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Ep 16: Personality Tests: A Scientific Method To Contractor Team Building – Dr. Ken Keis

How to intentionally manage personalities in teams
How to tap into your natural predisposition
Why the way you see yourself is not how your peers perceive you
What to do if a good employee wants to quit
Age old question – Enhance strengths or level up weaknesses?
How to increase performance in an already high performing team

Watch Episode 16 of the Contractor Evolution ShoW

Listen to Episode 16

Read a Summary of Episode 16

So, as you have probably realized, we are in a people-driven industry.  

It doesn’t matter what kind of services you provide, or what kind of buildings you work on or fix. At the end of the day, you are trading people’s time for money.  

AI isn’t plumbing a house or installing a roof (YET)! 

The truth is we succeed or fail by how well our people perform. 

Managing people is HARD. There are so many dynamics at play when we are dealing with multiple, complex personalities. Getting everything to vibe at a high level is even harder.

These dynamics are at play in your business right now, whether you choose to equip yourself with the tools to navigate them or not. So you might as well put some intentionality into how you structure your roles and your team to succeed. 

This is why we brought on the show Dr. Ken Keis, who holds a PhD in Leadership and Management and is the president of CRG. His work has had a noticeable impact on our members contracting businesses so we’d love to share his insights with you.

The insights and wisdom gained from Ken’s tools allow entrepreneurs to build better teams and get more out of them. In this Episode, Ken teaches us about Personal Styles and why you, as a contractor, need to understand them.  

Why are personality styles so fundamental to leadership?

When we pressed Dr. Keis on this he says, “Every single person on the planet has personal styles right? The reason that it’s so important for any business to understand personalities (especially in the contracting space) is that there are a lot of relationships happening…and why wouldn’t I want to manage that intentionally and deliberately so that I could optimize performance, get the right people in the right jobs and build relationships in a positive way?

"Why wouldn't I want to manage [Personal Styles] intentionally and deliberately so that I could optimize performance, get the right people in the right jobs and build relationships in a positive way?

You can’t fight personality styles

It’s pretty clear that people have a disposition to act a certain way. There are some people who are always going to show up late, and then there are those who are always on time, even if they need to trek through a blizzard to make it happen.

You can have 2 siblings from the same home, same upbringing, and still they will be different. It’s because we are naturally wired at birth differently. The research shows that an individual’s personal style stays consistent throughout their lifetime. Now, they may mature, and learn, and grow, but they won’t radically change the way they interact with their surroundings.

There was a study done by Talentsmart, asking, “What percentage of people will realize their full potential if they DON’T know their personal style?” The answer – 2%

So there’s no point in trying to alter someone’s personality to fit a role, you won’t ever get their best work out of them. You either need to adapt a role to fit the personality or find a role that is better suited to a person’s personal style.

After chatting with Dr. Ken we have a 8 takeaways.


8 ways to leverage personalities in your contracting business


1. You shouldn’t always hire people you like 

A mistake that contractors often make is hiring people they like, because those people are like them. 

The reality is that you often need personalities and styles that are opposite to you. They may be your number one irritant, but they are what’s needed to bring balance to the team. A team never gets far when they all have the same style because they develop blind spots.


2. You need to assess yourself

There was a study done by Dr. Tasha Eurich who wrote the best selling book INSIGHT. She asked the question, “What percentage of people are self aware?” In other words, they know how they lead, they know how they come across to customers, they know how they come across to others on their team or in their personal networks. 

95% of the participants in the study believed that how they saw themselves is how other people experience them. 

However, when the participants’ peer network was asked how they saw the participant, there was only a 10% congruence between how their peers saw them and how they saw themselves. 

Which is why it’s so important to evaluate yourself so that you can be more in alignment with how the world sees you. Through this self awareness you are able to begin to influence how you show up in interactions that shape your credibility in the world.


3. Bake evaluation into your work culture

Just because you worked out once in 2005 doesn’t make you fit. 

It’s similar when evaluating personality styles. You need to revisit them frequently in order to understand yourself and your team and continue to become more effective as individuals and as a team.

It’s not enough just to test the leaders either. You need to understand every person in the organization if you expect to see an impact on the performance results of the business.

Every employee should assess themselves coming into the company, and you should set a rhythm to re-visit styles and roles on a regular basis to refine the efficiency of the organization.

When you or a team member understands not only your style, but the style of the people you lead, then you have the ability to put aside your self-centered needs and meet the needs of the person being led. What ends up happening is that the person being led feels listened to and fulfilled and they will work to help you fill your needs.


4. Know your personal style so you can respectfully say ‘no’

There will always be parts of your role that you don’t like doing. However, knowing what you are intrinsically good at, and what you aren’t, allows you to respectfully turn down roles that revolve around your weaknesses.

For instance, you might have a great sales person, but they may not be detail oriented or love organization. If that’s the case, they are more likely to thrive in a people facing role than be promoted to a sales manager position. 

In the same thread, if the sales manager is self aware, they would respectfully decline a sales manger role that requires a lot of paperwork, scheduling and planning because although it may initially come with a pay raise, they would be miserable and ineffective in the role.


5. Focus on your strengths and be aware of your weaknesses

Age old question – Do you foster your strengths or level up your weaknesses? 

Dr Ken says:

“For the most part your greatest strength can also be your greatest weakness if you’re not in charge of it. So if I’m driven, I’m decisive, and I’m goal-oriented but I treat my staff impatiently and I can temper that weakness then yes, work on the weakness.

On the other hand I’m not detail oriented so you’re never going to make me an auditor…ever.

The danger is when people don’t understand this they get guilty. They shame themselves. They say, “If I would just apply myself, if I just had more willpower, if I tried harder I’ll get the results they are asking for.” 

Now it doesn’t mean that work isn’t hard but if there’s not some kind of inspiration, not some kind of energy that you get from the work that you do, then you’re probably in the wrong spot. That may be from a purpose point of view but also from a style point of view.”

In short, make sure the majority of your responsibilities play to your strengths.


6. Use personality analysis to bring the right kind of people into your team

Hiring an employee without getting them to take a personality test is like going to the doctor, asking what your blood pressure is, and without putting a cuff on they ask you a few questions and then say, “Hmm, you seem like a 110/70.” 

If we don’t accept that kind of behaviour from medical professionals then why should we expect it in a decision as big as the hiring process?

Most interviewers will have some kind of opinion of the candidate within 7-15 seconds and the rest of the interview is spent re-affirming their initial impressions so they can rationalize their choice for the team.

The first step in hiring should be to take the time to understand what the role needs from a personality point of view. Get clear on the roles and responsibilities of the position internally first, then ask what personality style would be the best fit for the position. This allows you to market for the right person, and ask questions related to their personality as opposed to their skillset.

It’s not that skillset is not important, it’s that you can teach skills, but you can’t change personality.


7. Leverage the 3 skills that leaders need to be successful

  1. Self Awareness – they understand how they show up and their strengths and weaknesses
  2. Self Management – They are self aware and choose to self manage an alternative behavior when the scenario dictates it.
  3. A deep understanding of other people – they understand the needs of others and are able to set aside their own ambitions in the short term to align a team member’s needs with those of the organization.

8. Fine tune performance culture by allowing your team to evaluate you.

You want to create a culture where everyone owns their negative traits, which includes you as a leader.

Dr. Ken learned from Dr. Marshall Goldsmith (The world’s foremost executive coach) that high performance culture really came down to 1 simple trick which was feedback.

If you want to do this for yourself, get a third party to confidentially ask each member of your team what you do well, what you don’t do well, and what you can do to improve your performance.

Then, when feedback is read to you, all you respond with is, “Thank You.”

You don’t try to defend yourself, you just accept it.

Then, after your feedback, you need to regularly ask your team what you can do to improve your performance.

Through this method, you lead by example but you also create an environment of consistent self-improvement.


At the end of the day, what we’ve learned (and what we do at BTA) is that testing and understanding all the personalities on your team will dramatically impact the team dynamic and the output being produced. It’s a no brainer ROI and it only makes sense to make it part of your culture.

If you’d like to test yourself or your team with the PSI personality assessment that Dr. Ken Keis has developed you can find that here.

Benji Carlson

Benji Carlson

As the son of two proven entrepreneurs, Benji’s spirit for self-starting business runs deep. Since he was a young teen, Benji has been starting and running profitable small businesses; most recently culminating in a highly successful 4-year career as a franchisee with College Pro Painters. Benji’s enormous heart and passion for people is what drove him to produce over $1,000,000 in revenue while taking the highest quality care of his employees and customers. He was consistently acknowledged for having the most productive staff in the company, while leading more junior franchisees to fulfill their potential. Benji’s uncanny ability to find the right people and put them in the right place make him a natural fit for Breakthrough Academy’s Assessment Team.

Upon finishing up his career with College Pro, Benji set out on the ultimate victory lap: a nine-month transcontinental motorcycle trip from Canada to Peru.

Benji lives in beautiful Kelowna BC. During the summer you’ll usually find him on two wheels: either bombing down a trail on his mountain bike or cruising the pavement on his motorcycle. When the snow falls, he escapes to the mountains for steep and deep powder.

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