Why take a personality assessment? Last week, a couple students asked me that in an interview. There are many good reasons to take a personality assessment including increased awareness about strengths and blind spots, career development, and understanding and validating oneself and others. They also wanted to know if there were any drawbacks to personality assessments. Well yes, descriptions can be too broad to be meaningful or too narrow to allow latitude for individual differences and development.They can become excuses for bad behavior. They can even be inaccurate!
I have been in the people business for a very long time. My first career working with brain injured individuals gave me the opportunity to experience the strengths and limitations of assessments. Those assessments gave me a reasonable appraisal of the patient’s current functioning and a probable direction to head the rehabilitation plan. However the assessments were only part of the picture, a probable lay of the land and a potential starting point. There was always an art as well as a science to the process of bringing out the best in these individuals. One needed to connect some dots.
Now as a coach, I use that same philosophy of art and science when understanding my clients and their needs. I have an array of assessments and I try to pick the best one to help my client. One tool I often use is the MBTI® Step III™, which can serve as a road map for personal development. Since 2009, I have done hundreds of these assessments and no two have been exactly alike. The assessment is both data rich and flexible, allowing for an excellent coaching conversation. The behind the curtain data is contained in the Professional Reference Guide, the PRG and it can be used to look up the validity results for any standard statement printed in your client’s MBTI® Step III™ Interpretive Report. Meanwhile, the Step III coaching conversation allows for a rich discussion around what may have triggered behavioral statements, based on the client’s response patterns.
I like flexibility when I work with clients and I know they appreciate getting an opportunity to think of themselves through several lenses, not just one. The instrument itself is of course, a psychological type instrument and so there is often a rich discussion around the developmental advantages and challenges of one’s type. And yet, the true value is the coaching conversation. Many clients describe this experience as enlightening and energizing.
However, back to the original question. Are there good reasons to take a personality assessment? Yes- provided that the results suit the client as well and they are set in the context of understanding the individual as a whole. Assessments merely gather information in a structured way. The coaching conversation brings flexibility and art to the results.