As featured in The National on 24th September 2017.
Journalist: Suzanne Locke
Personality profiling helps people work and live “in harmony”, says the founder of a Dubai coaching company.
Corrina Cross, the lead facilitator at training and development business The People People, says it was personality profiling that took her from running a marketing business into the learning and development field almost a decade ago.
She attended a workshop to discover her own “DISC” profile – a green/ red/ blue/ yellow wheel examining levels of dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness – and was “so blown away” that she retrained in learning and development.
She now uses DISC with clients’ employees to “unveil their natural talents” and show them which team role they are most suited to, how to work on their strengths and become more productive.
“Everybody needs to know this stuff,” Ms Cross says. “These tools can help any group of people working together to live in more harmony. Too many people are working with people they do not get along with, which causes all sorts of stress.
“I personally believe every company should conduct such assessments for all employees – ideally in a group workshop, so they can see clearly how others interact. Companies who make it a culture for all staff to understand their own personality type, and that of others, develop teams who work better together, are more understanding of each other and are generally more productive.”
She even believes teachers should learn DISC to understand their pupils and that couples should be assessed before they marry.
Psychometric tools can be broadly divided into four areas, says Tara Cherniawski, who runs the Dubai-based training company Inspirus. They measure: personality (an individual’s style or manner of doing things); reasoning and aptitude; motivation and values; or preferences.
Various tools such as Hogan and TalentQ measure personality, aptitude and values, she says. DISC falls into the preferences segment, which helps people to gain insights into their preferences and “the way they orientate themselves in the world”, says Ms Cherniawski. Preferences are measured but not tested, she stresses, as they do not predict how likely you are to be effective.
She uses the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, another preference tool, which separates people into 16 personality types using four scales – extraversion or introversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling and judging or perceiving. You could be an ESTJ – a logical, assertive and active organiser – or an INFP – a compassionate, inquisitive idealist, for instance.
Profiling is popular with organisations in the region, says Ms Cherniawski, and creates “self-awareness”. It can help employees work out what matters to them in life and align it to their career choices, what their triggers and stress indicators might be – and even what working environment is important to them.
The advertising agency Omnicom uses a customised personality assessment tool in its career portal – applicants must complete it before they can even submit a CV, says Fadi Chamat, the regional executive director of the People team.
The 16 resulting personality types are based on Myers-Briggs but labelled differently; mentor, executive or scientist, for example, he says.
Throughout the hiring process, Mr Chamat adds, recruiters are looking for values “ahead of any other competency”; Omnicom believes it can train for skills and technical competencies but must “hire for attitude”.
Profiling is mainly used during the hiring process, he adds, benchmarking prospective staff against top performers in the business and even helping to “diversify the mix” within departments or disciplines.
The management consultant Keith Usher, who runs Insight Learning Organisation (ILO) in Dubai, says he does not tend to use personality profiles because of their “general unreliability and invalidity when tested empirically”.
“They can be useful as indicators of behaviour, rather like the cover of a book providing some insights to the story it contains inside,” he says, “but then it depends in whose hands the tool is placed.”
He warns that such personal knowledge can be used to “manipulate” people if the profiler is not “highly experienced”. “Wellbeing at work, in my opinion, has nothing to do with personality profiling and everything to do with the respect and treatment of others,” he adds.
“Managers and coaches who set clear goals for themselves and others, who create a work environment that motivates, recognises and rewards best practice behaviours, who develop peoples’ capabilities … these are the leaders who create well being without the need to use personality testing.”
Ms Cherniawski and Ms Cross, too, warn that psychometric tools work best when used responsibly and regularly. Ms Cross says there needs to be an interactive session to help the employee “fully understand” their own profile and how to work better with team mates who may be quite different.
“I’ve worked in organisations where people have never even received their profile,” adds Ms Cherniawski. “It’s not about an organisation looking at the report and analysing it but the validation with the individual – how they can take and use it.
“If debriefed effectively and collaboratively, there is much less risk that report is going in a dusty drawer, because someone has a greater awareness of how it will help them in their career progression.”
Ms Cross says,“If people understand and appreciate each other. It leads to team members who are more open-minded, who understand and work to their strengths and who understand and appreciate the co-workers’ differences.”
After all, she says, there is “no right or wrong. There is only different”.