C-Suite Advisory

How Personality Tests Can Help You Maximize the Talents of Gen Z Workers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

In my experience working with Generation Z and Millennials for more than 20 years, I’ve been exposed to a lot of new and exciting things. By far, my favorite is personality testing. Not only do my Gen Z employees, campers, and I love learning more about ourselves, but I’ve also used the results to manage a remote team better and communicate more effectively during the coronavirus pandemic.

What is it about these tests that appeals to younger generations? Despite being raised in the social media age, Gen Zers are highly individual. They are more competitive and independent than the Millennials that precede them. Personality tests allow them to communicate who they are and tailor their careers to their unique strengths.

Recent studies suggest that as many as 89 of the Fortune 100 companies use some kind of personality test in their hiring processes. The personality test industry is booming — it’s currently worth $500 million. For example, most people have taken the Myers-Briggs (I’m an ENFP) and Enneagram (I’m a 7) tests.

While Gen Z (and social media) made personality tests trendy, they can be beneficial for all teams — especially as workers adjust to changes during times of crisis. These tests help us shed light on what makes us individuals, enabling us to relate better to one another and allowing teams to unite, play to their strengths, and work smarter as they shift to remote work.

Here are three ways you can use personality tests to manage your team better:

  1. Disrupt your processes to work for your team.
    Gen Zers have only ever known a world of constant upgrades, beta tests, and new versions. Whatever they produce, it’s never the final product — the goal posts are always moving for them. This “always becoming” mindset opens Gen Z up to a different kind of creativity: They’re more willing to take risks and fail, and they have a greater sense of self-exploration and personal evolution.
    This mindset also makes them better equipped to deal with the work changes happening because of COVID-19. Managers can empower these workers to experiment and discover what type of creativity works best for them, how they can disrupt processes, and how they can innovate in ways that suit their personalities and strengths while working remotely.
    This could mean giving them bite-sized projects that are easy to start, finish, and move on to the next one. Gen Zers like to figure things out for themselves, but there is a plethora of information out there to work with — even if they can’t be in the office. Managers must help them navigate that wealth of information so they can work in ways that best suit their personalities while delivering exceptional results.
  2. Host a productive meeting about your test results.
    During this ongoing crisis, managers can use personality test results as a starting point to break down digital communication barriers and build stronger work communities — even from afar — by meeting with workers (via videoconference, of course) and letting them unpack their results. Explaining who they are to someone else is an opportunity for employees to understand their inherent skills and working styles as their work environments shift.
    Then, help employees interpret their results to best play to their strengths. Many people entering the working world have no idea where their strengths lie, and the pandemic has only added to that uncertainty. They may have vague ideas from being praised or put off in school, but a structured investigation of these qualities can help people feel confident going for promotions, asserting themselves for tasks they’ll excel in, and much more.
    In addition, ask empathetic questions about team members’ working styles and what makes them tick. Managers have the opportunity to understand, unpack, and tailor conflict resolution practices, communication patterns, and task assignments based on what they learn about the personalities of their employees.
    These kinds of conversations tend to make employees feel quite vulnerable while they try to explain themselves and make themselves known in the workplace — especially during this already vulnerable time. Help them feel at ease and build trust by practicing active listening. For example, you might say, “I heard you say X. Is that correct?” This line of questioning will reinforce what they told you and make them feel seen. You can also share your own personality test results to build trust and share how you work.
  3. Optimize your training for various personality types.
    Personality tests can serve as a gateway to more personalized training. They can help determine the methods that can best prepare employees to thrive in this new work situation.
    Gen Zers might be more receptive to training programs that are broken up into bite-sized pieces. Incorporate a personalized plan with one-on-one time with directors, group activities, practical exercises, question-and-answer sessions, and more. This will appeal to their “always becoming” mindset and individualistic natures.
    If you had a professional development day on the books before the coronavirus outbreak, for instance, you should consider scrapping the idea of spending a whole day videoconferencing. Instead, you could host shorter sessions covering the same material over a few weeks.

To gain insight into what training methods will work best based on personality styles, ask questions like, “How can I bring the best out of you?” or “In what environment do you work best?” Weekly Zoom sessions, for instance, allow introverts to connect in smaller groups and compose their thoughts while also giving extroverts much-needed social time. If you can figure out the mix of elements necessary to ensure employees are as involved, creative, and innovative as they can be, their work will be that much stronger — even during a global pandemic.

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Steve Robertson
Steve Robertson is the CEO of Bold-Education, an organization specializing in youth-to-adult programming and corporate teaming, where he cultivates a culture that results in memories lasting a lifetime. Steve Robertson is a Gen Z and Millennial expert who has spent more than 20 years working with youth around the globe. Steve Robertson is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.