Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Workplace Voodoo

A while back my company forced me to take a PI, Predictive Index personality test, even though I've worked there and excelled for a year and a half and the request came out of the blue to me and no one else. I have strong feelings about these types of tests (which HR will correct and say "It's not a test, it's a tool to help maximize your effectiveness," yeah, whatever) and the boxes they can put people in, but at my company if you express strong feelings, ideas, thoughts, or even facts, you're considered "disrespectful." It's a place of conforming, white bread, milk toast, don't rock the status quo, kitten heels and shift dresses. 

However, my boss pushed the issue and forced me to take the PI test against my will. He actually hammered me to do it so much I started crying. I'm not a crier, so that gives readers an idea of how passionate these people are about the test even though they swear up and down they're not going to make any decisions about careers with the results. Hmmm...mixed message much? 

So apparently I was just mentally abused to take it for kicks. Makes sense.

I haven't gotten the results. Our HR department is big on forcing people to do things, but not so good at follow through on their end...oh the tales that I could tell...

I have a friend who used to administer this "survey." 
Here's what she suggested for me to do considering my own situation:

The first page of 86 adjectives is how you think people see you (ie: helpful, exciting, assertive, earnest, self-starter). The second page of adjectives is exactly the same and is how you see yourself. The point of these two pages combined is to see how much you feel you have to fake your personality, or in other words, how much you have to "mold" yourself to fit in.

They're measuring: dominance (control), extroversion, patience, and formality (precision) as well as decision making and responsiveness. 

Try to choose the same words on both pages. Choose the positive ones. Always choose "tolerant" and "respectful," it's just PC. Stay away from the "negative" words like "fussy, cynical, worrying, demanding, obstinate, passive, escapist." 

Think from the perspective of what an employer would want of you, not your friends and family (although at my company that means I'd only choose "conformist, docile, obedient," none of which I could bring myself to chose because I have some scruples left.... sheesh).

If you choose too few words they can't get results (heh ;), I chose 50% of the words keeping them the same on each page with 3 or 4 extra on one or the other, but for kicks I wish I'd checked every box of 172 adjectives. Too bad I was in a sobbing fit of rage after my boss' torment and wasn't thinking clearly.

Companies pay for this thing. Unbelievable. I bet most of the same companies howl, "The well is dry," when good employees ask for raises or bonuses. 

The results I've seen for others outside of my company (again, I wouldn't know since after all the fuss I never saw mine) shows a graph and a summary of your "self" or self-image (how others see you), "self concept" (how you see yourself), and a "synthesis" which is the two combined to show who you "really" are.

The report then lists your strongest behaviors: ie "Employee is strikingly expressive...." "Employee is extremely informal."

It gives a couple paragraph summary: ie: "Employee is a verbal communicator with a strong sense of urgency and impatient for results." (Because you can't tell that from working with someone and need a test to point it out.... pffft...)

Depending on the job, it may give the employee's management style (same babble as above but longer and not in bullet form), their sales style (babble babble babble), and finally management strategies for dealing with the employee (or in HR babble: "Management strategies to maximize the employee's effectiveness and productivity,") ie: "Give the employee freedom from repetition, give the employee technical challenges."

What the employer sees that the employee does not, I'm not 100% certain, but for every "he's talkative" that's shown to the employee, has to be a "doesn't listen" for the employer, and every "broadly focused" shown to the the employee has to have a "doesn't pay attention to details" on the employer side. 

I've read 14 results online that strangers have posted, and although each is slightly different, 13 of the 14 could be me, and that 1 oddball must be the shiest person on the planet who can barely face other humans (or a fake test). It's like reading every magazine horoscope for each sign and seeing yourself. It's like a Facebook survey, or that Dr. Phil "Know Yourself" online quiz where everyone pretty much sounds the same despite scoring differently; and totally different than the Jung-based Myers-Briggs test which I've taken and never sounds like me.

And after all the drama and yelling companies do, who knows....maybe they stick you in a position you love or hate, promote you, fire you, do something awesome or devious, but swear up and down for legal purposes that they never will. It's a bad economy, we're all just at the whim of these places, so whatever. 

I've looked in to the legality of these tests, and except in CA companies can pretty much make you do ALMOST anything once you're employed. However, if you've worked somewhere awhile and you're made to take the test and you're dismissed anytime afterward you can have a lawsuit stating that it was due to the test.

Anyway, hopefully you don't have to take one of these ridiculous tests (go away PI salesman that's all over the web defending this crap---there's no place to leave comments here...go find another way to feed your family), but if you do, at least you know what to expect.

Page 1: The way you are expected to act by others:

 Page 2: The way you see yourself/ believe you really are (same adjectives as page 1):