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Where Is Tomorrow’s Management Talent?

By: Sharon Birkman Fink, President and CEO, Birkman International
Posted: July 24, 2009

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Combining effective personality testing with training has another advantage in multi-generational workplaces, where tension and miscommunication can occur between employees with clashing personality traits or styles (more prevalent than ever as Boomers stay longer and Millennials want to move up). The best personality assessment tools can address this problem by breaking down communication barriers because they offer powerful insights into how peers think and act, and allow focused training to encourage desired behaviors.

The best strategy for meeting the future management crisis is to promote individuals already with the organization into positions of significant responsibility and leadership. Testing can identify their strengths, motivational needs and stress reactions, and provide basic recommendations for how they can fulfill their motivational needs while best contributing to organizational success. Testing shows whether people perform best with individual responsibility or as part of a team . . . prefer structured or flexible work environments . . . focus on details or the big picture . . . take individual responsibility or delegate through others.

When approached in this way, training will accelerate the promotion of qualified employees who can help the company grow and evolve. The training focus should be on measuring and understanding whether personality traits mesh with specific competencies required for the leadership task at hand. Competencies often go beyond hard skills and experience and may include the ability to productively work with or effectively lead others, by such behaviors as accepting feedback, advancing teamwork efforts and demonstrating workplace satisfaction.

Adaptation Is the Solution

Although it’s possible to some degree to generalize about certain outlooks or proclivities of generations as demographic groups, it is important to remember that each member of a generation will have his or her own strengths, weaknesses, productive and stress behaviors and learning preferences that may be similar to or differ from his or her generational cohorts. Personality testing identifies and brings those characteristics into focus.

Qualities that make a difference in organizational performance can be found within individuals not previously tapped for leadership roles, and a well designed personality assessment can often find these undiscovered leaders. With leadership candidates in high demand, finding these diamonds in the rough can give your organization an additional bench for minimal cost. By identifying which candidates have the potential to be leaders and their potential leadership styles, personality testing establishes a systematic program for leadership development. Such a planned approach can spell the difference between a prepared and effective organization and one with a leadership and performance deficit.