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Common mistakes in using insight profiling

I've noticed that character / personality profiling insight tools are becoming increasingly popular across the charity sector. More and more I'm see colleagues training and offering profiling and insight services.

There are three more frequently used tools: Belbin offers insight into team roles and you come out with a preferred role e.g. Resource Investigator etc; Colour Profiling gives an colour and an energy; and Myers Briggs (my own preferred tool) gives a series of letters (I'm a solid INFP)

I use the free 16 personalities online tool (based on Myers Briggs) in my Management Skills & Confidence programme, I have done since I first wrote it about 2 years ago. I like it because of the insight it offers into how different personality types might tend to be across different areas of life, including as a boss, as a colleague and as a team member.

But now, almost every time I get to the session on understanding our own characteristics and those of our colleagues in the programme, I'm being told "we've already done this!". There is also a common, sometimes implied but unspoken subtext to this comment, - "we've done it and I didn't find it useful".

Worse, still, I was working on the session last week with one client and he told me his organisation had done the Colours version and that he had found it really disempowering. When I questioned why, he said that the majority of the organisation's senior leaders had come out as being Red or Yellow and that those colours were now being worn as a "badge of honour" leaving those who were more Green and Blue, feeling as though they were "the wrong colour"

The whole reason I use the insight tools, isn't just to find out more about our own potentially subconscious habits and behaviours, but more a) to look at the character and insights of others we work with and for and see how they match or differ and b) to identify where our blind spots might be and how it might feel to operate at the other end of the spectrum / scale and what I can learn about myself and others and our interactions, form knowing this.

So, if you've recently (or not so recently) done one or more of these profiling exercises, go back to it and take another look at what your "type" tells you about what you're not / where you're not comfortable / what areas aren't in your usual field of vision, not just what you are!

And, what can you also learn about others in your team and wider organisation?

Profiling is not to be used as a reason for why you can't / won't / don't do something naturally or behave in a certain way, it helps you to look at what you might be able to change to do it differently or how you can better understand others in your team.


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