Apart from the job hunting which defines my life these days, I’ve also been following a course in Project Management to hone my sense of the skills and lingo used and expected in working life outside of academia.
Though the course does carry hints of the Dilbertesque, it is refreshing in its unwavering focus on the practical application of the ideas developed within the field. And at times, this focus does take a detour into eccentricity.
One example of this is the concept of personality tests. In order to assemble the most effective project team, you need to recruit people whose personalities and skills match. Skills are easy to assess, personality slightly more tricky. So what is a project manager to do? He hands out tests! In the course, we took a few of these tests to get a feel for them and how they work. And appropriately, we are also using the results of these tests as a basis to define the project groups for our course.
The first test was the Belbin Team Inventory, which was created by management theorist Meredith Belbin. Belbin had found that a management team required eight different roles to be filled within the team in order to be effective. These roles he called:
Based on these 8 types, Belbin devised a personality test that would identify which roles a given person would be suited for when working in a team.
The test is based on groups of 8 statements – on for each type. You have to allocate 10 points on the statements, and at the end of the test, your scores are added up, and you can find out which types you’re aligned with, and which ones you suck at. The top category defines your best abilities and the second and third highest scoring categories also define your strengths. The 2 to 3 lowest-scoring types are obviously your weak points.
My high scoring categories were:
And my lowest scoring ones were:
7. Resource Investigator
Apparently, that means that I’m good at the overall strategic planning, the analysis, the idea generation and the coordinating and motivating of others, and bad at the actual practical administration, networking and taking bold new initiatives. I suppose that’s not entirely untrue. Yet to think that companies actually and seriously use such a test as a basis to hire people and create teams is really weirding me out.
The other test was the Myers Brigg type indicator test which doesn’t focus on your team work ability but rather uses Jungian archetypes as a basis to define you as a person. The test consists of a long list of statements to which have to agree or disagree. These statements end up defining you in 4 dichotomies:
Now, I took this test twice, once in the Danish version recommended in the course, and once in the free version above. And amazingly enough, the results turned out pretty much the same. My type is what they call INFP, which is short for “Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving.”
The INFP type is apparently often caring, curious, and idealistic persons who don’t deal well with hard logic and impersonal judgements. I think that is quite fitting of me, as well. I find this discrepancy between the analytical stance uncovered in the Belbin test and the caring, idealistic stance in the Myers Brigg test quite interesting. Because I often do feel detached and contemplative, and prone to analytical cynicism, yet I really hate it when I come to such conclusions: My idealism tends to overpower it. It is a fascinating dynamic, and I’m surprised to find it in such personality tests that are often so easily discounted.