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3 smart ways to use personality tests in team building

3 smart ways to use personality tests in team building

Team-based personality assessments

The application of personality questionnaires in team building has a long and rich history, mainly developed by Meredith Belbin in the 1960s-1980s. Belbin introduced the Belbin Team Role Inventory which formalized the use of personality questionnaires in team building, providing a valuable starting point for further research.

Team discussion

Team-based personality assessments focus on two main goals:

Minimize conflict within the team and ensure smooth functioning of individuals Maximize team performance by placing people in teams appropriately.

By identifying each team member’s individual team role, managers can assign individuals with complementary interpersonal styles, helping to minimize conflict and maximize productivity.

Belbin stated that there are nine major team role archities, each of which expresses a unique interpersonal style when working within a team, including:

Plant: Creative and unorthodox thinkers who find innovative solutions to complex problems. Resource researcher: Enthusiastic networkers who focus on the outside world. Coordinator: Great thinkers who are likely to play a leading role in managing the team. Shaper: Diligent and task-oriented individuals who strive for success. Monitor Evaluator: Logical and objective observers who solve problems analytically. Team worker: Cooperative and diplomatic listeners who help manage conflict. Performer: Disciplined and loyal individuals who can always be trusted. More complete finisher: Perfectionists with a strong eye for detail. Specialist: Experts in specific areas who provide uniquely valuable insights.

Type vs Traits

However, unlike TYPE-based personality questionnaires such as the MBTI, the Team Roles Inventory is a TRAIT-based assessment and therefore does not consider these roles to be mutually exclusive personality types. For example, individuals can score highly in various roles, such as Plant AND Specialist, demonstrating a more nuanced approach to their teamwork. This is because the team role inventory assessment measures underlying behavioral traits that exist on a continuum, much like the Big Five model of personality.

As a result, any valid and reliable personality questionnaire is able to measure the key underlying behaviors that determine a person’s team role.

In this article, I will outline three highly effective approaches to implementing personality questionnaires in team building. These approaches can be taken using almost any psychometrically robust personality assessment, not just those explicitly designed for team building purposes.

Team building for skills development

Approach 1: Find a range of conflict resolution styles

Research clearly suggests that a person’s conflict resolution strategy closely matches their personality. For example, here is a list of personality traits and the associated conflict resolution styles that those traits prefer.

Agreeableness: Pleasant people tend to either find creative solutions to conflicts that appeal to everyone or avoid conflicts all together. They also show a lower preference for domination and will not try to overwhelm others during a conflict. Conscientiousness: Conscientious people also tend to prefer finding mutually beneficial solutions, but show a preference against avoidance, preferring to deal directly with conflict. Extraversion: Extroverts prefer a dominant approach to conflict, trying to exert their influence and resolve conflict through sheer will. They will be least likely to adopt an avoidant strategy, rarely avoiding conflict. Openness to experience: Those who are open to experience will be most likely to take an integrated approach to conflict resolution, especially finding innovative solutions to problems. They are also less likely to show an avoidance strategy, instead seeing conflict as a puzzle to be solved. Neuroticism: Those who are particularly neurotic will mainly focus on avoidant strategies, avoiding conflict as much as possible. It is very unlikely that they will display a dominant strategy and find that form of conflict resolution stressful.

Rock Paper Scissors

Like rock-paper-scissors, each conflict style can be defeated by another, helping to resolve conflict quickly.

For example, a dominant strategy quickly overrides an avoidant strategy, quickly resolving a conflict. An avoidant strategy combined with an integrated strategy also quickly resolves conflicts as consensus is reached quickly. However, an entire team of dominators is likely to result in a long, prolonged conflict, as team members will simply try to overwhelm each other forever. Likewise, an entire team of dodgers will simply ruminate on their grievances, creating an underlying culture of resentment and bitterness.

It is clear that building a team with a wide range of conflict management styles is the best approach, to ensure that different strategies can be applied when needed, and to avoid a conflict deadlock that occurs when every team member shares the same style. of conflict resolution.

By measuring the personality traits of the constituent team members, you can ensure that teams are not over-represented by a specific personality trait, maximizing the likelihood of the team using a wider variety of conflict management strategies.

Quick team building activity

Approach 2: Match team roles with the organizational culture

An organizational culture is a powerful thing, and outsiders in that culture can feel very uncomfortable for new hires. Research indicates that organizational culture misfits are a major driver of employee turnover, resulting in huge costs for organizations around the world.

The four architypes

Although organizational cultures are complex, they can be broadly classified into one of four archtypes:

Clan: Clan-based cultures are close-knit and family-like, with an emphasis on shared values ​​and organizational citizenship. Hierarchy: Hierarchy-based cultures focus on authority, productivity, processes, and systems, using a top-down approach. Adhocracy: Adhocracy is flexible and responsive, emphasizing creativity and personal freedom. Market: Market-oriented cultures are externally focused, with more emphasis on customers and stakeholders than on internal employees.

Likewise, team roles can be classified into one of two thinking styles, namely Adaptive or Innovative. Research suggests that adaptive thinkers, who focus on reliability, efficiency, and discipline, are likely to prefer clans or hierarchy-based cultures, and are more likely to show a greater degree of person-team fit. Similarly, people with innovative thinking styles, who are focused on creativity and unorthodox approaches to problem solving, tend to prefer adhocracy or market-oriented cultures.

By prioritizing broad thinking styles during the recruitment process, you ensure that the composition of forward-thinking teams aligns well with the organization itself. This approach is much safer than hiring based on explicit team role, as a wide range of roles is desirable for optimal team composition.

For example, in organizations that are hierarchical or clan-oriented, the search for conscientious employees is likely to emphasize culture fit, and thus subsequent team fit. In organizations that are adhocracy- or market-oriented, looking for employees who are open to new experiences is likely to lead them to follow the company ethic of flexibility and creativity.

Teambuilding to promote collaboration and bonding

Approach 3: Avoid organizational cloning and protect behavioral diversity

One of the most common criticisms of commercial personality questionnaires is the threat of organizational cloning, ie building an organization with nearly identical personalities. This would, of course, stifle innovation and, as we mentioned earlier, exacerbate conflict within teams. In fact, research suggests that teams with a wider range of team roles tend to outperform less behaviorally diverse teams.

To avoid organizational cloning and ensure good behavioral diversity, a wide range of different personality types must be integrated into the organization and by extension into teams. This is achieved by using personality questionnaires throughout the employee’s life cycle, from initial hire to ongoing development. With this data, HR teams can ensure that a wide variety of team roles are represented organization-wide, rather than just a small subset.

Aside from testing cognitive skills, when using personality questionnaires as part of hiring processes, careful attention should be paid to the specific traits that will make up a final score.

For example, if you decide that being ‘pleasant’ is not that relevant to job performance or culture adjustment, then this should not form the basis for a selection decision. What this does is that each subsequent team will necessarily contain people who score high, low and everything in between on agreeableness – thus supporting behavioral diversity. However, if kindness is considered essential to performance and role fit, organizations must decide whether the trade-off is worth it and whether the loss of behavioral diversity outweighs the benefits to candidate quality or role fit.

Team building day


To maximize the effectiveness of a personality-based team building intervention, you need to be both general and specific. While you want a wide variety of different team roles and/or personality types on your team, you also want them all to have something in common, and that should ideally suit the culture in general. But culture-fit aside, variety in hiring and creating teams is really the spice of life, and the greater the behavioral diversity, the better the performance and the lower the incidence of harmful conflict.

In short, organizations should embrace the differences between individuals and strive to create teams of unique individuals, rather than mere copies of each other.

This post 3 smart ways to use personality tests in team building was original published at “https://www.noobpreneur.com/2022/03/13/3-smart-ways-to-use-personality-testing-in-team-building/”


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