If the face fits

Published in Accounting and Business

Personality profiling is widely used by accountancy firms when recruiting and developing staff, but is it just a fad or a genuine way to get the best out of finance professionals?

Personality profiling dates back to antiquity. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates defined four ‘humours’ – air, earth, fire and water – and argued that the interaction between these was what defined human temperament.

But the birth of modern personality profiling didn’t occur until the 1920s, when Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung identified that people have a natural predisposition to act in a certain manner. This, he said, is based on whether they are extrovert or introvert, whether they rely more heavily on their intuition or on concrete information, and whether they base their decisions on empathy or on facts.

Jung’s thinking has heavily influenced the development of personality profiling methods over the years. In particular, it underpins the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers – as well as the Keirsey Temperament Sorter.

Today, personality profiling is used by organisations of all sizes as a way of improving business performance. The theory is that employers can help their staff to achieve more if they understand how they like to work and what they base their decisions on. So employers use profiling when they are hiring, building teams and developing their people.

Profiling also benefits individuals because it enables them to better understand both themselves and how they can interact with others to achieve positive results. And this applies as much to finance professionals as it does to anyone else.

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