How Psychometric Testing Can Help You Build Stronger Teams

You may have heard about the use of personality tests, or psychometric testing, in business contexts in order to achieve a higher standard of management and team building. Today we’re going to look at what these tests measure and the ways that they can bring business benefits to your team.

Why study personality?
The theories of personality psychology may be interesting to read about, but more than this they can provide concrete advice on how to work more effectively. Psychometric testing can be used to give insights which enable people to gain self-understanding, letting them be more aware of their personality style and strengths and weaknesses. From this information, people can learn better strategies for interactions with others based on the specific needs of each personality type.

In a business context, psychometric testing can bring distinct benefits to your team. You can adapt your management style to bring out the best from each member of your team by finding the correct motivation and communication style for them. And by sharing the insights into personality that you gain with your team, they can interact with each other in a more effective and productive way as well.

Types of personality tests
As complicated as humans are, there are many different ways to measure and define personality. In academic contexts, personality is most frequently analyzed in terms of the degree to which a person displays the ‘big five’ personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Another style of psychometric testing which is popular among the public and in some business contexts is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) system, which is based on the theories of Carl Jung. The MBTI assigns personality to a pole from each of the dichotomies of sensing/intuition, feeling/thinking, introversion/extroversion, and perception/judging.

The Insights Discovery profile system that we use at Discover Yourself is also based on the work of Jung, but with greater detail than MBTI and with profiles that are optimized to provide information for management contexts. Each Insights profile will give concrete advice on communicating with, managing, and motivating the person, as well as information on how the person would manage others.

The benefits of personality testing
The advantage of personality testing is that it gives you a set of tools with which to think about yourself. Do you interact best working alone in a small team or do you thrive in a large group? Do you prefer a high level of organization with rigid structures, or are you more comfortable in a flexible situation where you can respond quickly to new information? Do you communicate most effectively in a written, visual, or oral form? These are the kinds of insights that you can clarify with personality testing.

When it comes to personality testing in business, the creation of a space in which people can express their preferences is a tremendous boon. Perhaps a team member finds phone calls stressful and would prefer to be emailed when possible. Or a manager likes to be looped in on all relevant emails by their staff, even if they are not directly involved in the discussion, so that they can maintain an overview of their team. In the work world there are rarely opportunities for members of teams to frankly discuss their personal preferences, and personality testing enables and supports these conversations to give your team confidence when interacting with each other.

Understanding personality test data
If you are considering using psychometric testing to gather information on your team, there are a few key issues to remember. Most important is the understanding that results from psychometric tests are descriptive, not prescriptive. This means that personality data can describe the ways in which a person will tend towards thinking and interacting with others, but does not provide strict rules about how a person will always behave. Each person is different, and while personality testing can be used for broad general information about personality types, individual differences will always be present. This means that personality tests should be used as guidelines and inspiration for experimentation with new communication styles, and not taken to represent a fundamental and unchangeable part of a person.

Further, psychometric tests like MBTI and Insights rely on people’s own judgment of themselves and their self-reporting of these judgments. Therefore the results will only be as accurate as a person’s honesty and self-insight. This is in some ways a strength of the format, as it stems from the belief that people know themselves best. But in some testing scenarios, there is also the opportunity for people to bring in the insights of their colleagues or friends to give them information on how they are perceived by others as well as how they perceive themselves, which can improve accuracy and the applicability of the test results.

Personality data and your team

Once you have personality data about your team, you can use this to optimize and improve your team interactions. Some people erroneously believe that there is one personality type that is best suited to business, or that a team needs to be made up of similar personalities in order to be successful. But this is not the case: a team benefits from a variety of personality types interacting. You can benefit from having both outgoing, social and communicative extroverts as well as thoughtful, interior-focused and introverted members for different tasks. As a manager you can assign roles based on differing strengths, such as assigning your extroverts to client management or networking tasks and assigning detail-oriented conceptual work that needs to be performed by one person to the more introverted members of your team.

Finally, consider the value of understanding not just personality types in isolation, but also knowing how these types will interact with other personality types. With detailed personality profiles like the Insight, you’ll see information on the opposite types of a given personality as well as advice on how that personality will interact with managers and with other colleagues. Being able to predict how your team members will interact with others will allow you to assign duties in a way that maximizes your team’s chances of success.

Find out more about psychometric testing and how personality data can help you to build a stronger team at Discover Yourself:

Color Personalities and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter

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David Keirsey created the Keirsey Temperament Sorter as another way of categorizing how people think and behave in their personal and professional lives. His test is similar to Myers-Briggs and other personality assessments and has a similar basis to all of these tests and character indicators. The Keirsey Temperament Sorter is founded in the theories of Hippocrates and Plato, utilizing Plato’s four major personality types including Artisan/Iconic, Guardian/Pistic, Idealist/Noetic, and Rational/Dianoetic.

David Keirsey then subdivided these four character traits into two categories that each contained two types. This gives us a familiar chart with 16 potential character types, much like Myers-Briggs. This temperament sorter was made popular by the book, Please Understand Me, and has been used by many large companies to help with employee training.

Exploring temperament

Like many of the other personality assessments available today, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter has four major character types with subdivisions within each. The four categories have been called Artisans, Guardians, Idealists, and Rationals.  Artisans are known for having strong tactical skills while maintaining an adaptable view of people and situations around them. Guardians are concrete and organized, working well in an environment where they feel safe and secure. They excel at logistical tasks and supporting a larger project.

Idealists work in the abstract, finding meaning in their work and striving to maintain a sense of self. They are very diplomatic and can be valuable members of a professional social environment. Finally, Rationals are very much concerned with their grasp of a task and the knowledge it takes to get a job done well. They are excellent at theoretical projects that have to be turned into reality.

Comparing systems

Keirsey relied on the idea that people can be categorized into temperaments. He classified these temperaments as abstract or concrete thinkers; directive versus informative leadership styles; expressive versus attentive social skills; and cooperative versus pragmatic working methods. All of these categories aren’t replicated in Jungian thinking or the Myers-Briggs test.

One challenge with the Keirsey Temperament Sorter are the labels used to classify different character types. The categories and sub-variants of each type have been given a job description such as Manager or Conservator. While these distinctions can certainly be helpful, they don’t give any indication that people can be slightly outside any of these boxes or excel at other professional tasks.

Jung opened up an entirely new world with his discoveries, and discoveries into the psychology of personality and the self are still being made today. Insights Discovery is based squarely on Jung’s theories, and as such is an invaluable tool in helping people understand themselves and others.  If you would like further help in identifying yourself or others as part of the four color personalities, schedule me, Scott Schwefel, as your keynote speaker. I will come to your group and address the differences in personalities in a truthful, fun, and easy-to-understand way. Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to share my blogs with the color energies you work with!

Psychological Theories: Myers-Briggs and Insights Discovery


There are many articles and websites that will compare and contrast various psychological theories, pitting them against one another in an attempt to find the one great, overarching theory of psychology. As the field of analytical psychology has advanced there have always been theories that have been left behind or discounted based on new evidence; in the same vein, there have been theories that have been taken apart and put back together in light of new ideas and facts that have been discovered.

Psychological theories of personality, or why people behave the way they do, have been around since the time of the ancient Greeks. These thinkers spent their time discussing the actions of the people around them, testing these behaviors against what they were able to discern about the human mind. The fields of philosophy and psychology were certainly grown during these discussions amongst the ancient Greeks.

Modern day psychology

Moving closer to the present day, many psychological breakthroughs about personality and human behavior have been made. From Freud to Jung and many in between, psychologists and scientists have taken what we know about the human brain and done their best to match it to what we know about the human mind and reasoning. Through this tests like the Myers-Briggs and psychological theories like Insights Discovery have been created.

Myers-Briggs built a psychological personality test based on Jung’s psychological types, which he created in 1921. First-year psychology students in universities around America will be well versed in the Myers-Briggs tests, as will employees of major companies seeking to build teamwork and workplace efficiency. The Myers-Briggs test is commonly used to help individuals pick jobs or careers that fit their personality type. The Myers-Briggs gives each individual a four-letter designation that emphasizes the most dominant parts of their personality.

Other theories, like DISC or Insights Discovery, were created with the same Jungian background but different psychological motivations behind them. Insights Discovery was created to break people out of a four-letter designation, which can be difficult to remember, and to give a personality description based on colors rather than words. People might feel like they are being stuck into a personality box when they are given single words to describe the dominant parts of their personality.

Simplifying characteristics

Of course, any theory that tries to boil human character down to its simplest forms will run into problems. Take any five people on the street, any five people in your family or any five people in your office and you will find out pretty quickly that none of them fit into any sort of box, psychological or otherwise! Humans are complicated, but in many ways our personalities and behaviors are predictable. Insights Discover allows people to learn their main characteristics without placing them into rigid personality structures.

Using colors not only gives people the ability to remember their personality type easier but gives people the ability to be a shade of any color in the rainbow!

Jung opened up an entirely new world with his discoveries, and discoveries into the psychology of personality and the self are still being made today. Insights Discovery is based squarely on Jung’s theories, and as such is an invaluable tool in helping people understand themselves and others.  If you would like further help in identifying yourself or others as part of the four color personalities, schedule me, Scott Schwefel, as your keynote speaker. I will come to your group and address the differences in personalities in a truthful, fun, and easy-to-understand way. Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to share my blogs with the color energies you work with!