Why employees at Dixon Schwabl put their entire firm a Myers Briggs–type personality test.
Companies can take on a life of their own, and strengthening the culture sometimes requires examining the business's collective preferences and quirks. At Dixon Schwabl, a $21.6 million advertising firm in Victor, New York, employees assess their company's culture by giving the firm an annual personality test, as if it were a human being.
When CEO Lauren Dixon first conducted this exercise, which was created by the organization Companies Are People, Too, her staff concluded that Dixon Schwabl was too deadline-driven. The company remade the culture to allow more time to achieve the highest-quality results; in the 14 years since, employees have made numerous small tweaks. Dixon says the exercise grounds everyone in the company's values. Here are a few of the traits that employees ascribed to Dixon Schwabl's collective personality in a recent assessment.
• Creates a harmonious workplace that draws the best from people
• Can construct meaning and opportunity out of ambiguity and complexity
• Projects a desirable image through showmanship, salesmanship, and contagious enthusiasm
• Has good instincts about customer needs and motivators
• Tendency to drop current projects in favor of exploring new opportunities
• Occasionally will implement change for the sake of change, without sufficient rationale
• Could overly rely on intuition and fail to support it with critical analyses
• Teamwork, fun, innovation, and integrity
• Prefers face-to-face interaction
• Thinks out loud, and patter is rapid
• Flowing, exaggerated, and often redundant
Behavior During Conflict
• Prefers to avoid conflict at all costs if possible, but will defend values tenaciously
Approaches to Managing Change
• Will get everyone involved and encourage extensive discussion, often centered on possibilities
LEIGH BUCHANAN is an editor at large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture. @LeighEBuchanan