When I applied for my current job, I was required to take the Predictive Index (PI) assessment along with submitting my résumé and completing an application. Honestly, this requirement is one of the reasons I wanted to apply. I’m constantly seeking knowledge and to better understand myself, so this was right up my alley. Plus, I figured if an employer wanted to know my personality, it was a pretty good indicator that it mattered to them that my personality fit the type of job I would be doing.
I have taken a lot of tests, assessments, etc. over the years. Those that I have found to be accurate descriptors of me are the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Enneagram, and now the Predictive Index. Moderately accurate are the Zodiac Sign (Astrology) and Evo Brain Type Assessment. The one that I have found doesn’t describe me at all is the Life Path Number (Numerology).
At the end of my first week at work, I was called in to meet with the CEO and our human resources person. They go over the PI results with each employee and explain what it means. That was another thing that told me I’m in the right place. The CEO himself fully believes in the PI and takes time out of his schedule to explain it to each new hire.
The assessment is simple, in terms of taking it. I was given a list of words or phrases from which I had to select those that I thought accurately describe my personality. Then, using that same set of words and phrases, I had to select which ones I felt my current job (the library at the time I had taken the assessment) required of me.
The above image shows where I fall in each of the four categories: dominance, extraversion, patience, and formality. The Self section is how I see myself. The Self-Concept section is how I believe my current job (library) required me to be. You can see from the graph that my extroversion level (B) was moved from the extreme left of the graph (very introverted) to right of center (extroverted). You can also see that my formality level (D) was moved from the extreme right of the graph (very precise) to left of center (flexible). I’ll get into that later. First, I want to explain the four categories.
Dominance: The Need to Control
The wording here indicates that a person is either more collaborative or more independent. I have always thought of myself as independent. I do prefer to work alone. However, the CEO told me, and showed me in the results, that independent refers more to taking a leadership role in this instance. I am more collaborative because I prefer to be part of the team rather than to lead the team.
Strengths: understanding, collaborative, accepting of others’ decisions, supportive, interested in team welfare and development.
Weaknesses (referred to as cautions in the actual results): shies away from tough conversations, has difficulty making unpopular decisions, overly cautious, may be seen as not strategic enough.
- Shift your mindset from “I want to go along” to “I want to be fair.”
- Stand your ground when you know you’re correct.
- Come to meetings prepared to contribute.
Extraversion: The Need for Social Interaction
Not surprisingly, I’m introverted. Not as much as I expected to be, though. I’m technically classified as very introverted, as opposed to extremely introverted.
Strengths: creative problem solver, data driven, analytical, thoughtful approach to communication, reflective and introspective, anticipates problems.
Weaknesses (Cautions): slow to trust, reluctant to share until comfortable, communication may be pointed or minimal, may appear overly task-focused, may appear remote.
- Give presentations in your area of expertise.
- Initiate conversations or schedule time to speak with others.
- Create processes that encourage communication.
Patience: The Need for Stability
I have never thought of myself as a patient person. I had a conversation once with a co-worker at the library. She had remarked on my patience. I said, “I only appear to be patient on the outside. On the inside, I’m screaming.” She said, “That’s what patience is, the appearance of being unbothered.” Within this framework, it’s more about how you work than how you interact with others. If you prefer to take things slow and steady, you are more patient. If you prefer to just dive into the work, you are less patient.
Strengths: calm, stable, thoughtful listener, builds solid group processes, gives people time to process.
Weaknesses (Cautions): uncomfortable with change, may over-analyze, has difficulty under time pressure, too comfortable with the familiar and slow to adopt new ideas.
- Clarify timelines and focus on “when.”
- Manage time wisely – start early and leave time for the unexpected.
- Keep others informed when progress is made.
Formality: The Need to Conform
I’ve always thought of myself as non-conformist, though not rebellious. However, in this context, it refers to whether one is flexible or precise with regard to work structure. On this one, I’m technically very formal, but I’m on the line of extremely formal.
Strengths: strong discipline and execution, builds structure and respect for the plan, focuses team on how to get things done right, organized and thorough follow-up.
Weaknesses (Cautions): uncomfortable in ambiguous situations, struggles with situations that call for flexibility, seen as a perfectionist.
- Learn how to move forward when “enough” information is available.
- Ask yourself: is it worth this much time?
- Recognize and respect flexibility shown by others.
Self vs. Self-Concept
As I mentioned, my extraversion and formality were shifted from one side to the other between my Self and Self-Concept assessments. This means that, while I am introverted, I was expected to be extroverted at the library. This is absolutely the case. I worked at a public library and was therefore required to pleasantly interact with hundreds of people every day. It also means that while I prefer structure, I was expected to be flexible. This hadn’t always been the case, but in 2017 everything changed. Our new director changed the staffing model and began a multiple-year renovation of the building.
My whole world was turned upside down. I was expected to work in the middle of a construction zone with limited resources, and we had gone from a staff of five in my department to just me. To top that off, when I asked the director if she could explain to me what the changes would look like (because I know I need details to function) she told me that she can’t because she’s a big picture person, not a detail person, and she likes to make decisions on the fly.
I hadn’t told anyone at my new job what had been happening at the library, but the CEO said that from the results he was seeing, I must have been put through the wringer. He explained it this way… Imagine you’re an introverted, structured bungee cord. Someone begins pulling on one side (your introversion). It stretches you, but it’s manageable. Then, they start pulling on the other side (your structure), too. This is enough pressure to cause you to snap at any given minute.
“I don’t know how you were able to work in an environment like that for as long as you did without breaking,” he said. I cried. I had never felt so understood by someone in my whole life up to that point, especially one who had no particulars of my situation, and certainly not by an employer. He knew it all just from the personality assessment. When he saw me crying, he smiled kindly at me.
“I can see that I’ve hit the nail on the head.” I nodded because it was all I could manage at that point.
“What all of this tells me,” he continued, “is that you are a very strong and resilient person. You can take a high level of stress for a long time and your work hardly suffers from it, if at all. But, we don’t want to do that to you. Because it also means that you’re the one who suffers. We want you to be happy, healthy, and productive.”
I tell this story today, because today we met as a company for our quarterly meeting and one of the things we did was go over our PI results and how that relates to everyone else in our group in terms of how we work together and how we can best communicate. Below is a card I was given to put on the outside of my cubicle at work. It tells everyone how to interact with me: let me collaborate, let me think it through, give me stability, and give me structure.
Personality tests aren’t the be all and end all, but they can be useful tools for growth. I think that is particularly evident with the PI, because it gives you tips for working on your weaknesses. Perhaps more importantly, personality tests help us understand ourselves. How can we expect others to understand us, if we don’t understand ourselves?