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Don’t Be Afraid, It Will Only Hurt for a Minute: How to Use Personality Assessments in Your Law Practice

Published on Apr 18, 2023
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As you may have read, our team believes in the power of the right words. When you think of a test, you tend to think of a pass/fail situation with sweaty hands and off-the-chart anxiety. When phrased to your team instead as an ‘assessment’, you can ease the tension by explaining you are gathering information. When used correctly, personality assessments can increase the likelihood of hiring the right fit candidate from our fiercely competitive market, assist in coaching team members in the way they best respond, and establish better communication with your team by understanding behavioral, emotional, and cognitive patterns. There is an investment of time and money when conducting assessments for pre-employment, but I truly believe the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Some who know me might describe me as dominant, forceful, stubborn, and even aggressive. You may be thinking, “If that is an accurate description, I feel sorry for Vista’s fearless leader, Tim McKey.” I’m here to assure you I am all those things (I even have ample documentation to prove it), and to encourage you not to be afraid of powerful team members, especially women! Well-organized, goal-oriented leaders can help you take your firm to the next level. The assessments I have taken provided insights into my own strengths and weaknesses, allowing me to grow and mature both personally and professionally.

Over the years, I have also taken DiSC, 16Personalities, Culture Index, Simmons Personal Survey, and my favorite, Enneagram. Others we have seen work well in our industry are Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®), Caliper, Kolbe, Predictive Index, and Color Code. Each has its own strengths and limitations. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the most commonly used personality assessments in our industry.

DiSC

I was first introduced to personality assessments over 20 years ago when my employer wanted our front office team to learn how to communicate and work more effectively with each other. That assessment happened to be the DiSC personality assessment. Several weeks after completing the assessment, our team met with a DiSC facilitator. The organizer of the event started our meeting by explaining how the DiSC profile measures an individual’s behavioral style in four areas:

  1. Dominance
  2. Influence
  3. Steadiness
  4. Conscientiousness

The facilitator went on to ask who thinks they are a D, who thinks they are an I, and so forth. After not raising my hand for any of the letters, when asked, I simply explained I felt like I could relate to all the letters. The facilitator chuckled and said that was a great observation because I scored the same across the board and lovingly labeled me a rainbow of fruit colors. I was in my early 20s at the time and not so sure if this was a good or bad trait. After seeing the confusion on my face, the facilitator assured me this was a good thing, showing I could relate well, change when needed, and envisioned I would be a great leader one day. Those words of encouragement stuck!

Over two years ago, I had an opportunity to retake the DiSC assessment with the Vista Consulting Team. This was an eye-opening experience! I am classified in a Creative Pattern, with a high score in D (Dominance) and C (Conscientiousness). I learned some possible careers for a DC are Lawyer, Operations Manager, and Project Manager (turns out I’m in the right field)! I also learned the rarest DiSC type is D with only 9% of the worldwide assessed population characterized as a Dominant personality with S (Steadiness) being the most common.

Culture Index

The Culture Index assessment is unique in that it measures seven core personality traits that are believed to be key indicators of success in the workplace:

  • Logic
  • Energy
  • Assertiveness
  • Decisiveness
  • Empathy
  • Independence
  • Teachability

These traits are then used to create a profile of the individual that can be compared to the profiles of successful employees within the organization. This comparison helps the leaders and managers to more accurately gauge a team member’s potential for success in various roles. Additionally, the assessment holds great value in helping managers to better understand the personality dynamics of their teams and how those dynamics might impact productivity.

Simmons Personal Survey

The Simmons Personal Survey report combines several like areas of character into four main categories to provide more concise information. It measures character rather than personality, stating that can better predict a person’s behaviors well in advance of starting work with your firm. The accuracy of this report is improved when the firm provides great detail as to the role you are hiring for (which is the opposite of what most assessments measure). Personality is the condition or fact of relating to a particular person, so it changes depending upon circumstances. This assessment views how the person appears to be but allows a look behind the personality to view the character. Character is defined as one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual (how a person behaves when no one is watching).

The Simmons Survey looks at factors such as aptitude, ambition, assertiveness, interpersonal relationships, tolerance, flexibility, and resiliency. The insights this assessment test provides into the strengths and weaknesses of your team can be used to help make them more productive, efficient, and successful. It can also provide information about potential issues between team members that could affect their performance.

Enneagram

Now, onto my favorite of all personality tests! The Enneagram is a personality system that consists of nine interconnected personality types, each with its own motivations, fears, and behavioral patterns. It is commonly used as a tool for self-discovery, personal growth, and interpersonal communication. Some might think the Enneagram is too touchy-feely, but I believe it gives a deeper and more holistic view of an individual.

The nine Enneagram types are:

  1. The Perfectionist/Reformer
  2. The Helper
  3. The Achiever
  4. The Individualist/Romantic
  5. The Investigator/Observer
  6. The Loyalist
  7. The Enthusiast
  8. The Challenger
  9. The Peacemaker

Recently I worked with a coach to determine my Enneagram number and discovered how to better align with my beliefs and avoid conflict. I highly recommend taking the time to learn about your own type and how it influences the way you think, feel, and act. Knowing more about yourself can help you better understand others’ motivations and enhance team collaboration.

How to use personality tests the right way

If you decide to try out a personality assessment for your team, I highly recommend that you hire a professional to administer, explain, and possibly even work with the team regarding their results, especially leaders in the firm. This ensures that all results are correctly interpreted and that the resulting growth and awareness personality tests can provide can start quicker and at a deeper level.

It’s unwise to have your team take a personality test and not share the results with them. Instead, get them onboard by providing information about the test they’ll be taking, explaining why they’re taking it, and tying everything back to your culture, team mentality, and hunger for growth, both for the firm and for individual team members. Get them excited about it, not skeptical about why you’re doing it or what repercussions may come of their results. The more relaxed they are when they take the test, the better and more accurate the results will be.

It’s critical to note that while personality assessments can be valuable tools, they should not be used as the sole basis for critical business decisions, such as hiring, firing, or promotion determination. As such, it is essential to use them in a responsible and thoughtful manner. They should be used in conjunction with other factors, such as job performance, experience, and qualifications. Simply put, they are a powerful tool in the tool belt of life and business that helps individuals gain knowledge about themselves as well as insight into others in their life.

It’s also important to acknowledge and embrace the fact that character is developed as we go through life experiences. People can change their behavior and learn from mistakes, so character and personality assessments should not be seen as static or unchanging over time. Character development is ongoing — something that can be encouraged, nurtured, and learned from. As a business leader, it is important to use personality assessments wisely and as part of an overall plan for personal growth. Ultimately, any assessment you pick should be used to help individuals engage in meaningful self-reflection and understand themselves better so that they can make informed decisions about their own professional and personal paths.

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