and company culture to determine what might be wrong and why. Only then can you implement the right solutions to create teams that stay healthy for the long-term.

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Choosing the Right Assessment for Your HR Needs

Personality and behavior assessments help organizations streamline screening and selection processes using validated and predictive data. This can give insight into not only what makes individuals successful in the organization and in their roles, but also into how people fit together, communicate, complement each other, and contradict each other. Highly effective assessments afford near-seamless options for HR to get a deeper look at candidates, driving better decisions and reducing turnover.

But, with dozens of assessment options on the market, choosing one can be difficult. HR and recruitment professionals are left with the task of narrowing options with the need to show immediate results and return on value to finance. Doing so can be difficult. It can also be a mistake.

Good assessments are made up of multiple assessment tools, typically using frameworks built on multiple assessment types and combining personality, behavioral, competency, and other assessments. In many cases, the same assessments are not valuable across every role or for every individual. So, HR professionals are recommended to create selection criteria and use that to choose a range of tools that will create a better picture of the individual.

Set Goals for Recruitment

Recruitment goals should align with long-term business goals, short-term business changes, and meeting team and culture needs. Chances are, these goals are already defined inside your organization and you can simply adopt them.

Most recruitment professionals also have secondary goals such as:

  • Creating a better recruitment experience for candidates
  • Reducing the cost versus quality of hiring
  • Reducing turnover
  • Improving employee happiness and therefore reducing churn
  • Making unbiased but quality hires

Each of these goals can help you target which assessments you might need depending on selection criteria.

Set Goals for Assessments

What should your assessment do? In most cases, a good assessment will fulfill at least the following goals:

  • Deliver objective and legally defensible information into the hiring process
  • Create a cost-effective and efficient interview process by integrating behavioral and personality testing to highlight desirable or undesirable traits
  • Reduce the need to use hunches and impressions in the hiring process
  • Increase understanding of the candidate’s skills, behavior, preferences, and personality
  • Equip HR with the tools to develop employees and teams and make selections based on that goal

Most assessments fall into a few categories including:

  • Technical skills test (e.g., Excel test)
  • Cognitive ability test (OPM or Harver)
  • Situational judgment test
  • Communication skills test
  • Job simulation test
  • Competency assessment (typically soft skills rather than hard)
  • Behavioral assessment (may overlap with competency)
  • Personality assessment (MBTI)

You can then choose which of these are most relevant to your organization. Here, many organizations can drop technical skills tests (technical skills are easy to train, except where advancement in those skills is crucial to success), to focus on factors such as behavior that influence actual performance. For example, it’s a lot easier to teach a candidate Excel than it is to teach an affinity for numbers and pattern recognition, or a high sense of personal motivation.

Reliability and Validity

Reliability and validity are two incredibly important factors to consider when choosing HR assessments. Here, most are scored based on data on how often individuals score the same on a test.

However, most assessments are scored by their manufacturers or by companies selling those services, so you may want to invest in personal research if you doubt results.

For example, the MBTI foundation publishes that test-takers receive the same results on assessments 75-90% of the time.

Validity is also incredibly crucial. Validity refers to whether an assessment can be validated or not. Most HR assessments will have validity data published online. Most organizations should also continue to collect data to validate the assessment and its results inside their own organization.

This can be difficult and expensive but is necessary to ensure continued budget and the long-term use of an assessment, based on an understanding that it works. You cannot say, “Candidates who score high on X show higher performance, so we will prioritize these candidates in the hiring process”, without validating that data.

Reliable Results

It’s crucial that any test have anti-faking measures and have measures with which to measure that candidates are lying, giving the answers they think you want to hear, and quite simply, panicking. Any test that relies on questions like “I am a hard worker” without using alternative measures to test those results in more subtle ways to validate those answers probably won’t function very well.

Once you have a test, it’s important that any HR or recruitment professionals using it actually take the assessment themselves, and hopefully multiple times. Understanding the assessment, what answering it is like, and what candidates are likely to see in relation to their role is critical to assessing whether results are reliable or not.


Many HR assessments cannot be implemented off-the-shelf. While some out-of-the-box solutions exist, most behavioral and competency assessments will have to be tweaked and updated to meet individual organization’s and should align with a behavioral or competency framework, if one is in place.

For larger organizations, this may mean adjusting assessments, assessment type, and assessment questions based on role, development tract, and whether the intended candidate is intended for eventual leadership development or not. Therefore, it may be crucial that any HR assessment framework you adopt be customizable, or that the provider offers internal analysis and setup to ensure implemented solutions meet your organization’s needs.

No matter what your organization is intending to measure, it’s critical that your assessments be up for the job. This often means choosing assessments that are scientifically validated, reliable, resistant to gaming (cheating), customizable, and able to provide diverse needs based on the candidate, the role, and the hiring manager in question.

For many organizations, this does mean choosing multiple assessments, optimizing each for their own hiring process, and creating a process to improve and further optimize those assessment over time as you begin to collect your own data.

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When to Use Personality Tests in Hiring

Pre-Employment personality tests or assessments are used by some 13% of all organizations, including 89% of Fortune 100 companies. These assessments include MBTI, Caliper Profile, OPQ32, Hogan Personality Inventory, DiSC, and others, but all work to assess and define a candidate’s personality traits based on predetermined profiles.

While pre-employment personality testing is rampant, it’s also come under heavy criticism in recent years, with organizations using personality testing for very specific and sometimes unethical hiring goals (like looking for a specific MBTI type to fill a role). Unfortunately, most personality tests and assessments don’t actually fill those hyper-specific hiring profiles.

At the same time, personality testing can provide valuable insight into the pre-employment screening process. It can guide recruitment and HR professionals as they search for specific people to fill roles, can help to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of a candidate based on existing teams and company culture, and can make it easier for those professionals to create success tracts for those individuals after hire. The following guide outlines some of the occasions when personality testing aids hiring.

When Assessing Culture Fit

Culture-fit, or lack of it, is a key factor behind employee loyalty, employee happiness, and turnover. The high cost of replacing employees is one of the key reasons behind the high adoption of pre-employment personality tests, because it can help to reduce poor culture-fit issues. Personality tests can help you to determine how and where an individual fits into your current culture, where they came from, and whether they could add something or will simply clash with existing culture.

Here, there are several things to keep in mind:

  • Culture clashes may be a good thing if you want to “Shake things up”. But, the culture-clash employee needs to have enough power to drive change or they will simply be ostracized
  • Complementary does not mean the same. If personality testing shows compatible but different styles, this is likely an ideal candidate for the culture
  • Assessing personality aspects such as adaptability, learning style, etc., which can help when determining culture fit and when planning to integrate someone into a culture

To Better Understand the Candidate (And Their Answers)

Personality tests have historically been used in ways that are unsuitable to the personality test. For example, retail stores have long used personality and integrity tests to attempt to gauge the integrity of candidates.

But, data increasingly shows that employees with no integrity are very likely to simply lie on the test. In addition, many employees will simply fill out whatever they think the employer wants to hear, which can be intensely problematic for collecting the right data. Others can give wrong answers because they are panicking, which can also skew data.

What’s the best answer? Retesting, asking employees to take tests multiple times, and ensuring that a portion of any testing includes questions designed to assess the mental state (nervousness, anxiety) and honesty of the candidate. This often involves asking personalized questions which can be verified using other means, re-testing, and slipping the same questions in in multiple formats to assess continuity and intent behind answers.

Candidate answers can help you determine what the employee needs to fit into the organization, their potential development tract, what their onboarding should include, how they should be motivated (fiscally, with development opportunities, with perks, etc.) and much more.

Ensuring Team Fit

Team fit is as if not more important than culture fit. This pertains to how an individual’s personality fits into their team, how they communicate with that team, and what they bring to that team. Here, diversity and complementary personalities are often the best fit. More types of people result in more creativity, more options and solutions, and a broader perspective on problem solving. But, it can result in clashes when personality types don’t get along.

  • Where is your current team weak? What are their flaws? Can other personality traits compensate?
  • What personality types get along with but aren’t the same as existing personality types?
  • Will the individual get along with their new team without fitting into a silo or echo chamber?

In most cases, you get more value from personality tests when you use them to compare the candidate with the team they will fit into, because it allows you to look at long-term potential. It can also help you avoid adding someone who completely does not fit into a team simply because they have a “desirable” personality.

Of course, you always want to follow up with having the candidate actually meet the team, because personality tests can be faulty, but testing can be a good way to narrow candidates down based on potential fit.

Complementing Communication Styles

People communicate in different ways. The more you understand the communication styles of your managers and leaders, the easier it is to choose individuals who fit into those communication styles. Here, you don’t have to choose exact matches. MBTI suggests there are two major types of communicators, NF and SP.

NF communicators use abstraction and mostly want people under them to create their own solutions inside that. SP communicators share exacts and typically want to give or follow instructions. There is a place for both in most organizations, because both fill very valuable roles.

Understanding that upfront will help you to determine placement, so you don’t, for example, put a highly creative and independent person on a maintenance team, or someone who likes to complete tasks on an innovation team.

Assessing Behavior

Behavior is the number one cause of turnover, faulty C-suite hires and promotions, and poor team fit. Personality tests can be excellent assessors of behavior in the pre-hiring phase, because they allow you to assess not only what the individual is answering, but also how they behave in a high-stress environment, how they respond to questioning, and how answers might change across repeat testing. This can give you a significantly better picture of what the candidates real behavior is over simply assessing their prepared answers to questions.

Personality testing isn’t always valuable in hiring. For example, you should never use it to make hiring decisions. It can help you to make smarter decisions regarding placement, onboarding, development, and much more. And, you can use it to follow up on employees after the hire to ensure you continue to understand and support them in the workplace.

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Personality and People Development: Driving Development Programs with Personalized Coaching

Internal development is increasingly seen as a critical strategy for HR. Once, primarily used for internal leadership programs helmed by the likes of Ram Charan and his Leadership Pipeline, internal development has stepped up to fill roles in employee retention, change management, digitization, and employee engagement.

Development gives companies tools to prepare people for change, whether that means training them for new directions their roles will take, new software, new positions, or simply preparing them to stay in the organization as their roles become redundant.

As a result, millions of organizations are leveraging internal development for reasons ranging from workforce shifts to offering job perks.

Many of those programs heavily rely on helping individuals to recognize what they’re good at and why, giving them coaching and career advice to help them shift into development programs that offer fulfillment and value. Here, personality and aptitude testing can play a crucial role in helping HR to define, strategize, and formulate internal development programs.

What Personality Assessments Should You Use?

Most organizations benefit from using a range of assessments and tests, typically mapped to an internal performance framework, aptitude framework, or competency framework. Some of the most common personality assessments in use include:

Big Five – Big Five is a standard but simple personality assessment utilized in therapy as well as work assessments, mapping people to 5 personality traits.

Myers-Briggs – Myers-Briggs is loosely mapped to the Big Five, but maps people to 16 personality types based on 8 diametrically opposed traits. This is the most common personality assessment used by organizations.

Keirsey – Keirsey focuses on identifying different personalities and how they differ, and then training individuals in how those differences are strengths.

DiSC – DiSC maps behaviors at work with the aim of helping people to be more productive. DiSC is useful for helping individuals emphasize and work on strengths while accounting for weaknesses, in work-specific environments.

In most cases, your organization will end up with an assessment provider rather than licensing and delivering personality assessments completely in-house. This will mean you’ll have access to more than one assessment and may be able to use multiple to provide more information, different angles of personality, and validation of results.

Working with Communication Type

Different people communicate in different ways, but most people understand at least some forms of different communication, such as introversion vs extroversion. People communicate in very diverse ways, experiencing the world differently, and learning differently.

Personality and intelligence modelling can help you to understand how individuals learn and communicate, so that you can group them into classes, pair them with coaches, and put them into teams with leaders they can learn from.

Nearly everyone’s heard the quote attributed to Einstein, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid,” but that applies to communication as well. If someone communicates in actualities, they’ll rarely follow abstract coaching. If someone is very emotional, they’ll take offense at someone being pragmatic. And, if someone is very pragmatic, they’ll take very emotional coaching as silly.

Understanding how people communicate gives you the tools to communicate in their language, ensuring that information is fully understood.

Understanding Motivation

It’s less important to understand how a person works and more important to understand why they work. Understanding motivators helps you to understand what to offer, develop, or increase in a person’s workday to enhance productivity, ambition, and learning. Personality tests often help you to assess and even train motivation, looking at factors such as what individuals care about, why, and how much.

While people development often includes aspects of motivational training and motivational coaching, it’s important to understand what you’re working with.

Are people motivated by money? Success? Status? The ability to develop themselves? Things that make work less boring? Engagement? How much of each? You can use this to develop learning profiles including motivational tracts to ensure people stay engaged with what they are learning, stay on track with why they are learning, and are fully engaged with the program and their work.

Coaching Weaknesses

Most personality assessments include some form of weakness assessment, where they will highlight what a person is or is not good at. This remains true whether you’re utilizing Myers-Briggs, a competency framework, or something like DiSC While it’s important not to use weaknesses to keep people out of jobs or to stereotype them, you can utilize them to drive training and coaching to help people develop beyond those weaknesses.

  • How do people’s personalities hinder their performance in their role? How can you coach that to adapt those behaviors to the role?
  • How do people’s personalities hinder their performance in their team?
  • How do personality traits influence communication?
  • How do personality traits negatively influence learning?

A good coach or trainer can utilize personalities to develop programs that help people to function better in their roles, to work on traits that might prevent them from moving into a desired role, or that might impede productivity or workplace happiness.

Growing Strengths

Coaching and personal development is often about recognizing strengths and helping individuals to grow those. Personality assessments are an ideal tool for doing so, because they recognize not just skills and performance, but also the underlying traits that led to those factors.

Understanding if someone is charismatic and outgoing which makes them well-liked as a leader or quiet and reserved but good at people management can also help you to make better judgement calls based on capability rather than simple results, because results are always complex and based on multiple factors.

People are different, nearly infinitely varied, and come with thousands of cultures, conceptions, and biases. Each of these will impact their performance, ability to learn, and development. But, personality type, even if narrowed down to as few as 16 types, can help organizations to identify what a person does well and why, how they learn and communicate, and how they see the world and people around them.

Understanding personality will help your organization to make better calls when designing personal development, to better fit the program to the individual, and to help individuals make better decisions regarding their own direction and learning.

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Behavioral approaches to improving net promoter score

Net Promoter Score or NPS has become the gold standard by which companies judge their interactions with customers. NPS was first designed by Fred Reichheld in 2003 and published in an article in the Harvard Business Review. It uses a single question, “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague” with a 1-10 scale. Most importantly, that number gives organizations a simple way to track customer loyalty and behavior.

While the NPS system has come under criticism, it remains true that customers who are willing to recommend your organization to others will grow your business. An NPS score increase of 7% typically tracks to a business growth of 1%. At the same time, initiatives to improve NPS only work if you actually understand what impacts NPS.

In most cases, a high NPS score tracks to high customer satisfaction, quality customer service, accessibility of information, and ease of service or product use. A surprisingly large number of these factors are impacted by internal company culture, or employee behavior. Why? Behavior impacts how people treat employees, how the product or service is created and delivered, and how the organization presents itself.

Encouraging Empathy (EQ)

Emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quota, is important in changing how people react and respond to each other. A highly emotionally intelligent person is able to recognize their own and the emotions of others, respond to those emotions, and keep those emotions in mind when making decisions that relate to other people. Encouraging EQ normally means testing for it and then implementing workshops and training to develop EQ where it’s lacking.

For most teams, customer service and customer assistance are the most important for this behavior. However, emotional intelligence improves productivity and collaboration across the organization, which will eventually improve performance and results, which also impact customer satisfaction and NPS.

How much does emotional intelligence impact NPS? Cowry Consulting worked with Aegon B.V. to improve NPS through customer contact center interactions. Cowry identified issues relating to lack of human depth, lack of advisor understanding of how and why customers make decisions.

Cowry implemented training to help assistants understand why people make decisions, rewrote scripts to make them more human, and redesigned how information was presented to ensure it appealed on an emotional level.

Aegon also shifted internal policy to assigning a lifetime contact to a customer, so they always connected with the same person when calling. The result was an over 36-point increase in NPS, with a 68.5% increase in sales conversions.

Build Teams that Work Together

Your teams ultimately impact everything the customer is able to get out of your organization. Building smoothly functional, productive, and collaborative teams is essential to providing a good experience and a good product.

Healthy teams communicate, work together, aren’t afraid of disagreement, let each other be heard, and consistently work to improve. Achieving this can involve a set of behavioral training, matching personalities, and changing policies to allow people to work in efficient and healthy ways. Let’s look at some examples:

Marketing and Sales

Are teams setting the right expectations during lead generation or are they simply generating as many leads as possible? Is marketing following up with sales? Is sales closing with information connected to development? Are customers pushed through the sales process as quickly as possible to raise sales numbers? Most of these problems relate to expectations set around maximum sales and maximum lead generation. They don’t result in happy customers. It’s often a result of:

  • Poor performance and compensation systems (linked to quotas, not behavior and score)
  • Competition
  • Lack of empathy or concern for the customer

Product and Design

Are people focused on how the product or service offers value? Or simply on putting out new features? Is UX a concern? Are problems checked for and removed before they reach the customer? Is quality assurance involved in every stage of the process>

  • Assess how teams are connected to customers
  • Assess how teams are put together and how communication, management, and interpersonal styles line up

Customer Service and Support

Does customer service put the customer first? Are they looking at how and why customers are making decisions? Are hold times long? How does customer service treat customers? Does support make customers happy or just fix issues and move on? What are responses when there’s no clear solution?

  • Create policies that ensure teams have room to make empathetic decisions
  • Train support professionals in communication styles, EQ, and recognizing different types of personalities
  • Implement customer personas to help support professionals learn to recognize different communication styles and needs

You also want to look at how personalities link together in each team, ensure that teams actually collaborate, and that communication styles line up.

Building Internal Motivation and Buy-In

It’s difficult or even impossible to improve Net Promoter Score without encouraging employee buy-in. This broad term encapsulates motivating employees to engage with their work as well as with the customer, because, eventually, they mean the same thing. Teams have to fully engage with their work and believe in what they are doing. While many issues here are operational (management, work processes, lack of communication relating to short and long-term goals), many also relate to behavior.

Here, it’s important to understand employees. Using personality tests, EQ assessments, and behavioral frameworks can help you to map how individuals communicate, how leadership communicates, and how you can best fit that together or improve what you have through training and communication. Healthy teams engage with work, communicate better, and eventually produce better work – resulting in happier customers and a higher Net Promoter Score.

While there are many aspects to improving NPS, behavior and behavior management is important. The more you understand how people work and work together, the more you can ensure internal and external teams behave and collaborate in ways that add value for the customer.

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How Personality Types Contribute to High Performance Teams

Good team design is critical to ensuring the productivity and collaborative creativity of those teams. “High performance” in a team is often tracked to output in numbers, but often it links to how well people get along, communicate, and collaborate. Factors encouraging this include good leadership, policies and work processes, and emotional intelligence, but personality type is always a consideration.

People must fit into a team in such a way as to complement without copying the rest, so that they can work in a fast, efficient, and creative way. Most importantly, teams should be balanced mixes of different personality types and cultures, allowing for diverse opinions, different points of view, and a range of solutions, or a truly “high performance” team.

While eventually only team leads will have true insight into how individuals work together, high performance teams rely on having structure that purposely fits people together. Eventually, this kind of structure must be implemented into the hiring process, into team design, and into HR, so that everyone has the tools to hire and place people in ways that make sense.

Understanding Personality Types

Different organizations utilize different ways to categorize and define how people fit together. In some cases, you may want to use several. For example, Belbin Team Roles maps personalities and then asks 3-5 people to fill out roles that make up a high-performance team.

The most popular personality type indicator is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which uses 16 personalities loosely mapped to Carl Jung’s Big 5 Personality Framework. MBTI uses four dichotomies, or 8 personality factors to split people into 16 personality types based on how they interact, communicate, and handle themselves and situations. This method is the most common in that 89% of Fortune 500 companies utilize it during the hiring process.

Most organizations eventually utilize a personality indicator alongside a core competency or behavioral model for teams. This allows you to map skills and personality traits to what is already in the team, enabling better decisions and better team matches.

One of the easiest examples is creativity. If you were to take a single 5-person team and form it entirely out of people who excel at creating new things, you’d have a very creative team on your hand. They could collaborate to innovate processes, work, and tools across your organization.

If you make that same team out of people who excel at improving existing work, you have a team that would excel at maintenance, overhead, and day-to-day work. But, if you were to go half and half, you’d have a divided team that would be disadvantageous to itself.

Major Types of Communication

Communication is one of the most important factors of teamwork, and there are many types of communicators. MBTI groups people into four types, which can be further condensed into two types (SP and NF). The four types are:

Thinking – Thinking persons are decisive, systematic, and logical. They are critical, analytical, and judgmental, but communicate in straightforward, and clear-cut fashions. While this makes communication easy and can be very valuable on a team that wants to communicate and move forward quickly, it can be perceived as arrogant, condescending, and aggressive to more emotional thinkers.

Feeling – This group is sympathetic, warm, sociable, and supportive. Feeling types are warm, will go out of their way to be diplomatic and tactful, and will consider the emotions of most people in a room. On the flip side, they can be dramatic, emotional, sentimental, and fussy. Balancing these types with more decisive types is important.

Sensing – Sensing types are realistic and practical with a focus on concise and efficient communication, often at the expense of emotions. This can cause clashes with feeling types, because they can appear to be cold, demanding, and harsh.

Intuitive – Intuitive types often bridge Thinking and Sensing types with Feeling types, but bring their own adaptable and versatile approach. They communicate perceptively but with emotion, make changes based on facts and emotions, and are resourceful. They may also be impulsive, be easily bored, and may have unrealistic expectations.

Other frameworks utilize different types of communication, but it’s important that your communication types complement and get along. In most cases, you want to pay the most attention to abstract versus concrete thinkers, Feeling and Intuitive people tend to prefer to communicate in abstracts and guidelines, Sensing and Thinking people tend to prefer to communicate in precise words and exacts.

Creating a Balance of Personalities

Any team dynamic should be composed of balance, cognitive diversity, and variety. Individuals should be able to challenge each other to drive creativity and to build new things. If you simply fit like-minded people with like-minded people, you create silos, echo chambers where everyone simply agrees with a few louder thought leaders. The team becomes static and rarely creative.

HR should introduce and manage cognitive diversity as part of team structure. This means looking for different types of complementary personalities. It also means looking at culture, information processing styles, education, and work experience, but personality will play a huge role. Importantly, if you do introduce diverse personalities into a team, it’s critical to follow up, ensure that everyone is communicating well and with empathy, and that leaders are able to recognize and work with the different communication and personality styles present in the team.

It’s also important to look for balance. Diversity for the sake of diversity can be a mistake if it creates clashes or communication styles that are completely opposite.

There’s No Wrong Personality Type

While personality types can be valuable for helping you to build a diverse team, it’s important to keep in mind that no personality type makes someone uniquely suited for something. There’s no wrong personality type. Consider using your personality framework as a loose matrix of what is wanted or required rather than a die-hard rule. People can and will sometimes fit all the requirements and more, while not showing those requirements on a test, especially if that test is taken under pressure.

Your best option is always to ensure that your recruiter is cognizant, aware of how people work, and able to make judgement calls using perception as well as direct test results.

Personality frameworks are an extremely useful way to improve team design and team structure, simply because they give you factors to look for that help teams communicate and collaborate more efficiently.

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How Emotional Intelligence Drives High-Functioning Teams

Most organizations are obsessed with performance. The “high-functioning team” is the operational idealization of what a team should be. It collaborates, it works together, it communicates, and it resolves personal problems that arise without ever letting them get in the way of productivity.

While organizations have tried to achieve the perfect balance to achieve high-functioning teams through performance management, motivation, hiring and firing, changing hiring strategies, and shuffling teams around, no method proves quite so effective as implementing emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence or EQ measures how individuals recognize, understand, and act their and other’s emotions. It includes skills such as self-regulation, self-awareness, social-awareness, and effective communication, as well as empathy. And, it’s essential in teams because it impacts how team members collaborate, communicate, and share with each other.

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Teamwork takes Practice

Corporate teamwork is not a natural state for most people. The average person has not developed meaningful collaborative skills, despite years of working in teams. Instead, they’ve learned that other people slack, a few people end up taking on all the responsibility, and that standards and expectations vary from person to person.

At the same time, collaborative work produced in teams has more than doubled over the last 2 decades, people are asked to work together more often, in more ways, and to collaborate even when not in the same room.

Emotional intelligence allows team members to take other’s needs into account, to communicate for coordination, and to collaborate in meaningful ways. It also allows individuals to more easily grasp what others are communicating and why.

Communication and Collaboration Ensure Everyone Performs

Most performance management insights show that 20-25% of employees perform as much as 60% of the work and 3-5% of employees are responsible for 20-35% of meaningful collaborations. But what makes a high performer?

Harvard Business Review suggests that the primary differentiator between high and low performers is actually collaboration and communication. High performers have significantly larger internal networks, better communication skills, and focus on sharing information. The study, which included data from 50 fortune 500 companies taken across 5 years concluded that productive people connect with others, albeit in different ways.

Building emotional intelligence helps teams to communicate and to collaborate, while ensuring everyone is heard, listened to, and valued. This will, in turn, encourage the communication of those individuals, and likely improve their productivity.

Emotional Regulation Contributes to Productivity

Emotional regulation is a valuable skill for interpersonal communication, because it allows individuals to recognize what emotions they’re feeling and to discuss that emotion. It also allows an individual to recognize when their emotion isn’t called for or warranted (or warranted in a professional setting), allowing them to make better calls and to modulate their behavior.

Studies also show that productivity isn’t about in-depth discussion or having a perfect team. Good teamwork is about recognizing when a quiet member might want to voice something and asking, acknowledging when there are problems and discussing them, and treating others with respect, even when you don’t agree.

Good emotional regulation means that a person will respond calmly when someone is angry or confrontational, will respond with empathy when someone is upset or in a situation that could be hurtful, and will take steps to communicate in ways that are perceived well by their colleagues.

Empathy Builds Trust

In “Linking Emotional Intelligence and Performance at Work”, Vanessa Druskat and Steven Wolff share that trust is one of the critical factors for team performance. EQ is heavily linked to trust because it fosters an environment in which employees are able to establish emotional and psychological safety, to put themselves at risk, and to rely on others.

If a team member is willing to do more work because they know you’re struggling and empathize, you build trust. Emotional regulation (stability), self-awareness (humility and perception), and social awareness (empathy and social perception) result in people taking actions that benefit people around them, which will build trust. And, teams that trust each other can rely on each other.

Hard Conversations Build Team Strength

Teams that pretend everything is going well, ignore difficult conversations, or worse, have difficult conversations behind others’ backs are unhealthy teams. Decisions require complex interpersonal awareness, interplay, collaboration, and dissent.

People should be willing to challenge each other, step back and ask for opinions, and share emotions. Individuals should feel free to share opinions and ideas without fear or risk. And, problems and disagreements should be brought up and discussed in constructive ways.

If a team feels it can rely on its members to resolve issues, if people can openly talk about issues, and if people are allowed to have disputes and disagreements, the team will thrive.

Emotionally Intelligent Leaders Build a Sense of Purpose

High performance often depends on leaders, which is one of the reasons why many organizations are moving performance management away from individual performance and towards team performance. Leadership needs high emotional intelligence skills, simply because they typically have to manage and communicate with different personality types, people with different levels of emotional intelligence, and vastly different communication styles.

This requires a high level of external empathy, social awareness, personal awareness, and self-regulation. It also applies whether that person is an official team lead or an unofficial one, because leaders always impact performance.

Emotional intelligence has remained immensely popular since the term was coined by Daniel Goleman in the 90s. This means there are plenty of resources including assessments, workshops, and coaching designed to assess EQ in teams and then develop individual behaviors to achieve higher EQ for better performance, collaboration, and team happiness.


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The pros and cons of outsourcing your HR department

The digitization era is creating multiple changes and opportunities across industries, and HR is no exception. One of the most popular practices these days is to outsource certain departments to achieve maximum benefit with minimal financial investment.

While outsourcing development or design teams is common practice, more and more companies have started to outsource HR as well. For a long time, HR has been associated with in-house processes only, but its outsourcing could bring numerous benefits.

The pros of outsourcing the HR department

The process of outsourcing your HR department has some hidden gems that many company owners may not be aware of. But as soon as you see the whole image, you might consider trying outsourcing as well.

Reduced costs

The HR department doesn’t create any visible products (like software developers do) but at the end of the day, it’s up to HR to maintain a healthy work atmosphere and find the best talent for the company.

Logically, any company that understands the value of HR would want to have a well-organized and large infrastructure of HR specialists at their disposal. Unfortunately, not many companies can afford that. This leads to one of the biggest benefits of outsourced HR – the availability at relatively low cost.

Because the services of part-time outsourced specialists can cost less than full-time in-house services, it allows business owners to save money while retaining a high quality of work.

Different perspectives

In-house HR specialists tend to get used to the people and processes in a company, potentially overlooking certain issues due to the lack of unique perspective.

Hiring outsourced HR specialists will help you get an outside perspective that brings a fresh look and non-biased angle. Eventually, you’ll want your specialists to onboard and get used to the team as well, but outsourced specialists can usually pinpoint certain problems with your company, suggest possible areas for improvement and help you look at processes differently. And if the company experiences stagnation or cannot reach any significant progress, this is a really actionable method to try.

Better expertise

Outsourced HR can come at a relatively low price, while not harming quality of service. Outsourcing HR to specialists can even increase the chances of finding knowledgeable experienced professionals, with rich expertise who can deliver tangible results to your company.

When you have an in-house department already, collaboration with outsourced specialists can fill gaps in your in-house expertise. If your in-house team lacks a certain skill, but you can’t justify a full-time employee, an outsourced specialist will save the day and resolve the issue.

Focus on core processes

By outsourcing HR processes, businesses, particularly startups and small businesses with a core team, will free up your employees from the people management busy-work that was no doubt getting done out of scope. Once you assign specialists to work with the documentation and other processes you didn’t even realize could help your entire team, you’ll find more time for other role-focused tasks.

Outsourced HR helps a company focus on  core processes and ensure the company moves in the right direction. With dozens of minor tasks, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and shift away from the main goal.

The cons of outsourcing the HR department

Even though outsourcing HR seems like a good idea so far, there are some red flags to look out for, and other items that could mean it’s not for you.

Lack of loyalty

Companies spend a fair amount of time on their internal PR strategy, ensuring that all employees share the company’s goals and are loyal to it. So it’s interesting how some HR specialists who promote loyalty and engagement may not be so loyal themselves.

In the case of outsourced specialists, get ready for a low level of loyalty towards the company. Such specialists are not paid for loving your brand – they are paid for fixing certain issues. Though it may be a problem for some company owners, for others it’s acceptable to sacrifice loyalty if a specialist can get your processes back on track.

Lack of knowledge about internal processes

Even if your outsourced HR specialist comes up with a brilliant strategy, if it isn’t applicable to your business and team model, it won’t help you at all.

Whereas in-house specialists know the ins and outs of your company, outsourced HR professionals may not have such in-depth knowledge. This can harm their efficiency and could introduce problems in the pipeline.

Risk of losing confidentiality

Every good company cares about the confidentiality of its employees and their personal data.

However, because a HR professional closely works with people, they might obtain sensitive data. When not handled carefully (although uncommon), it can create data leaks.

When choosing an outsourced HR department, be careful to ensure trustworthiness and have the proper documentation in place (ie. NDAs and other agreements).


Outsourcing your HR department can improve your operations, but first you should define your business goals, current issues, and expectations.

It may happen that you already have all the needed assets and tools at your disposal and do not need third-party assistance. Or it may happen that only a third-party intervention can set things right for your company.

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Managing virtual project teams

Companies across the world have gone through (or are considering) a permanent shift to remote work in response to the “new normal” that is a worldwide pandemic. However, remote working isn’t a new concept. You could argue that remote work first began 1.4 million years ago to the hunter-gatherer culture of Africa. The medieval period of England also saw people working from home as dressmakers, butchers, and watchmakers, to name a few.

These days, remote work is an important part of our working culture as companies are embracing remote work more than ever. As a team leader or project manager, this shift to remote work can also mean having to manage remote teams. Managing virtual project teams present different challenges to leading a team on-site. As differences in time and place add certain complexities to project work, it’s important that you understand how best to manage a virtual project team.

In this article, we’ll share our best practices for managing a remote project team, so you can lead with confidence as a remote project manager.

Communication is key

Communication is an important component of any successful team. In order to work effectively, team members need to be able to clearly communicate with each other. However, working remotely can put strain on team communication, especially if team members are working in different time zones.

One solution for improving communication for virtual project teams would be to make use of virtual communication tools. Instant messaging programs such as Slack are great for bringing remote team members together, helping them to have quick, fuss-free, two-way communication.

Similarly, you could use video call software to help mirror on-site team meetings by allowing everyone to see and speak to each other during the video meeting. Zoom allows users to record meetings, meaning your team can re-watch the video to recap on key points, or if they were unable to attend the meeting due to being in a different timezone, they can catch up on the meeting at a time that’s suitable for them.

Using digital tools for communication is perfect for creating effective asynchronous and synchronous communication. Misunderstandings can happen in any work environment. With 97% of employees citing lack of alignment within a team as impacting the outcome of a task or project, it’s evident that transparent and open communication is key for the success of a virtual project team. Using these tools to stay in the loop with your team can also help you to swiftly resolve any conflicts and prevent strain on the team.

Define roles and responsibilities

There’s nothing worse than a disorganized team. If you are leading a remote team, you will need to clearly define team member’s roles and responsibilities. When teams have clear functions and responsibilities, they know what is expected of them and work more efficiently.

To determine the roles and responsibilities of your virtual project team, you need to consider what tasks need completing, identify the strengths and weaknesses of each team member and refer to their existing job description. By considering these factors, you can allocate work to your team members based on their strengths, area of expertise and general duties. 

Understanding what each person contributes and is responsible plays an important role in working well together and succeeding as a team. By providing clear roles and responsibilities, you will be able to better support your virtual project team. You can also use virtual project management tools to help clarify responsibilities.

Trello, for example, is a great tool for visually managing team projects and individual team member responsibilities. You could also use project management tools, such as Basecamp, to set up automatic check-ins asking your team to provide daily updates on what they are working on, what’s gone well and what they need support with. This will facilitate the process of task allocation and ensure your team has the tools and support they need to succeed.

Use collaboration tools

As mentioned, virtual project management and collaboration tools are useful for managing team responsibilities. These tools are also beneficial for encouraging your virtual team to work together on projects. A report by Harvard Business Review found that 75% of cross-functional teams were dysfunctional and failed in at least three of five areas: meeting a planned budget, staying on schedule, adhering to specifications, meeting customer expectations, or maintaining alignment with the company’s corporate goals. So, as a virtual project manager, you will want to put systems in place to ensure your team is able to successfully work collaboratively.

Project management apps are a great way to centralize team communications. Project management tools enable everyone on your team to share updates, write messages, and ask questions without having to be in the same room, or time zone.

One of the greatest benefits of having a remote team is that it gives you access to talent from around the world. Yet, this means you also need to consider the different time zones in which your team members live. By moving shared documents and work files online, you can help improve cross-collaboration by ensuring your team all have access to the most up-to-date versions of team resources. This will help to improve the workflow for your remote team whilst minimizing the risk of misunderstanding or error.

Set up a virtual water cooler

Foster a community mindset by ensuring your team has a “virtual water cooler” where they can get together to talk, bond and build relationships as a team. While it’s important to set up formal communication channels to allow your team to communicate about work-related tasks, it’s equally as important that you provide your team with a virtual breakout space. 

Giving your team a space where they can talk about non-work topics, build a shared identity and nurture personal connections will lead to greater team engagement and better performance. Setting up a virtual water cooler can encourage your team to bond, inspire new creative ideas, build connections, and feel as though they belong within the team.

Understand how best to support your project team

Finally, the best way to successfully support your remote project team is to understand them as individuals. Personality tests are beneficial for more than just the hiring process. Using personality assessments as part of your remote team management process can help you better support your project team.

With personality tests you will be able to understand which communication style works best with each member, what their preferred style of working is, the types of people they’ll work best with, and how to ensure they have the best chance at success.

When you know your team members personality type, you will be able to adapt your leadership style to suit their needs.Make sure you schedule regular check-ins with each of your team members so that you can find out how they are doing and whether they need support with anything. 

The most important thing to remember when managing a virtual project team is to keep communication lines open, remain organized and be supportive. As a remote project manager you will face challenges that often aren’t experienced in an office environment but by following these best practices for leading a virtual team, you will be able to successfully lead your project team, no matter where they are based.

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