By Shay Berman, CEO and founder of Digital Resource

DiSC, MBTI, 16PF. Though they just look like random characters strung together, they're actually acronyms that could be the key to boosting your management strategy.

They refer to personality assessments, which have always been popular resources in the recruitment process. But developing an understanding of your employees' personalities can also go a long way after they've been hired.

Personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator provide a peek into how employees are likely to interact, make decisions and approach problems. You can leverage these insights to become a better, more effective manager and cultivate an environment where employees are productive, loyal and satisfied.

Putting Personality to the Test

Personality tests are not aptitude tests. Beyond determining whether a person is qualified for a particular role, personality assessments take a more holistic approach. These questionnaires formulate a profile based on traits and behaviors and paint a picture of an employee's communication preferences, work habits and temperament.

I've used a number of different personality assessments with great success. Two of my favorites are the DiSC profile, which evaluates our client-facing staff, and the 16Personalities test for our staff that isn't client-facing. The DiSC profile evaluates individuals based on dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness, using those to highlight the respondent's priorities, values and likely behaviors. The 16Personalities test uses five traits to categorize people and predict their attitudes and work habits.

These assessments can help managers get a better sense of their employees' weaknesses and motivators, which can help them properly train, develop and incentivize their staff. Personality assessments can also help you set employees up for success. By learning how they interact, you can create more cohesive teams. By knowing how they might react to stressful situations, you can better support them when the need arises. These assessments have the potential to provide all the information you need upfront.

Turning Insights Into Action

To find the best test for your organization, explore your options, and consider trying out a few. Ultimately, how you use the information will determine what results you need. Here are three ways that information can be used to manage employees more effectively.

1. Customized Communication

Communication is the cornerstone of a productive and collaborative workplace, and personality assessments offer valuable insights about communication styles. Some employees like things sugarcoated, and others might prefer a more direct approach. These assessments can help you avoid misunderstandings or hurt feelings.

Consider what the assessments tell you about how employees receive information; some will need an engagement component, like a required response, to ensure that they've gotten the message. Based on those results, employ multiple methods to ensure your staff understands your message. Then, think about how the information will be received (i.e., email, face to face, etc.), and tailor how you deliver it so it has its intended impact.

2. Meaningful Motivation

Motivating your team is a vitally important -- and difficult -- aspect of management because each employee responds best to different methods. With the right rewards or goals in place, your people will perform better, tapping into increased innovation and creativity. But if you use the wrong method, you'll likely get no result or even demotivation.

Personality assessments will reveal subtleties such as whether the most effective reward is praise or a raise. For example, did the test show that all your salespeople are competitive? If so, implement a contest of some kind involving milestones and various prizes. The key to maximizing motivational tools is to offer different incentives for each person.

3. Targeted Training

Finally, personality assessments can determine appropriate training for everyone on your team. Not only do they pinpoint areas for growth, but they also indicate how people learn best, which allows you to refine your training. Like communication and motivation, training is best when it's individually tailored.

Ideally, you should develop training to appeal to each of the three common learning styles: audio, visual and kinesthetic. For example, think about training your employees on a new piece of software. For audio learners, you might provide them with some kind of narration they can listen to and rewind. If your staff is mostly visual learners, you might have a presentation with written follow-up questions. And for kinesthetic employees, an active tutorial can give them hands-on instruction they need to best understand the new software.

Using personality assessments can help you gain a deeper understanding of your employees, which is the basis for stronger relationships. When you can better support your employees, it improves everyone's work and boosts morale. Ultimately, a personality assessment is one of your most useful leadership tools.

Shay Berman is the CEO and founder of Digital Resource, a full-service digital marketing agency located in South Florida.

Published on: Mar 15, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.