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Workplace Engagement InsightsLatest Employee Engagement NewsWorkplace EngagementUsing the Right Tools for the Job Can Improve Employee Engagement (Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater!)

Using the Right Tools for the Job Can Improve Employee Engagement (Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater!)

WestJet-employee-engagement

“Why Personality Tests Should Have No Place in Management” – headlines like this in Profit Magazine certainly capture your attention, but they risk misleading many readers who don’t know the real facts behind the various types of tests (and of course the folks who are headline skimmers).

It is a shame that so little is understood about the differences between ipsative tests like Myer’s Briggs and normative tests like Profiles XT and other psychometric tools.

Here is a brief explanation of the two:

  • Ipsative tests are those assessments where respondents compare two (or more) options and choose the one that they most prefer. They do not involve an objective comparison to any other person and are not effective for hiring or selecting employees.
  • Normative tests measure quantifiable attributes and compare the respondent to peers (a “normed” population). They are typically more useful for informing hiring and selection than other types of assessment.

Employee EngagementUsing Ipsative Tests

While ipsative tests aren’t recommended for hiring and selecting employees, that doesn’t mean they have no use whatsoever. As the article points out, Myers Briggs should ideally be used as a conversation starter. It is excellent for creating constructive dialogue on a team, preferably as part of an off-site development program. Ipsative tests can be used to draw attention to people’s different styles and create awareness in the team so members can communicate and work together more effectively.

Critical to understand is that the Myer’s Briggs is a snapshot of the person at a point in time and it is how they see themselves. It can and will change over time for most people, depending on experience and the circumstances they find themselves in.

Humans are very adaptive animals, who will adapt to the situation they are in. On a team, it is beneficial to know how people see themselves and what their adaptive preferences are. For this type of insight, I love Enneagram. It is the only styles tool that tells me how I will act when under stress and how I will act when things are going well. It also tells me what styles I should have for my “wingmen/wingwomen” to help me stay a balanced leader.

Using Normative Tests

Normative psychometric tools should be used in hiring, but only as a part of the process.

The key part is assessing fit with the team, the job, the culture, and the boss. Then, the tool can be used to help the hiring manager coach the new employee when they join the team.  This forms a critical part of building the relationship between the new hire and the hiring manager.

Remember the old adage in employee engagement:  people join companies but leave their manager.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater; as long as you’re using them correctly, each tool has its place. Use these tools wisely and increase engagement on your team!


An employee engagement survey will get you the data you need to improve leadership and employee engagement in your organization. Schedule a complimentary no-obligation consultation with me today.

Start engaging your employees right away with our FREE cheatsheet: Improving Employee Engagement in Just 10 Minutes.

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Written by Dwight Lacey

Dwight Lacey

Dwight is the President at Workplace Engagement Insights. He leads Workplace Engagement Insights with a clear understanding of the latest employee engagement research, survey best practices, and leadership styles that create successful businesses.

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