The use of psychometrics tools to assess personality types and traits is of recent origin and less than 150 years old. Francis Galton, often referred to as “the father of psychometrics”, pioneered the use of questionnaires. While the first psychometrics instruments were used to measure the concept of intelligence subsequently, one of the major focus area in psychometrics has been on personality testing.
The objective of this research is to find out the effectiveness of such Personality Assessment Tools in the workplace and outside workplace, and its application in the coaching context i.e. how a coach can enhance the effective use of the Personality Assessment tools.
Part 1 – Research Summary
Research Methodology Summary
An online survey was created and a total of 40 responses were recorded.
The survey is divided into four parts. Part 1 – Awareness, Part 2 -Application and Use, Part 3- Factors Influencing Effectiveness and Part 4- Respondent details. Each of these is detailed later in this paper.
Research Findings Summary
Part 1 – Awareness: The awareness about the personality assessment tools was widespread i.e., 100% of respondents were aware of at least one personality assessment tool out of which 87.5% of respondents knew more than one tool. The use of assessment tool was again widespread. 39 out of the 40 respondent had been assessed at least on one of the tools. From the 8 tools listed in the survey, MBTI was the most popular tool with 31 respondents having been assessed on this tool. DISC and Gallop or Clifton Strengths Finder came at second place with 16 respondents and Tetramap stood third with 14 respondents having been assessed on the respective tool. Amongst these four tools, the Tetramap tool obtained a high score of 95% for practical relevance, and followed by the Gallop or Clifton Strengths Finder tool which obtained the second highest score of 75% for practical relevance.
Part 2 -Application and Use: This section had five statements and respondents who slightly agree or strongly agree with the statement are considered. For the statement
I feel my self-awareness has improved
35% of the respondents strongly agreed, and 58% slightly agreed. This indicates a mixed response to impact of the personality assessments on self awareness. To the statement
I felt that the profile results reflected my personality fairly well
28% of the respondents strongly agreed and 68% slightly agreed indicating a mixed response with regard to the reliability of the personality assessment tool result.
To the statement
I feel the tool helped me in dealing with interpersonal situations
8% people strongly agreed and 68% slightly agreed. To the statement “I have used the knowledge gained from the tools in my daily life at work”, 15% strongly agreed and 58% slightly agreed. To the statement
I have used the knowledge gained from the tools in my daily life at home and outside of work
5% strongly agreed and 48% slightly agreed. The above three responses indicate a low level of practical application of the knowledge gained from the tool. There was a strong preference for use of the knowledge at workplace as compared to strong disagreements for statements on using the knowledge in interpersonal situations and outside of work situations.
Part 3- Factors Influencing Effectiveness: This section had two statements “I found the following factors influenced in a positive manner in the effective use of tool” and “I found the following factors influenced in a negative manner in the effective use of tool”. More than 50% of the respondents felt that personal debriefing and ease of use of the tool would positively influence the effectiveness of the tool. Exactly 50% of the respondents felt that Lack of follow through hampered effective use of the tool.
Part 4 – Respondent details: The respondent profile was predominantly male (80%), from banking and financial services industry (68%) with a significant set of respondents holding senior management positions (60%). Only 13% of the respondents were self employed or had own business or were free lance consultants.
Part 2 – Relevance To Coaching
Application in Coaching
The survey summary findings provide key insights and opportunities to the fraternity of Coaches. These insights and opportunities are limited to the respondent profile surveyed.
The key insight here is that the administration of the personality assessment tool sans debriefing, follow through and guidance indicate low return on investment i.e. valuable resources spent (time and money) without obtaining the corresponding benefits in terms of knowledge being applied at work or home. It indicates the need for a structure that goes beyond mere administration of the personality test.
A coach or mentor is best placed to create this structure. The relevance to coaching can be found in three aspects of coaching (a) Awareness creation (b) strong action orientation combined with accountability (c) debriefing where the coach is certified to administer the tool.
The coach could partner with institutions who administer the test as a value added service. The coach could pitch directly to the corporate to market the support structure as a niche offering. The coach could as part of their existing engagement provide the follow through, action orientation and accountability and significantly enhance the value derived from the personality assessment tools. These are elaborated further as use cases.
Recommended Use cases for Coaching
Case 1 – Coach partners with the institution administering the personality tests and provides the support structure to the clients of the institution.
Case 2 – Coach pitches for specialized niche service of providing support structure for Corporates who are sponsors of personality tests for their employees.
Case 3 – As part of an existing client engagement:
(a)The client is ready and keen to derive benefits of personality assessment profile results. Coach can provide action planning and accountability structures. Coach can provide guidance and debriefing if certified/qualified.
(b) Client has specific issues and is ready to take a relevant personality assessment tool. Coach can recommend the relevant tool. Coach can provide action planning and accountability structures. Coach can provide guidance and debriefing if certified/qualified.
(c) Client has shared personality assessment results. Coach can use the result to validate the conclusion reached based on other inputs received during the coaching engagement. Coach can provide action planning and accountability structures. Coach can provide guidance and debriefing if certified/qualified.
In short, though there is a widespread use of personality assessment tool, there is a significant gap in terms of the utility of the tool in its impact. The coaching framework is a powerful framework that readily lends itself to improve the effectiveness of the use of the tool.
Part 3 – Research in Detail
A questionnaire was used as the sole instrument to gather the data. For this purpose, an online survey was created (see appendix for the questionnaire) and the link to the survey was sent out to more than 100 people via email. In addition, a few respondents were requested to fill up a paper copy of the online survey. These responses were manually added into the online tool. In total more than 125 persons were requested to participate in the survey during the period 27th Jun 2012 to 20th July 2012 and 40 responses were received. The survey respondents were selected from three main sources (a) LinkedIn network, (b) office network and (c) the ICA student network. On 20th July, the survey response was downloaded and data used in this paper.
The questionnaire had the following sections:
- Application And Use
- Factors Contributing to effectiveness
- Respondent Details
The awareness section listed 8 personality assessment tools and an others column. This section had questions on awareness, use, recall and utility of the personality types listed. Multiple selections were allowed when responding to the question. The second section “Application and Use” had statements on reliability, improvement in self awareness, usefulness, and application of personality test tools. Responses were collected on a graded scale of 0 to 5, where zero stood for Don’t Know/Can’t Say, 1 stood for Strong Disagreement and 5 stood for strong agreement. The respondent is allowed to choose only one value. The third section was on factors that contributed to effective use of the personality test tools. This section listed a few factors and an others column. Respondents could choose multiple factors when responding or add new factors not listed in the questionnaire. The first question was on factors that aided effectiveness and the second question was on factors that hindered the effectiveness. The final section was on the respondent detail. All questions were mandatory except the name and contact details.