Personality assessments certainly aren’t new, but these days they’re hotter than ever! Previously used primarily to help people better understand themselves, their personal relationships, and their unique responses to specific situations, these assessments — or profiles — are taking on a new life, evolving into highly valued business tools for supervisors looking to maximize employee performance. According to The American Management Association, nearly 40 percent of companies surveyed incorporate these into their hiring/management process. And that number is still growing. 

Today, the odds are good that you’ll be asked to complete a personality assessment either when you apply to a new company or when changes are expected at your existing place of employment. Whether used to make hiring, promotion or succession-planning decisions, personality assessments can give managers a much clearer understanding of how to successfully hire, manage and motivate. And this is something that benefits you just as much as it benefits the boss!

So what’s the real goal of a manager who uses employee profiles? It’s to keep you happy, keep himself satisfied and, in the bigger picture, to reduce employee turnover! The price employers pay for losing an employee is astonishing; when a worker leaves a job, the average company also says goodbye to a dollar amount equal to that person’s full year salary. This comes in the form of replacement-employee expenditures, overtime to remaining staff, severed rapport with clients, lost business, etc. Factor in the stress of being short-staffed and the inevitable loss of team morale, and it’s pretty easy to understand why finding and retaining good, loyal employees is a top priority for most hiring managers. 

Good personality assessments delve deeply into an individual’s true self. Most have built-in mechanisms that flag pretenders, and applicants trying to protect themselves by being evasive, vague or indecisive about their inherent behavior are also usually unmasked. Personnel assessments can pinpoint, among other things, an individual’s potential strengths, weaknesses, communication style, sense of self, job suitability and workplace compatibility. 

When you complete a personality assessment, your unique work approach, expectations and traits become clear; it’s easier to see if a job is right for you – or not. Assessments are not tests; there are no right or wrong answers. The idea is to ensure that both you and your employer are well matched and apt to be happy in a long-term business relationship. 

Workplace incompatibility, unlike job incompatibility, cannot be eradicated by intense coaching or training. People either get along with their colleagues, mesh with their environment, or they don’t. 

The issue of employee retention is clearly on the minds of employers from virtually every sector of industry. Leaders from the worlds of finance, insurance, hospitality, education, sales, automotives and medicine are among those looking for proven ways to lower their turnover rates. Novant Health CEO, Paul Wiles, is one of those leaders. “Selection tools give us more resources to make better-informed hiring decisions. They not only provide insight into whether to hire, but also advise on the best way of helping candidates fit into our environment,” says Wiles. Though a worker’s alleged ineptitude might be an easy excuse for the termination of an employee it is often workplace incompatibility that is the real reason behind high job turnover rates.  

And now a word of caution.

Many personality assessments can more or less describe a person accurately because everyone has at least some measure of the discussed traits. For example, don’t most people think they’re “careful”? Is there really anyone out there seriously seeking employment in the business world who’s going to describe him/herself as “reckless”? A good profile, such as the Omnia Profile, should allow for degrees of traits. This is critical, as the degrees are what separate one person from another and are, at least typically, what drive resulting behaviors.

Keep in mind that sometimes an employer doesn’t really know what he or she is looking for. Some hiring managers want workers who are just like them. Others envision someone who can stay focused, be friendly, sell, lead, take direction, work quickly and slow down – all, of course, at the same time! Employers also often overlook the specifics of their work environment; they make the mistake of hiring a fast-paced multi-tasker to perform highly repetitive work — and then don’t understand why the person is unhappy and ready to quit.

Find out as much as you can about the job you apply for. Having specific information or a written job description in hand can help eliminate confusion, ambiguity, guesswork and mutual disappointment between an employee and an employer.

Assessments are part of a much bigger picture and are meant to be used as such. Resumes, interviews and references must also be considered when hiring decisions are made. And, of course, if a promotion is being planned or a line of succession being plotted, a worker’s past performance and input from former managers can help fine-tune an employee’s picture.

If you’re asked to take a personality profile before being hired, promoted or reviewed, don’t sweat it. Remember, these are for your protection as well as an employer’s. There’s probably not much worse than feeling trapped everyday and forced to put valuable time and energy into a job you absolutely hate!

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