If you’ve ever worked in an organization, chances are you went through a personality assessment to ensure you were on the right team and knew how to interact with your colleagues in a professional manner for their personality type. When I took my first one, I remember it being insightful – and impressively on target for who I was then.

Despite some of this awareness raising, the use of these tests can often be misguided if not detrimental to a team’s performance. Pigeon holing a team member for being a reclusive and delayed decision making “blue” or hot headed “red” rather than an affable, outgoing “yellow” or “green” can grossly underestimate people’s ability and interest to rise to the occasion when the needs of the team warrant them to behave out of character.

In reality, it becomes an expectation and an excuse. And more often allows for the worst in how we treat each other in the workplace to shine through.

Studies indicate that many people respond to the questions on the test based on their interpretation of the role they are being hired to fill. Despite an ability to read through some of the “gaming”, at any given point in time, people will respond differently based on what their last organization required of them, and what they deem to be best practice behavior. In some work places, certain behaviors are reinforced where in a different setting it would be reason for termination.

Our advice? Instead of shelling out thousands of dollars to test people and mark them accordingly, work on your teaming skills and leadership capabilities to bring out the best in each of your team members. Ensure that you have the emotional intelligence to understand the difference between when someone is having a bad day and when they need some redirection. Have the courage to allow your team members to work things out on their own. Give them the rules of the game but allow them to chart the path to the finish line.

Bottom line – Personality tests are the easy way out instead of truly investing in the management of your team.

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