By Simon Wilsher, the Wilsher Group
It started in Greece, about 2400 years ago, when Hippocrates introduced the concept that we are a combination of four core personality types: sanguine (pleasure-seeking and sociable), choleric (ambitious and leader-like), melancholic (analytical and quiet) and phlegmatic (relaxed and peaceful).By 1921 the founder of analytical psychology, Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung was taking this further in his book Psychologische Typen (Psychological Types) in which he outlined the four principal psychological functions by which we experience our environment: the perceiving functions of sensation and intuition, and the judging functions of feeling and thinking.
According to Jung, any one of these four functions is dominant in us most of the time. Jung further believed that the dominant function categorizes conscious behaviour, while its opposite is repressed and characterizes unconscious behaviour.
It was at this point that psychology started moving away from the tradition of being viewed as a branch of philosophy and was clearly becoming defined as a science.
From Hippocrates to Jung, Keirsey and Myers-Briggs in more modern times, psychological assessment tests have become mainstream and continue to grow in numbers and in application, today we have an extensive array of psychometric tests used particularly in the people management process.
Because of the costs of making a hiring decision which doesn’t work out as hoped and the difficulties in getting meaningful information from reference checks of prospective employees, many recruiters rely on some form of testing as part of their hiring process.
Up until recently cognitive ability tests (assessing the candidate’s potential to learn a specific body of knowledge) tended to be the most commonly used psychometric tests. Now behaviour profiling is starting to play an important part in the assessment process.
Behavioural tests differ markedly from cognitive tests in that they measure emotional, motivational, interpersonal and attitudinal characteristics rather than a candidate’s ‘ability’. For instance, a candidate’s CV may clearly demonstrate that they have the appropriate levels of education and the required job skills, but to understand their ability to effectively work in a given team requires a different means of assessment.
Incorporating behavioural testing into the corporate environment means learning to understand the different ways people operate, communicate, socialise, integrate and undertake goals. In an age where corporate strategies rely heavily on high performing teams this is vital information.
Once properly understood, using behavioural approaches opens up a raft of opportunities that go beyond recruitment requirements. From understanding how business leaders make decisions and how to get the best for and from each stakeholder through to why two people don’t work well together.
Our insights, gained over thirty years of working with thousands of people to create powerful change within organisations, have taught us the benefits of accurately assessing an individual’s behavioural traits and temperaments. Unlike core skills which are built upon slowly through experience, behavioural traits can be developed and enhanced quite rapidly. On-going behavioural tests have demonstrated that with the required level of mentoring and support a candidate can learn to turn their ‘weaknesses’ into strengths. In many cases, behavioural traits are unconscious personality characteristics. Once the candidate is aware of his or her areas of weakness and learns to balance these with their strengths, they can work towards becoming a more rounded team member.
This type of testing provides a recruiter with an objective means of deciding whether a candidate’s behavioural traits are able to meet the demands of the position being offered. There is no doubt that by meshing behavioural testing into the people management process whether for new recruitment or for team development makes a profound difference to team performance.
As both Hippocrates and Jung would agree, we are all made up of a blend of behavioural aspects such as strong communicators and team players through to detail-oriented individuals, better understanding these traits goes a long way to defining how individuals approach challenges and adapting corporate teams accordingly.
The Wilsher Group’s work in the field of creating powerful change, promoting high-performance teamwork and generating business excellence, has led to the development of C-Me™, a new behaviour profiling app developed in conjunction with Cool Clues.