Diagnostic Tools for Management

 

Jamie Slaughter

Behavioral Diagnostic Instruments

 

Abstract

This semester several, various behavioral diagnostic instruments were utilized, including the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Emotional Intelligence test, and an assessment to determine both Locus of Control, and Tolerance of Ambiguity. This paper discusses each assessment separately to identify what my individual scores were on these instruments, then explains how they can be useful to me as a person, and lastly delves into how they can be utilized in industrial and/or educational settings. After further research it was determined that all of the diagnostic tools can be all be useful in one way or another.

The analysis of the tools used helped me gain a knowledge base of the importance of learning more about myself and the preferences I hold. In addition, it is important to learn more about their affects on everyday life, as well as how they affect people at school and work. There are many ways in which the tools could be administered in a work-setting to learn more about others’ preferences and utilize those to enhance the working relationship.

 

 

 

Myers Briggs Type Indicator

One of the first diagnostic tools used this semester was the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Originally Carl Gustav Jung, in the 20th Century, developed ideas about the psychological archetypes and late Katharaine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers developed the MBTI. They were a mother-daughter team and believed that the tool would assist females who were entering jobs initially during World War II. The tool is composed of 93 questions and creates combinations of four letters which represent a specific personality type (Myers and Myers, 1995). The tool is now used in many educational and industrial settings to help identify individual’s preferences.

The results that I received after taking this assessment were ENFJ, 89% Extraversion over Introversion, 75% Intuition over Sensing, 12% Feeling over Thinking, and 44% Judging over Perceiving. One major point that stood out in this diagnostic tool was the strong extraversion preference. Extraversion is tendency for a person to focus more on the external or outer environment. Also a person with an extravert personality tends to thrive on working with others. There was also a strong preference for intuition versus sensing, which means that someone is more likely to base decisions on their own insights and their own perception, rather than what their senses are telling them (Opt and Loffredo, 2003). The feeling preference over thinking means that a person tends to focus more on their own moral beliefs, rather than strictly reason or logic. Judging preference over perceiving normally is possessed by the type of person who likes to live a life with structure and well drawn out plans (Kennedy and Kennedy, 2004). While each person possesses various levels of each of the personality types, the score reflects the letter associated with the word that describes the person based on the one with the higher score after the tool has been administered.

There are benefits and downfalls to each of the various personality types, especially in an educational and industrial environment. Extraverts tend to be more social and normally will excel in situations in which they need to work with others. They also tend to be able to communicate their strengths and objectives which can help the person be very successful in the workplace. One downfall is that sometimes it is hard for this type of person to listen because communicating is such a strong suit (Hirsh, 1991). The opposite is true of an introvert as they tend to seek their inner abilities and are less likely to thrive in a setting where they constantly have to be in social situations or group settings. In an educational setting extraverts may be too social at times, whereas introverts may have a harder time dealing with team projects and me be known as less social.

When intuition is a stronger trait people tend to be able to look outside of the box when solving work problems, but can also be more likely to procrastinate. A sensing personality tends to be a person who can look at facts better, but can sometimes be too detail-oriented and literal on the job (Hirsh, 1991). Obviously each of these preferences can be beneficial in various industries and someone who maybe prefers the intuitive side is probably still able to pay attention to details and facts, but may prefer to look at the whole picture rather than just the data. Again, a balance between the two personality types can be ideal, as there are really strengths and weaknesses on both sides of the spectrum.

Feeling types tend to think about others and really focus on their values. Thinkers more often really consider the entire process involved in making decisions and tend to make them non-personal. Hirsh (1991) mentions that sometimes feeling types tend to think about others to the point that it appears that they are people-pleasing and may come off as not being able to make tough choices. While this may be well-suited for certain jobs, it can definitely be a downfall too. That makes this is an important trait to recognize when deciding on a career or education path. For example, a prison guard would probably be more successful with a stronger thinking over feeling personality because they will need to make good decisions without focusing on the feelings of prisoners. However, in some careers it would very important to focus a lot on the feelings of others and that is a better quality to have. For example, in financial planning when you have a fiduciary standard, it is really important to be the feeling type because you are required to put your clients’ interests above your own to find investment products for them and when making recommendations.

People with a higher level judging MBTI score than a perceiving score normally are those who enjoy organization and really thrive when they have checklists to work off of. Sometimes these people will tend to be less willing to accept change and have less flexibility due to their aversion to straying from the plans (Hirsh, 1991). Certain career choices may be hard for this personality type if they prefer to always follow a process and do things in an organized manner. Also the opposite is true of a perceiver, as they may prefer to be in an environment where there is change.

Over the years there have been numerous studies that examine the MBTI tool and have analyzed the results as the tests have been administered on a wide variety of people in different careers. One study found was by Gardner and Martinko, (1996) and it came up with a theory, based on research done over the years that says people in management oftentimes favor thinking and judgment over feeling and perceiving compared to other people. However, as stated in the study, these qualities are also normally preferred in management type positions so it is believed that some managers may fabricate the fact that they favor these qualities in knowing such to try to attempt to make it appear that they possess these traits. Another interesting piece from the study was a theory that analyzed the way various MBTI scores affect conflict management. The study stated that ETJs (Extraverted, Thinking, and Judging types) tend to choose more of a competitive style when dealing with conflict, whereas those with the thinking preference tend to lean more towards compromise. EFJs (Extraverted, Feeling, and Judging types) are more likely to choose a collaborative approach. The various combinations of scores on the MBTI can play into several different pieces of one’s life, without them even realizing it.

After reading studies further, while employers may not choose candidates for positions based on MBTI and schools most likely wouldn’t deny a student’s application due to the score, it could be helpful in many other ways. For example, employers could use this sort of tool to determine managers based on their scores and compatibility. The scores could also be used to help determine teams or groups in either setting. It may also be helpful to look back at the scores if there is conflict or issues that arise as a way to help determine how to resolve the problems. Another way it could also be used is to help assign projects to employees, based on their preferences determined by the assessment. Sometimes if groups contain too many extraverts, it may be more of a social hour, but if you have one extravert with all introverts, the extravert may take over too much. Overall, the tools can be a great device to help in both an education and industrial environment.

 

Emotional Intelligence Diagnostic Tool

Another diagnostic tool that was used this semester was the Emotional Intelligence (EI) test. My result for this test was a score of 83. The diagnostic tool stated that this score shows that I possess the skills of being able to recognize, distinguish, and articulate emotions in myself as well as in others. The score seemed to be quite accurate and because I feel that in my career, working with financial matters, it is important to be able to identify emotions that my clients are feeling. It is imperative to understand emotions especially during the highs and lows, from telling people that they need to slow down on spending and instead save more, to letting a 50 year old know that they have worked hard and are able to retire early. There are also things like death, divorce, and retirement which are huge transitions in life, where people need guidance as well as emotional support. It is a great skill to be able to understand emotions and relate to people. This will also be beneficial to management positions because it is important to value the emotions of employees and recognize how others are feeling.

Emotional Intelligence has many different interpreted meanings. It can be described as the skill of noticing emotion within yourself and other people, knowing how emotions affect relationships, and handling emotions within yourself and in others. A study by done Shipley, Jackson, and Segrest (2010) focused on the relationship between EI and academic success, as well as EI and work experience. The hypothesis was that there was a positive relationship and used surveys with a scale to measure EI. The results of the study found that there was a positive relationship between EI and work experience, as well as various parts of EI that affected success in school, specifically with GPA. This makes perfect sense because overall if people are able to identify emotions within others and themselves they will be more successful at work.

Emotional Intelligence and its effects on industrial and educational settings was not always a popular topic even though it had been around for hundreds of years. The birth of the popularity of EI really came about after a book by Daniel Goleman called Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ became popular in the mid 1990s. Goleman (1995) stated that EI can be “as powerful, and at times more powerful, than IQ.” It was then recognized that it plays a very large role in the success of students and employees alike (Shipley, Jackson, and Segrest, 2010). EI is becoming more popular as more studies explore the link between people with a high score and their achievements compared to those who score lower. As these results become more well-known there will most likely be more evidence produced over the coming years to develop a strong link between increased EI scores with a higher success rate among students and employees.

EI also plays a large role in group and team settings. Elizabeth and Wolff (2008) conducted a study on military personnel to determine the affects of EI. 349 members of an aircrew and maintenance workforce took part which made up 81 different teams. Also there were 70 leaders of the groups and 73 managers, in which supervised the leaders. The participants were given surveys to distinguish levels of EI. The study determined that EI not only affects group performance on an individual level but also found that the group leader’s EI will contribute to the overall success of a team as well. This study identified the importance of a team member being able to recognize their own emotions but also how imperative it is for a leader to be able to identify emotions in not only themselves, but in the team members as well, in order to be effective.

EI diagnostic tools could be used by managers to help determine which employees may be better dealing with different clients. For example, some employees are more emotionally stable would be better of dealing with clients that are more emotionally unstable to help even the tone. Also, these such tools could be used to help identify teams and determine which groups would work better together.

 

Locus of Control Assessment

Another diagnostic instrument that was used over the course of this semester was the Locus of Control (LOC). After taking the assessment I found that my LOC score was at 80. I felt that this seemed accurate, but was also a good score. I tend to have more of an internal style of looking at events and do not tend to blame outside factors for things that may go wrong. In fact sometimes I tend to internalize too much. Normally though, this is a good quality to have because at work I tend to take blame if something goes wrong and don’t make excuses. It is also a good quality for a manager to have because I will hold myself responsible and not let others place blame on external forces either.

Locus of control (LOC) is the characteristic that people have that explains their ideas about the things that happen to them in life and the control that they believe they have over these things. It was determined that LOC is related to many aspects in the work life such as how well employees perform, how they perceive their surroundings, relationships, attitudes, and their overall well-being at work. This study also dove deeper to look at the differences between work LOC and general LOC (Wang, et al., 2010). People with more of an internal LOC normally will not focus on how bad a teacher is or try to blame a bad manager on losing a job but instead will focus on what they did wrong and internalize more.

Christi, et al. (2003) conducted a study with regards to education and compared LOC in students enrolled in public schools compared to student enrolled in alternative schools. It was found that students in the alternative schools tended to have more of an external LOC. A lot of the kids in these alternative schools were put there because of issues with truancy or other behavioral issues. Also many of these students did have issues with problems at home that may be out of their control. Educators try to assist them with determining how to differentiate between factors that they can or cannot control and focus more on the consequences of certain behaviors to help them understand the control that they have over the actions that they choose.

Both of the LOC studies were interesting because it seems that work and education are both affected by it. When people have an external LOC they are more likely to place blame on coworkers and students are more likely to blame a bad teacher. To help fix this people need to do more self-reflection to determine what they could have done internally to produce a different outcome. It goes back to the old saying “my dog ate my homework” which would be externalizing, because really why did you let your dog get that close to your homework, or why did you leave it out? It is really an excuse and a way to place blame on someone or something else.

Managers could use this tool on employees to help coach. For example, some people tend to blame others so if these types of issues came up a manager would be aware that just because one employee is stating the other person contributed to their poor performance, a manager could come back to the results and dig a little deeper knowing the one employee tends to blame external factors. However, the opposite could be true as well, for example, a manager may place someone who scores high for feeling personally responsible in a leadership role. Most likely this person won’t blame the people in the group, but instead will try to personally ensure that things go well because they would be more likely to place blame on him or herself.

 

Tolerance of Ambiguity Test

Tolerance of ambiguity (TA) is another diagnostics tool that we explored. My score on this tool was a 39, which was comprised of three areas: novelty, complexity, and insolubility. The lowest score was in the insolubility area or the level to which you do or do not deal well with issues that do not have clear answers and pieces to the issue seem unrelated. My level of TA is sufficient for what my job entails because most of the issues that arise have a fairly clear path to solve them due to compliance and laws that require certain action. Typically, there are not a lot of problems that arise that would force me to deal with this type of vagueness. However, there is always room for improvement.

In a business setting, TA is becoming more beneficial as companies begin more work internationally and as the focus is leaning towards being able to develop and utilize information. Also many companies see change without always wanting it due to increased legislation and regulatory measures put in place. Oftentimes management must deal with issues that arise out of nowhere and need to be able to adapt quickly to incorporate new policies. Many decisions in business will revolve around TA and a person in that decision making role must be able to quickly adapt (Banning, 2003). The need for people who are able to tolerate change will increase as jobs shift to be more information-oriented.

DeRoma, Martin, and Kessler (2003) conducted a study that examined the relationship between TA and course structure through questionnaires given to the students. It was determined that there was a correlating relationship between a low TA in students and their value placed on class direction along with their levels of stress when there was not structure. Oftentimes when the teachers did not have a set schedule or agenda, students did not tend to do as well. This may explain why schools keep such a strict structure and tight schedule. Also it goes to show why curriculum and class schedules were developed in the first place.

TA plays a role in the workplace as well as in education. Endres (2009) did a study which examined the relationship between levels of TA in workers. It was found that low TA can lead to the lack of being able to make decisions, and higher levels of TA can bring success to those who need to adapt quickly, in a fast-paced company. The main point is that it is imperative that the TA levels that a person possesses coincide with the position that they are hired for. Success for both students and employees can be impacted by levels of TA. Teachers’ structure of classes and giving direction, as well as an employer’s changing environment can play a huge role in how someone will perform depending on their level of TA.

TA can be very helpful for managers to help determine who may or may not be best suited for certain positions. One example would be a virtual employee, because if someone does well with unclear directions they are probably going to be okay at home and away from other employees. However, if someone struggles with this sort of thing, they may need the ability to have someone close by to ask for direction and guidance. Another way that this would be a helpful tool for employers is by using this to help determine the level of supervision. If someone scores high on TA, they may not always need as much training and detailed instruction, because they will most likely be creative and solve the issue, without as much direction.

 

Conclusion

Overall, the diagnostic tools used this semester assisted me in learning more about myself and to identify areas where I have strengths and also areas that I could improve upon. One area that I definitely feel I could improve upon is my TA. Sometimes it is easy for me to get in a set routine and I tend to not like a lot of change. I also sometimes struggle if I am not given a clear set of directions. However, with an ever changing business environment it is important to be able to pull through and work to find a solution even if it does not present itself clearly.

The tools that were used in this semester all relate to educational and industrial scenarios at some given point. The one tool that seems may be the most helpful would be the MBTI because it explains someone’s individual preferences. In an educational setting and early on, the LOC may be most beneficial because the ability to internalize things that happen to someone is very important. In general, these tools provide some great insights to how someone will perform in both educational and industrial settings.

 

 

References

Banning, K. C. (2003). The effect of the case method on tolerance for ambiguity. Journal of Management Education, 27(5), 556-567.

Elizabeth, S. K., & Wolff, S. B. (2008). Emotional intelligence competencies in the team and team leader. The Journal of Management Development, 27(1), 55-75

Endres, M. L., Chowdhury, S., & Milner, M. (2009). Ambiguity tolerance and accurate assessment of self-efficacy in a complex decision task. Journal of Management and Organization, 15(1), 31-46

Gardner, W. L., & Martinko, M. J. (1996). Using the myers-briggs type indicator to study

managers: A literature review and research agenda. Journal of Management, 22(1), 45.

Hirsh, S. K. (1991). Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in organizations (2nd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

Kennedy, R. B., & Kennedy, D. A. (2004). Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in Career Counseling. Journal of Employment Counseling, 41(1), 38-44.

Myers, I. and Myers, P. (1995), Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type, Davies-Black  Publishing, Mountain View, CA.

Opt, S. K., & Loffredo, D. A. (2003). Communicator image and myers-briggs type indicator extraversion-introversion. The Journal of Psychology, 137(6), 560-8.

Shipley, N. L., Jackson, M. J., & Segrest, S. L. (2010). The effects of emotional intelligence, age, work experience, and academic performance. Research in Higher Education Journal, 9, 1-18.

Wang, Q., Bowling, N. A., & Eschleman, K. J. (2010). A meta-analytic examination of work and general locus of control. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(4), 761-768.

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