Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Yesterday at work we had a team-building training that revolved around discovering our personal work styles. Usually I love this stuff, and left for work excited about exploring how I work and how my colleagues and I can work well together. But the day turned sour somehow, and I left there drained and depressed. Rather than feeling motivated, I felt frustrated and more misunderstood than ever.

The session started off with a multiple choice personality test assessment. It quickly defined us each as one of four categories with varying scales of how intensely we scored in each category. I was pretty middle-of-the-road on all four which didn't surprise me; one of my greatest identified "strengths" at work is that I am flexible and adaptable. My other three colleagues scored very strongly in one category or other, and all of a sudden, I was cast as a "type", too, in the area where I had my highest (albeit, not all-that-high) score.

The problem was, I didn't think this category described me all that well, or at least, no more strongly than I fit into the other categories. I said so, but they seemed intent on making me fit that characteristic. When I gave concrete examples of the disparity between that personality definition and my typical work style, they tried to find examples that could apply in those instances. We debated these things back and forth until I realized that they wanted me to fit that particular category whether I felt it was accurate or not.

What made it worse to me, is that it was not the category where I wanted to place myself. I felt like I got pigeon-holed into an archetype that was only mildly me. Or was it? Was I in denial? Did I fit that category better than I thought I did? Bottom line: did it matter? It wasn't who I thought I was, and wasn't the person I want to be. But there I am, or there I find myself, categorized as the "Conscientious" person of the group who is detail-oriented, stable, resistant to change unless there's a reason for change, slow to make decisions without elaborate time to think things through, and a person who is summed up as a Perfectionist.

So not me. And so not the person they have now learned how to work with more effectively. It was definitely disappointing.


  1. :(

    Sorry that's how it went. Like you, I often look forward to those kinds of (nerdy) exercises, but it sounds like they were trying to mold the people to the exercise instead of the exercise to the people. Never works.

    If you feel comfortable, I think you should give feedback on this to your superiors.

  2. Great advice, Kristan. My true manager didn't think it fit me, either, and he's the one with the most important opinion.

    But it was disappointing. I do love these (nerdy) exercises and usually learn so much from them. I'm sure I'll get the chance to take another personality/work style assessment soon. Makes you wonder how we ever get any actual work done... ;)