Character Typing, is it Important?
No one really wants to be put in a box. It’s easy to get defensive if someone were to classify you, real or not. So it makes bit a sense to me that using some form of character typing such as a Myers Breggs test is not often meet with lots of enthusiasm. Many individuals I have spoken with about character typing have found that the process does not seem to add much to their work. To me it seems that two factors can explain much of that sentiment. First, the tests often force the individual to make generalized statements that don’t really apply across all settings. It’s rare to hear a statement about yourself and you bounce forth with pride, “That’s me exactly”. Like all interesting questions, the answer depends on the circumstances. The second factor is that often the result of these tests are spoken of very little if at all after the factor. It’s real to see them work their way into the work place culture. While this is by no means an inclusive list of why people don’t like character typing, I think it covers a lot. Understand why people do not like the process helps define how to make it better for them. These test are simple and if employed well can be great tools for framing discussions on teamwork and conflict.
These assessments shine when building and thinking about teams. Teams can be more productive and effective then the same number of individuals working alone. A good example of the sum being greater then the whole of the parts. Yet, teams require more work to maintain and develop relative to individual projects. When we have the option to build teams or even as we start to work with a new team, taking the time to introduce the individuals character type with a structured method is a great way of pointed the ship in the right direction.
I’ve engaged in organization that have used character typing in various forms and the one that has really stood out to me for the office work environment is the Clifton Strength Finder. What’s interesting about it is that it focuses on identifying what your good. When building teams that’s probably the most important thing to know. Identifying your strengths and being able to speak to them will help you find your role in the group and ensure that the tasks are being address efficiently.
As I mentioned above just completing the test and reading over the results takes maybe an hour or two. It is also something you do alone so how does this information get to others. In an effort engage with the material myself and make it accessible to other I created a diagram of my results. I wanted it to be informative and visually appealing. It resides in my work places as a reminder to myself and as a tool for starting a conversation with my co workers about understand what we can all bring to the table.