Workplace Personality Test

Everyone loves a dedicated ensemble of individuals that come together to accomplish great things. Need convincing? Consider the dynamics of any great film or TV show. The memorable ones present a minimum of four characters who approach life from all different perspectives.

The same goes for employers and managers. Building a team is one of most crucial competencies a leader can develop. Knowing how to call on the right person at the right time is an art and a science. Besides, belonging to a team, and knowing that you are contributing, is a cornerstone of employee well-being.

To make these decisions you need to have the kind of information that comes from solid assessments. Few tools let you get started on building a team like a workplace personality test. When do you temper the take charge new hire to get proven results? When do you push the quiet kid to step up to the challenge?

Once you have assessment information like this, you still need to apply it. How? This guide will walk you through this line of thinking.

Workplace Personality Test Uses

The business world is chock full of adages and snippets of wisdom that come from years of distilled experience.

Among these, we know that a team is only as good as its weakest member, teams outperform individuals, and you can’t hope for results in that square peg and round hole situation.

Building a team isn’t just knowing what technical skills and educational credentials your team has but also what soft skills. This is where employee personality testing helps managers rise above mediocrity at best … and unfortunate failure.

Let’s look at three major ways to use a personality test at work.


The most obvious use of a personality test is to categorize employees by tendency. [By the way, I detest the word categorize. Stereotype too. That’s not the point of workplace personality testing. Use personality test to categorize and stereotype and you will fail! Personality tests inform and help everyone makes better decisions – think of them of “employee user manuals.”] They help identify who tends to work better in a meeting than one-on-one, who creates the most accurate reports quickly, who spends the least time schmoozing and more time working.

Remember that personality tests are indicative, not prescriptive. Always allow an employee to grow to fit new roles and to pick up new skills. You utilize the test to find the best avenue to proceed, not ways to say no or restrict.

When an employee feels safe, they can explore new challenges. Too much freedom and they may get comfortable, complacent and just stop trying. Overly strict goals and too much micromanaging, and you’ll see reactions from emotional shutdowns to meltdowns.

Personality tests give you a gauge on how likely any reward or punishment is to succeed with an individual too.

The Myers-Briggs test focuses on four key dichotomies.

  • introvert/extrovert
  • sensing/intuition
  • thinking/feeling
  • judging/perceiving

From this, it spits out a four-letter code of a person’s basic ways of going about a task.

These categorizations, you notice, go from interactions to information and then decisions to perceptions.

The other popular employee personality test is the DISC model. This also has a four-part breakdown.

  • dominance
  • influence
  • steadiness
  • conscientiousness

Rather than dichotomies, DISC focuses on quantifying which trait energizes the employee the most and least.

Another workplace personality test is called Business Values and Motivators. Based on the work of Eduard Spranger, it identifies six core values that drive human behavior.  (It’s the why behind DISC behavior.)  The six motivators are:

  • conceptual (learning)
  • aesthetics (harmony)
  • economics (money)
  • power & authority (individualism)
  • social (community)
  • doctrine (traditions)

The hooks used to interest and motivate these individuals becomes obvious from the groupings.


Now that you have gained some idea of who the employee is and how they likely react to motivation and coaching, you are ready to deploy them to the right roles on the right team.

No one size fits all. A common management style would place only the extroverts and dominant types in leadership roles and the thinking and steady folks into reporting roles.

This is naive logic, and not the best. All sorts of teams can work and no stack of traits is unfit for either role, it depends on the expected results and make up of other team members. Many of the greatest leaders in history are introverted or conscientious. They just lead from within instead of pulling from above.

Balancing a team has benefits but so does min-maxing to a specific task.

To thread the needle through these complicated issues, consider the task first and team second. Do you need the work done quickly? Do you need it done with a fine degree of detail?

Do you need both?

To get to any of these three goals you want to mold a different team.

Start by establishing the lead role, then the support. After these two key pieces are in place you add tasks doers and specialists.

Personality tests won’t give you a mathematical answer, they can’t, but they will give you a more structured way of applying people to roles with a justification that surpasses gut feeling.


The most useful component of a personality test for workplace application may be the feedback it provides. Knowing how to talk to an employee about their performance means everything – from coaching them to maximizing their full abilities.

Dealing with people in the micro-society that is the workplace suffers from the same problem of society as a whole. What works for some won’t work for others.

Knowing where your employees fall in a categorization scheme give you an approach to start with. This is not the only approach. As you get to know a person as an individual, you will find other ways to proceed.

Until then, starting from a safer position allows you to push harder over time and introduce challenges an employee may not be otherwise outright comfortable with. Expecting an introvert to report a problem is unlikely without understanding how to best approach them. Appreciating when to value the written memo vs allowing the opportunity to publicly pronounce concern is the difference between successful and under-performing managers.

In the end, it’s important to get the feedback you need and give it when needed. That’s only possible when you understand the best ways to approach each team member.

Combine with Other Tools

Personality informs you about a person but people are much more complicated than a personality test.

Combining tools and data from other sources gives you a more holistic view. Trend tracking provides this more complete picture.

Be warned, trend tracking can get forest for the trees. Don’t over-focus on one trait and assume it will hold everything else together.

Trust the data over the feelings. Move people around and discover more information whenever you can afford to do so.

Consider the information that goes into forming a personality test. Reverse engineer those questions and you will see not just how people fall into categories, but why.

Lessons in Success

The best way to use a workplace personality test is as a part of an overall management strategy. Like any information you gather, it has gaps you should fill in with your own training and experience.

When it comes to businesses experience, though, you can’t ever have enough information. That is why we offer a myriad of comprehensive assessments to empower you and your company’s interests.