Personality Typing at Work – Standardized Tests for Fun and Effectiveness

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Personality tests abound, and depending on which one you use, you can be red, yellow, or green; you can hunt, farm, or shepherd sheep; you can be a driver, an analytical, an amiable, or an expressive; or you can be a sheep dog, bee, or owl. The number of personality tests and tools seems endless, and their utility is sometimes called into question. But personality “typing” can be a useful tool in a work environment. This brief paper introduces personality tests with a particular focus on David Keirsey's Temperament Sorter II® (KTS®) which he developed as a result of his work with the widely recognized Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®). Both systems tie back to Carl Jung's work, as well as to personality typing efforts dating back to Hippocrates. Keirsey's approach is widely used in government and industry, comprehensive enough to be useful, and simple enough to be understood.

The four basic temperament patterns as described by Keirsey (Artisans, Guardians, Idealists, and Rationals) are summarized and the more detailed breakout of sixteen sub-types is introduced. It is argued that the self assessment of temperament is useful in the workplace as it increases self-awareness and appreciation of co-workers. An improved perspective on temperament can help employees to expect the right kinds of high performance from each other, better appreciate their elected officials, and have the courage to manage.

We know that people relate to us in part as a result of how we relate to them, and that interpersonal relationships affect our productivity in the workplace. The water industry needs to recognize the importance of human interaction and despite the initial discomfort, to stop focusing solely on technical problems. When we better understand ourselves, and when we are armed with some perspective for understanding others, we are sure to do a better job of hearing what our co-workers are trying to tell us. Time spent on this topic can be fun for employees, and relationships can improve as a direct result of the training experience. And if we can improve our understanding and our relationships, our business units will certainly become more effective.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2008

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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