Motley: All developers have the same personality type - introverted and logically-minded. A personality test for a developer would be a waste of time.
Maven: Build a diversified team with different personality types; learn what type of personality each person has as everyone is different, and break down communication barriers with this knowledge. A great test is the Insights Discovery profile, which breaks people into cool blue, earth green, sunshine yellow, and fiery red personality types.
[Context: Motley hired 3 new developers on the team a few weeks ago and is concerned with the behavior of the new hires in relation to the rest of the team]
Motley: I feel our team is in disarray with 3 new developers that just started on the team. Of course, there is the usual transition period for new team members and an expected time period for the team to get to know the new people, but these guys are a little different than the rest of the team members. I'm not sure what to do about it. Perhaps we made a mistake in our hiring.
Maven: It's tough for a team to take on that many new people in a short time period. However, it may not be so easy to chalk up the difficulties to team transition. How are the new people different?
Motley: Well, the bulk of the team is your stereotypical software developer - very introverted, very logical, do as their told, rely on data to back up an argument, and really doesn't express feelings - characteristics like that. For the new people, we have:
Pasted from http://www.insights.com/Files/210_LS_enGB.pdf
Maven: My first observation is that you likely did extremely well with your new hires.
Motley: What gives you that idea? I only gave you a really brief description of each of them. I know you like to pretend your smart - is this another trek into your alternate reality you seem to love so much?
Maven: Always got a dig for me, eh Mot? Your descriptions are enough to know that you have a very diversified team in terms of personalities. The best teams are made up of a wide mix of people - not just your stereotypical developer. In fact, a team of people with all the same personalities likely is not going to optimize their creativity and have as much fun. The trick is for each team member to learn what kind of personality each person has, and cater to their strengths.
Motley: Ok, wise guy. I know you have an answer for everything. Regurgitate all that logic that fills that head of yours and tell me how we can get to know each other very quickly. I do not want to lose years of productivity and morale while everyone learns about each others' habits!
Maven: Well, I just so happen to have a suggestion, as surprising as that may sound. Get everyone on the team to take a personality test.
Motley: I suppose you want us all to go see a psychologist too! Jee whiz, Mave, isn't that a little too "touchy-feely" for a team of developers? They are going to laugh themselves crazy if I suggest that.
Maven: Well, I am totally serious. Sell it to them as a fun couple of hours that they will spend making the overall team more effective. Ask them to humor you and if they do not find it enlightening, you'll buy them drinks after work.
Motley: Great. I am going to go broke.
Maven: Maintain a positive attitude! You have many options with personality tests. My personal favorite is called "Insights Discovery". The test presents you with a set of questions that you will likely feel are completely irrelevant to judging a personality. At least, that is the way I felt. The results, however, astounded me. The personal profile I received nailed my personality, helped me learn about myself, helped me understand others, and helped me manage my interactions with others. By sharing the results with the rest of the team, they now have some strategies with how to more effectively interact with you.
Motley: I have already learned those strategies - humor you by pretending to listen to your banter, give you false complements once in a while to ensure your ego stays high, and make you feel like you are making a difference around here instead of being a useless investment to the company.
Maven: You need to visit "Dr. Feelgood" and take your positive pills. Anyway, I'll ignore your attempt at humor and fill you in. The resulting profile presents four personality types, of which you may be a mix of more than one:
Motley: Isn't calling someone by their color a little prejudiced?
Maven: In this case, no. Learn what color each person is and read the portion of their profile that indicates how they deal with people and how people should deal with them. Based on this information, you can make the team much more effective and understand everyone's behaviors much more thoroughly. James was telling me he did this on a previous team, which helped ensure the team was diversified and helped each team member deal with each other and be more empathetic to behaviors. I think he said he was blue, borderline green, which is actually fairly typical for a developer.
Motley: And I suppose all of this costs money?
Maven: Think of it as a team investment. A really good team investment. I don't know what the specific cost is, but it is well worth it. If cost is a major consideration, there are some free tests that you can do on the Internet that may not be as effective but will still provide some results. I am going to persuade every team I join in the future to do this kind of testing as it can only help, not hinder.
Motley: I'll ask for the funds from the boss, but if he laughs at me and it affects my annual review, I am coming after you...
Maven's Pointer: There are may different personality tests out there, and many of them are available for free. One of the most popular personality designations is the Myers-Briggs personality test. After taking the test, you end up with a four-character designation indicating your personality type. A very brief description of the results is as follows:
My (James) personality as indicated by Myers-Briggs is INTJ, which actually is fairly typical for a software developer, and in line with the green/blue personality type.
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