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Personality Testing:The Hidden Sustainability Weapon

By: Sharon Birkman Fink, President and CEO, Birkman International
Posted: May 28, 2009

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Producers and marketers of cosmetics and personal care products typically place a premium on energy, innovation, style and awareness of social trends as key values for candidates that are promoted into positions of responsibility, in every area of the organization. What motivates a sales team may be very different from what motivates a team of product researchers and chemists. Through personality assessment companies can identify which of their current staff might have the natural strength or potential leadership style required in specific operations. Leaders have traits and talents, but basic skills can always be further developed. Assessments can accelerate development by pointing up strengths and weaknesses and allowing leaders to broaden their portfolio of leadership skills. Based on the company’s assessment of the leadership needed in each functional area, the desired leadership styles can be learned, cultivated, honed and enhanced at every organizational level thanks to personality tests that reveal and assess individual strengths and weaknesses. Organizations using personality assessment can often find unexpected leaders capable of inspiring others in the organization to change and improve.


Many cosmetics and personal care companies grow through merger and acquisition transactions. Integrating the personnel of the acquired entity is vital to retain and promote those persons whose creativity and customer service capabilities made the acquired entity attractive to begin with. For the acquisition to really work, these employees must perform at peak levels that are not at cross purposes with the combined entity needs, with “performance” measured by metrics that can be easily tracked, reported upon and rewarded. Personality testing is a vital element in performance measurement and enhancement, because it makes understandable the way people prefer to handle direct and indirect communication. Communication impacts team performance, and structuring teams based on personality assessment of compatible communication styles can improve internal trust and communication, both of which are necessary to high performance in a merged organization. Company-wide personality assessments should be able to give management some sense of how their important team members react to goal setting and how accurately they interpret the requirements for success.


A key goal of organizational training is to accelerate the promotion of qualified candidates into positions of responsibility. The best way to accomplish this is through training that focuses on and develops the unique assets of each individual. Training should enhance how personality traits mesh with specific job requirements and allow an individual to work with or lead others productively and effectively. To support such training efforts, the best personality tests analyze and report what motivates workplace behavior, and identifies the needs that drive behavior in positive and productive directions. Each person will have his or her own strengths, weaknesses, productive behaviors and stress behaviors that may be similar to or differ from his or her peers. Personality testing identifies and brings those characteristics into focus. The training can then prepare employees to fit where they will be the most comfortable and able to execute to the fullest of their capabilities. When approached in this way, training will accelerate the promotion and retention of qualified employees who can help the company grow and evolve. And that ultimately is what defines a sustainable company.

Sharon Birkman Fink is president and CEO of Birkman International, Inc., which provides an assessment tool that accurately measures internal needs, behaviors, occupational preferences and organizational strengths. She can be reached at 713-623-2760.