While thinking about what to post today, I was reminded of the DiSC® personality profile testing I was required to take before being considered for my current “librarian/historian” position by our Human Resources Department. It is interesting first, because I took the test in October of 2004 but was not offered the job until November of 2005. After a year, I had given up on expecting any interest when seemingly out of the blue the job offer came in a phone call. Within days, I accepted the position, put our house up for sale, and was planning the 1,200 mile journey.
I understand the history of these personality tests and the reasoning for using them in the hiring process almost everywhere now but I personally believe there is enough error in them to make them potentially dangerous to the individual. Playing the percentages, however, companies and organizations use them to weed out or drill down to the pool of candidates that will likely make a good fit. I especially like (sarcasm) the disclaimer on the results that says, “As you read this report, please remember that there are no right or wrong answers, and no one dimension or pattern is better than any other.” Yeah, right!
Anyway, the DiSC test revealed that my highest dimension is “Dominance-Steadiness.” Supposedly, this is the “classical profile pattern” they name “Achiever Pattern” of 15 “classical patterns that describe the behavior of people with a specific blend of the four DiSC® dimensions.” There is also an “intensity index” which “represents the range of intensities for each of your dimensions of behavior.”
In the department under whose auspices I work, there is a predilection to emphasize the animal personality types promoted by Dr. Gary Smalley and Dr. John Trent, i.e. the Lion, the Otter, the Golden Retriever, and the beaver. Our manager often refers to the behavior characteristics of individual staff as indicative of these animal personality profiles of which she thinks fit although most of the department have not taken the actual DiSC or any other personality profile.
Of course, similar personality types from the Greeks which Tim LaHaye and other use are the “choleric”, “sanguine”, “phlegmatic”, and “melancholy”. Putting them together, the lion/choleric/dominance, the otter/sanguine/influence, the golden retriever/phlegmatic/steadiness, and the beaver/melancholy/compliance are basically the same.
Although my manager may never have looked at the results of my DiSC® testing from a year before I was hired or may have forgotten them quickly thereafter, I am consistently placed in the “beaver” profile primarily and secondarily in the “golden retriever” profile in passing group discussions of the topic whereas the DiSC® testing results would place me primarily as a “lion” and secondarily as a “golden retriever.” I wonder why the discrepancy between my manager’s perception and the results of the actual testing? Mmmmmmmmm… Certainly, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to speculate.
In reality, I would tend to agree more with the DiSC® Dominance-Steadiness profile to describe my personality type at work. I believe, however, these types of tests are too general to be of much value other than for making generalizations or fun office banter. If accurate, they could be useful in creating better teams. There are too many testing variables though that seem to me could significantly skew the results despite the specialists’ claim that years of testing results makes them trustworthy indicators of predicting behavior.
In a departmental social gathering today, I was described as a “beaver” and “lion” personality. Since the department will supposedly all be participating in the DiSC® this month, the subject came up in discussion. It will be interesting to see if the perceptions of others coincide with the personal impressions of co-workers.