I recently attended the AUSAPT (Australian Association for Psychological Type) conference here in Melbourne and as a long term administrator of such instruments, it was really great to be among like minded people, get a refresher and learn LOTS of new things.
Now these tools seem to divide learning professionals. It should be obvious by now I’m in the ‘FOR’ camp, but there are those who aren’t. Believe it or not – I was one of them once.
I spent a considerable amount of time in my Psychology degree belittling these instruments and referring to them disparagingly as “Pop-Psychology.” Of course, at that point I had never actually used one to coach an individual, or to help build a team.
Add to that, I had seen the output of these tools used to allocate people to roles they didn’t want, to prescriptively decide a person’s career and justify any number of poor management decisions.
But the problem lies with the unscrupulous use of the tool – not the tool itself. A shovel can be used to cause harm, it doesn’t mean it should be banned from the task of digging.
Since becoming accredited in a number of different instruments (different tools for different purposes and groups), I have found that when used responsibly, instruments such as The Myers- Briggs Type Indicator, The Belbin Team Roles, The Team management Index, DISC Advanced, The Team Management Index and so on, add great value to individuals and groups.
They aren’t perfect, they aren’t the panacea for all workplace issues, but they really do help people in teams have profound insights into their own behaviour and the behaviour of others.
They help people understand the diversity of teams, and, if used properly, build team cohesion, reduce conflict, improve communication, build tolerance, create acceptance, increase productivity and possibly even reduce turnover and absenteeism in the long run.
The secret is ensuring the person administering the instrument is not only competent and knowledgeable but has both the individual and team’s best interests at heart.