A Better Way to Assess Employee Personalities

Here is an article by David Gee for Human Capitalist, a new blog covering the (busy) intersection of people and technology in the 21st-century workplace. Founded originally by Jason Corsello and sponsored by Cornerstone OnDemand, Human Capitalist features the insights of expert authors and influencers within talent management, recruiting, human resources, learning and development, enterprise cloud computing, and related disciplines that are shaping the future of work.

To read the complete article, check out other resources, please click here.

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The use of workplace personality assessments has become essential to organizations trying to put the right people in the right positions, and to create highly functional teams. These tools give human resources professionals an easy, efficient filing system in their minds that allow them to make decisions faster and retain employees longer. But these assessments have a major drawback too: they produce one-dimensional labels and generalized descriptions that don’t really capture the whole person.

What if hiring managers and HR pros could instead gain insights into less-tangible employee traits, such as the factors that motivate some workers to succeed — and others to fail? They can. It’s called the Birkman Method, a 300-question personality assessment used by 5,000 companies to facilitate team building executive coaching leadership development, career counseling, and interpersonal conflict resolution.

It differs from other popular personality assessment tools – Myers-Briggs Type Indicator; Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness (DISC); and the Caliper Profile, to name a few — because it doesn’t just try to describe or categorize people. The Birkman Method instead uses empirical research to measure typical behavior styles, underlying needs and expectations, stress behaviors, and occupational interests.

Here’s how Sharon Birkman Fink, CEO of Birkman International, described the Birkman Method’s competitive edge to me recently: “The takeaway is that we are very complex human beings, so please don’t slap a label or two on me because that will cause you to miss a lot.”

Identifying What Every Employee Needs

Studies have shown that, over time, most people self-select into jobs that allow them to use their preferred ways of dealing with the world more often.

Birkman Fink, the co-author of the just-released THE BIRKMAN METHOD: Your Personality at Work, says the goal of the Birkman Method is to provide a critical workplace assessment that goes beyond behavior and offers insight into why certain things will satisfy – or stress – people. Identifying individuals’ underlying needs and expectations is what sets the Birkman Method apart, says Birkman Fink, the daughter of company founder Dr. Roger Birkman, a former B-17 pilot who began exploring differences in behaviors and perception while helping the U.S. Air Force select pilots in the late 1940s.

Here’s an example that Roger Birkman liked to use: landscapers can tell if one plant is a cactus and the other is a ficus. But what they don’t always know is how to ensure that each plant thrives. So when a gardener explains that the cactus loves arid soil and can do well with minimal watering, but the ficus requires regular watering, then people know what each plant needs to stay healthy over time.

The same is true for the ongoing care and feeding of people — and the ability to address the specific needs of each individual. The Birkman Method “looks at the potential of each individual in relationship to others, both as person-to-person and as person-to-team,” says Birkman Fink.

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To read the complete article and check out others, please click here.

David is the founder of 3 Second Selling, a training, speaking and consulting platform. He was also a member of the mainstream media for 18 years, working as a TV news reporter and anchor, and business magazine editor. He is a recognized thought leader on HR, staffing and recruiting trends and best practices, and writes and speaks often about workplace issues. – See more here.

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