Management + Leadership

Personality tests as a strategy for team building

Team building is essential during dental school. Building a cohesive unit that recognizes and is perceptive of each other’s strengths and weaknesses allows a team to successfully move forward, while performing at a high level. Furthermore, understanding each other’s preferences, ways of reacting under pressure or responses to challenging situations allows a team to play to each other’s strengths and determine how to overcome each other’s weaknesses.

Personality tests have gained momentum in the last few years as people work to learn more about themselves and their preferences. By no means should major decisions be made on the results of a personality test; instead, they can be used as an enjoyable team-building activity, both in dental school and later on in the workplace.

At the end of my first year of dental school, in one of our professional development seminars, all the students in my class took the DiSC assessment, which “provides a common language people can use to better understand themselves and those they interact with — and then use this knowledge to reduce conflict and improve working relationships.” The goal of taking this test was to open conversation about our different personalities and to help us learn more about our assets and limitations when working in a team, so that our transition to assisting in clinic our second year would be smoother.

DiSC stands for: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. According to the DiSC Profile website, the assessment is effective because it improves teamwork, raises self-awareness, manages a team more effectively and makes conflict more productive, therefore allowing a team to move forward with less conflict.

Per the website, those with “D personalities” tend to focus on accomplishing results and are direct and confident; those with “i personalities” tend to have an influence on others and are strong in persuasion; those with “S personalities” tend to be sincere, cooperative and dependable; and those with “C personalities” tend to hold competency, accuracy and quality in their work as a strength.

Understanding the qualities of each personality in the DiSC test was beneficial for my class of 64 students to grow together. After we took this assessment and received our personality profiles, we were sorted into groups based on our profile to discuss our thoughts on our personality styles in a small group and then together as a class. The conversations that followed shared how we thought our personalities matched the styles we received and how they did not.

In addition, my peers and I shared anecdotes about situations where we noticed ourselves behaving in ways that reflected our styles and how knowing some of the traits that aligned with our personality styles could help us thrive with our peers on the clinic floor. These conversations were eye-opening and informative. We left that seminar feeling like we understood each other better and were now more perceptive of each other’s behaviors and actions.

Assessments such as the DiSC profile can be used in dental schools to help students learn more about each other and facilitate a team-building environment. Similar assessments include the Myers-Briggs test or the Enneagram test, both of which allow people to learn more about their preferences, strengths and weaknesses; these can be used to encourage team building as well.

As we all try to learn more about ourselves, we should also take the time to learn about each other, as this ensures a stronger team foundation and will allow for more efficiency as a team in school or in the workplace.

~Joan Daniel, New England ’22, Chapter Second Delegate, District 1 Assistant Editor

Joan Daniel

A Massachusetts native, Joan Daniel is currently a student at the University of New England (UNE) in Portland, Maine. She's an active member of her chapter and loves photography, traveling, spending time with family and friends, and trying new coffee shops.

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1 Comment

  1. Awesome article! I didn’t really grasp the concept and benefits of the assessment until my first years of practice. I hope all students can recognize the power of this not only understanding how team members and patients communicate but especially how we as providers perceive and react to the world around use!

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