Julie Mitchell's CoachNotes



Personality tests at work: Beware of dumb decisions!

Want to avoid dumb hiring decisions? Slow down and learn to read personality test signs.

Want to avoid dumb hiring decisions? Slow down. Read personality tests carefully.

A front-page Wall Street Journal article on workplace personality testing inspired today’s post. I’ve been fascinated by this topic since my first MBTI assessment, in the early 1980s.

As a big fan of learning and growth through self-awareness, I love tools designed to reveal strengths and talents! I’m also a skeptic, wary of how people jump to conclusions about test results. Today’s WSJ article addresses problems with assessments used for hiring.

In service of better hiring decisions (and an excuse for using my photo, because I found the “dumb dogs” sign irresistible), I’ll share random thoughts on intelligent and dumb usage of personality tests. Continue reading



Is respectful communication at work an oxymoron?

I just received an invitation to a “respectful engagement at work” seminar. It sounds good and I admire the facilitator but I wonder whether it can make a difference. This is a disheartening thought because I lead workshops on respectful communication. What if my efforts result in nothing?

I suspect many who attend these seminars are: a) already converted (i.e., choir members seeking others with whom they may sing in tune, if only during a half-day workshop); or b) already disgruntled (i.e., people sent by well-meaning or clueless supervisors who believe respect may be taught in a workshop and/or who don’t create a climate for respect).

After studying and teaching interpersonal communication for decades, I’m familiar with specific speaking and listening skills that may contribute to more respectful collaboration. It’s difficult to put them into practice, and respectful engagement goes beyond using effective communication tips. In some situations, it probably seems not worth the effort.

So what’s behind my dampened enthusiasm? Have I lost respect for respect? I’ve built a career advocating positive personal and organizational change. I always believe things can be better and improvement happens one person at a time. But lately I’m experiencing a cynical — or perhaps more realistic — phase of doubting my ability to coach or teach about respect. We live in a cultural climate in which so many folks are stubbornly focused upon wanting others’ respect FIRST. Fewer people seem willing to take the first step by looking within or letting go of something to earn respect. Continue reading

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Make meetings meaningful: facilitate for results

Think about meetings you’ve attended, especially those you believed were a waste of time. Frustrations run high when you show up and nothing is accomplished.  An effective facilitator can transform “another useless meeting” into a productive experience. Continue reading

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Discernment, hiring practices, leadership, and Bill Gates

Something has bugged me since I first recognized that universities award advanced degrees to very smart people who may not be smart in making hiring or leadership decisions. I’ve been hired to help many folks who have exemplary academic backgrounds yet have a lot to learn about connecting with others as teachers, mentors, or leaders. Continue reading