A personality assessment is the foundation for my remote company’s productive and trustworthy culture. 

But it’s common to use them unproductively: Separating participants by their assessment’s main color.” Assigning three adjectives to each employee without inviting discussion. Reinforcing bias instead of promoting curiosity.  

As an International Coaching Federation (ICF) certified coach and certified expert in our organization’s personality assessment, I recognize my learning and development (L&D) teammates use our personality assessment creatively. Although not perfect, an assessment tool can enable employees to foster self-awareness, build stronger relationships and adapt to colleagues’ needs. Using one as a strategic tool can boost engagement and retention. How do you do it? 

How One Remote Organization Uses a Personality Assessment Differently  

At my 800-employee, global, remote organization, we’ve used a personality assessment for most of our history. We have learned from our mistakes as facilitators, like talking too much and not addressing employee skepticism of our personality tool. Those insights have helped us hone our strategy. We prioritize open access, multiple ways to access sessions and asynchronous touchpoints.  

Open Access

All employees get access to the assessment and their results. We prompt each new hire to take the survey at the end of their second week of onboarding. They receive their results and automatically receive an invite to the next Workstyles Intro Session” to take action on their results. In these sessions, they’re given permission to: 

  • Align their lives and work environments to better play to their strengths and interests, and to better meet their needs. 
  • Recognize when they slip into stress and employ self-regulating behaviors that bring them out of stress. 
  • Adapt their behaviors to better leverage their colleagues’ strengths and interests and better support others’ needs. 

Facilitated and Self-Serve Sessions

We offer group coaching sessions using our personality assessment to structure the conversations. At any time during their tenure, employees can join a Workstyles Doubles” or Workstyles Teams” session. These one-hour focused workshops enable any group of co-workers to troubleshoot sticky relationship dynamics and plan for how they’ll work together going forward.  

Participants also laugh and smile a lot — they’re given permission to talk about themselves and how they want to work together. After a Workstyles Teams session, one employee wrote: Having a facilitated conversation is a wonderful way to enter a nonjudgmental and safe space to get to know one another’s interests, preferences, needs, and stressors. Just attending the session and having an open dialogue built trust with my manager.” 

Embedded in Our Culture

We use our personality assessment as an ongoing resource instead of as a one-time survey. For example: 

  • Approximately 86% of employees have taken the survey and received their results. This means most team members have the opportunity to explicitly discuss their workstyles and needs with each other using this optional tool. From there, 77% of employees have attended a coach-led session to reflect and take action on their results. 
  • When an employee creates a Slack channel for a new working group or team, we use the automation tool Zapier to post a team-building activity so participants can discuss their personality assessment results.  
  • When someone changes teams or managers, they’re prompted to share their results and discuss work norms and preferences. 
  • During career planning exercises, employees reference their results to develop personal goals. 

We’ve designed over a dozen automated touchpoints in our asynchronous culture. This enables employees to grow together without a human coach being present. We have evidence of the impact: According to our most recent engagement survey, employees who report using the personality assessment are 7-10 percentage points more engaged at the company. 

Assessments as a Tool, Not an End 

Our goal is to design a more effective workplace, not to disseminate irrelevant information or reinforce bias. 

This is why we avoid using personality assessments prescriptively. They never influence hiring, promotions or transfer decisions. Because the assessment is only a tool, we encourage employees to share statements they agree with — and why — plus any they’d like to replace. We end every activity by discussing the question, “How will this conversation influence how you work together?” This drives action.   

These approaches yield higher engagement with the assessment and create more meaningful conversations in our group coaching sessions. When employees own their development tools, they use them with more fidelity and earnestness.  

Another employee shared a testimonial after their Workstyles Session: “This session provided an insightful analysis of my results where I could better comprehend how my innate self shows up at work (and in life). I walked away with an enhanced understanding of things that I am intrinsically motivated by, which is powerful information to consider when building my schedule/workflow. I also have insight now into how to identify some risk factors for overwhelm and burnout.” 

How to Get Started 

Your organization can use a personality assessment to drive engagement and meaningful relationships. Start with a few small steps: 

  • Use assessments as a tool: The goal isn’t for your employees to understand how your assessment works or to read all results without taking action. The goal is to use it as a tool for development and connection. Instead of explaining all the tool’s terminology and theory, help your employees understand the core philosophy. Then design interactive trust-building activities that help you meet your organization’s goals, like driving higher engagement and retention. 
  • Expand access across teams: Who can take the assessment today? Consider expanding to as many employees as you can. This supports an equitable, organization-wide L&D strategy that respects each teammate’s abilities and needs. 
  • Asynchronous tools. Once you’ve offered live coaching to your employees about their results, assess when they’re in a state of flux. When a senior leader leaves, for example, teams are looking for stability. A personality tool helps employees connect and reflect during these moments of change. 

Using personality assessments across three companies has led me to understand that: 

  • Personality assessments aren’t “set it and forget it.” Results are easily misinterpreted unless you support a thoughtful, curious and open culture. 
  • Any personality assessment requires intentionality to enable productive work relationships.  
  • These tools can positively transform any working environment whether in person, remote or hybrid.  

You can drive a productive, trustworthy culture at your organization using a personality tool to promote reflection and action. How will you drive engagement in your organization?