In management 3.0 Jurgen Appello proposed « Moving Motivators », a personality model focussed on personal drivers. The accompanying exercise have you prioritize motivators like « Curiosity » « Honor » « Acceptance », « Power », etc. You end up with a small set of preferred motivators, a less preferred range, and the dislike range (refer to his original material for accurate description).
This is a cool exercise, and I like this model, humble, neutral, not pretending to be scientific but rather useful (he simplified the motivators from Steven Reiss 16 Basic Desires).
As I see more people using it, and it may be your case, I feel like giving a warning on how to approach this. I’ve seen people use other personality model like MBTI, DISC, Process Communication, you name it. The common mistake I’ve seen was thinking the model was the Truth. Let’s stand back.
The model is just a support for talking with a person about herself. The talking is were you’re going to learn about the person, not the model.
A personality test’s result based on a given model is highly contextual, if not inaccurate… or wrong.
Few examples that can bias the results
This morning you woke up after a bad night… you shouldn’t have drink coffee after 8p.m., and the alcohol was cheap. On the way to the job you felt cold, you ask yourself about this flu everyone had but not you… yet. You’re shivering. Then a dumb driver cut your path, almost crashing in your car. You curse him, blame him, blame yourself on your lack of attention. Then you arrive at the office. Would you pass a personality test right now, arriving at your office, would it be give a proper view of your day-to-day personality ? Then what if they were a cake awaiting with “happy birthday ?” written on it by your colleagues ?
Now let’s say you’re hiring someone. In front of you, the person knows the test. She has a high self-awareness, knows what these test means. Do you think she will answer what she thinks you want her to answer, or what she really thinks ? Then there’s you, making the exercice. You’re part of the discussion, asking questions. Unless you’re a highly experienced interviewer on personality testing, you will be projecting yourself, give insights through body langage, question more this and less that, use judging words. Wouldn’t the results reflect your relation to the person during the interview ?
The model was designed in the US in 1982. You’re french and you learnt the model through a version translated in your langage in 2002. Do you think the people who translated the book was this skilled as to reproduce the subtleties of the original, taking in count the context, the differences in culture ? I’ve spotted some questionable translation in Strenght Finder and Process Com’.
How to know you lost your distance with the model ?
From example’s I witnessed :
- you can’t stop qualifying people with the model’s words. « She’s a high I » (referring to DISC), « She’s so Inputs » (Strength Finder), « He is an Order-first » (Management 3.0). They were tons of subtle words to qualify people’s personality, qualities and preferences without these models. And suddenly, a few words are enough ?
- you think you know psychology. You think you understand people since you red the book. Well, think again : would it be so simple ? You red in a book a model giving a description of you that you liked. Good for you. It may not work that well for others.
- you trust the model more than the person’s self-awareness. When your direct didn’t recognize herself in the description and proposed another wording on herself, you keep referring to the model.
“essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful” (George Box) and that’s exactly the point : even a meaningless exercice can be a good standpoint for a personality interview. That’s basically what people are doing on dates. You could even get meaningful insights on someone’s motivators by starting a conversation about the weather : “If only this could last” vs “there’s a good day to enjoy”.
Use personality model as a tool for a higher perspective
On every model I’ve seen, good results came in the context of an interview with someone skilled on using it, and following a higher purpose. A coach trying to elevate your self-awareness. An HR consultant helping you reboot your career. A CEO trying to figure out what value a hiring candidate could bring to his company. Not only were they able to not forcefully stick to the model, but they were using it as a simple insight for a higher approach.
To CEO & managers : heretics are okay
I spent a night drinking with a new friend, talking about innovation, future thinking, rebuilding the world. He called me a Rebel. I disagreed with such shortsighted vision of myself. He explained me how he recently discovered Process Communication, and thought I was what was labelled a Rebel, then described the proposed meaning of the word.
I repeated my disagreement and questioned both his interpretation of Process Communication and Process Communication’s choice of words. You guess his answer ? « Typical Rebel answer ». Would I’ve said yes, he was right, would I’ve said no, he was right.
I understand this tendency. When you discover a new theory or a new tool, you’re learning to use it as much as you can, and you wan’t it to work. But still, you have to look for its limits, otherwise it’s no more science, it’s dogma. With the heretics pattern : the existence of disbelievers still validate your beliefs.
My friend reminded me of a former manager who asked me 10 years ago if I was intentionally trying to not fit in the boxes. His voice was of disapproval. In other words, he suspected me of trying intentionally not being understood by him. Twisted. The problem was not the boxes, but that you had to fit it them (while you can simply stand on them). A few years and people quitting later, I suspect I was not alone to feel uncomfortable.
If someone do not feel good with the personality model you’re applying on them, trust them more than your book. That’s respect 101. Do not treat them as heretics. Take a step back and ask them how they would explain their own behavior in a discussed case. You may learn a thing or two.
The final word goes to CEOs and managers who, by their behavior, serve as a reference for all their employees and directs.
If you don’t want to see people treated as heretics,
then don’t behave like there is a dogma.