In my last post, I discussed how the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is often greatly misused. Laypersons and experts misunderstand its purpose; that the MBTI is only to be utilized to learn:
In short, it is a tool for communication and self-awareness. Nothing more. However, the lack of oversight among those who distribute and/or employ MBTI and other assessments has caused serious problems, particularly in the business world.
Is the “Problem” Really the Employee?
In one of my previous posts about HBOMax’s documentary, Persona, I mentioned a young man: Kyle Behm. Kyle was turned down for a job at Kroger after taking the company’s personality “test.” His results suggested he would ignore customers if they were upset or if he was upset with them.
This is a sad but regular occurrence, where people are routinely turned down for jobs because managers fail to do their job. I routinely tell my clients who are leaders that their job is not to “do” anything. They don’t build the widgets. They don’t provide the customers with service. Leaders are responsible for removing obstacles for their employees by identifying issues and addressing them. The employees are the ones who “do” the work.
This is why you usually earn more money as a manager… It’s no fun to deal with other people’s problems all day long, is it?
But, because of this reality of “running a business,” many leaders find themselves looking for a silver bullet. A solution that will help them minimize the problems they battle on a daily basis. Too many have landed on personality “tests” to find the “perfect employee;” one who–at the very least–will not create any more problems.
There are two enormous concerns about this mindset.
Concern #1: Confusing Assessment with “Test”
The first concern is simple but very important: The MBTI and other personality assessments are not tests! The MBTI does not test how “good” you are as an introvert. It is not evaluating how well you think logically. The only thing it does is reveal preferences. It says nothing about skills, ability, or intelligence.
Yet, throughout Persona (and within much of the business world), the MBTI and other psychometric tools are referred to as “tests.” This demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the field and what these tools are to be used for, specifically in business.
Lydia Brown, a disability rights activist featured in Persona, claims that personality “tests” like the MBTI, “are constructed to be ableist, racist, sexist and classist.” Used poorly, they can be. When implemented properly, these tools deserve none of those labels.
For instance, the MBTI was initially developed using mostly white male students, so it was incomplete as a tool. But, that was over 60 years ago. The current assessments are based on large representative samples of people spanning the globe.
The MBTI, and tools like it, are excellent for building a team or community based on common terms and language that are consistent and affirmative. It can be used to overcome cultural boundaries that often arise from differences between class, race, age, or other variants. Used properly in that context, the MBTI helps create positive self-awareness of a person’s place within a team and in their own mind.
Psychometric tools can open doors. But remember, it is in no way a “test” to evaluate how well someone does anything. Rather, their purpose is to provide common terminology so groups of people can communicate more efficiently and effectively with each other–with the goal of improving the productivity and coachability of the team.
Concern #2: Confusing “Good” Employees as “Bad”
This leads me to the second major concern: Good employees bring you problems just as often as they prevent them from reaching your desk.
What do I mean by that?
Often, it is the good employee who identifies a policy, procedure, or process that is not working well. They are the ones who pick up on a bad customer service issue. They may envision a possible innovation that creates value.
All of those things will cost money and take time for the team’s leader(s) to address. But, they are well worth the headache. A poor-performing employee will not do any of those things, and while the silence might seem like smooth sailing, it is anything but.
Any good leader understands that a good employee is self-motivated, dedicated to the company mission, and reliable. That means you will regularly see them at your door, bringing attention to trouble spots and generating new ideas. You want those obstacles on your plate!
Using MBTI to Take Leadership to a Whole New Level
As you know by now (at least I hope you do after reading my previous posts!), the MBTI cannot measure any of the characteristics that define a good employee. But, dear reader, YOU can evaluate and measure these things! This is where a good consulting company can help you take your leadership to a whole new level.
EII Consulting uses tools like the MBTI to create a foundation of common terminology and self-awareness to build upon. Then, we help you develop the mental resilience to stick with this program and the accountability process in order to measure which employees are getting the results you want. Once you have done that, we can help you develop the tools to reward the work horses and drive the free riders to step up or step out.
I can’t reiterate it enough… There is no magical “test” to figure any of this out before you hire a person. You must put in the effort to coach, train, and assess your employees or they will never meet your expectations. You cannot test for that–and no amount of testing or technology will change that.
Remember, you can’t “buy” a team… You have to build it!
Get access to each of the blogs on this topic HERE.
By Ryan Sanders, Founder of EII