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Cracking the Personality Code Paperback – 14 Jan 2009

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About the Author

Dana Borowka, MA has over 25 years of experience in business consulting. He has an undergraduate degree in Human Behavior and a master's degree in Clinical Psychology. He speaks nationally to Vistage International and other CEO peer groups, associations, corporations and trade organizations. Ellen Borowka, MA has an undergraduate degree in Sociology and a master's degree in Counseling Psychology. She co-founded Lighthouse Consulting Services with Dana in 1994 to provide programs to help companies increase executive and employee productivity and well being.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 14 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The only thing Cracked are the authors 14 April 2010
By Jerry P. Brook - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let me begin by saying that I strongly feel that every review should start with a statement of disclosure.

I am not a trained or practicing Psychiatrist nor Psychologist. I have no affiliation with any company that profits in any way from the hiring or testing of employees.

I have worked with computer automation at three different Fortune 500 companies. So why did I read this book? Because I am interested in computer based decision models. I believe that a persons personality directly affects their choices, that is their decisions, in life.

At this point you may be questioning my ability to review this type of material. I believe that would be a typical "Kill the messenger" type of response. Rather than examining the message for relevance and accuracy it is easier to discredit the messenger rather that deal with the message. Realize that the only way that you know my background is because I told you. I could have just as easily posed as someone with expert knowledge to bolster my review.

I normally do not write reviews. However after reading all of the glowing reviews I felt compelled to give my humble opinion.

On with the review:
Generally the book was disorganized. The author/s jumped around from topic to topic with no apparent logic. My guess would be this is the personality of one who is more creative as apposed to structured. I will review the book as read, due to that fact my review may also seem disorganized.

The book was vague. Many of the terms were relative and therefore left to interpretation. Of course I do not believe that personality profiling is an exact science. I do believe that books on the subject can be clear and concise in their terminology. The implication is that in order to make sense of this black magic you will need to hire a trained professional.

There are only a very few actual studies sited. There are probabilities given with no statistical basis. Basically the book seems to be based on anecdotes with a healthy dose of pop psychology.

The first five chapters appeared as more of a sales brochure for the services of the authors. These chapters are aimed specifically at hiring of executives. I understand that executives are critical employees however I feel that it is short sited not to examine any other job functions. I expected a more thorough examination of all employees as they all effect a companies performance.

I got the impression of the company verses the employee attitude. As all people, yes even the CEO, are employees I expected a more symmetrical view of the interplay between personalities.

Many items that are the responsibility of the employer are simply glossed over.

There was no personality to personality cross reference maps.

There was much made about using at least twelve (12) personality types, yet no clear list of which twelve (12)? There was actually what I considered conflicting information. There are references to the much studied and widely accepted "Big Five" personality traits, but that is not twelve. The authors reference Cattell's sixteen (16) personality factor model. Apparently they didn't know that reanalysis of the correlation matrices used by Cattell did NOT confirm his findings. Instead Tupes and Christal found "five relatively strong recurrent factors and nothing more of consequence".

There are numerous references to the need for 164 questions in order to detect false responses (read lies). Yet there is no statistical basis for this magic number. With out knowing the test used or the accuracy required no such claim can be made. Suppose a DNA test of the applicant can determine personality type would we still need 164 questions? Of course not. The more accurate a measure needs to be the more time and effort to make it. In other words if you only need 90% accuracy you would need less time, effort and yes fewer questions. I doubt that every position requires 100% accuracy. So without a clear statement of accuracy no one can know how many questions are needed. It seems to me that the authors are touting their specific tests or methods.

Then there is the old "ask a personality probing question" technique. Such as "What was a problem you had and how did you resolve it"? Any person who has interviewed for a job in the last ten years is familiar and hopefully prepared for this. Take a few moments to pretend to think of your response and then rattle it off. Of course different personality types will see different things as problems and different outcomes as solutions. So what does this actually tell the interviewer? Nothing really. What does it tell the job applicant? That this company is so poorly run that they expect you to be dealing with constant problems. After all if they knew what they were doing why would they be having so many problems? If the problems are happening over and over again why don't they fix them? Most real problems can not be solved by a single individual. Good management pulls a team of employees with the necessary strengths together in order to resolve problems.

Some of the screening criteria is simply ridiculous. When it comes to references, I don't know of anyone who is going to take thirty minutes for someone who doesn't work for them anymore. In this day and age most people are afraid of the legalities of saying the wrong thing. The authors recommend not just calling references but asking the references for other references. Basically they suggest an FBI security clearance.

In chapter six they introduce a ten question test to find out if you are a connected leader. Of course this conflicts with the guidance given in the first five chapters of only using tests that have been properly prepared and statistically verified. Per the test instructions, of scoring 1 point for every "I don't know" answer, the minimum possible score would be ten (10). However the classifications start at zero (0). This could just be a typographical error. Personally the groupings seem incorrect to me. I also have an issue with the fact that the "Never" response is classified better than "I don't know". Never doing something indicates malice of forethought. In this particular situation statistically this could, well, never happen. This would actually indicate that you are an intentionally disconnected leader. Where as "I don't know" would indicate that you simply aren't attentive.

The book then becomes mainly reprints, with permission of course, of other books.

At one point they reference the Kubler-Ross model known as the "Five Stages of Grief". The authors state that Kubler-Ross claimed the stages do not necessarily come in order nor are they all experienced by all individuals. Then the authors claim that all people will go through the five stages of grief cycle. Did they even read their own previous paragraph?

Finally the book ends with the importance of communication. This is, in my opinion, the most important item and yet it is treated as an after thought. Communication is directly related to personality. Your personality dictates how you communicate, which is a major part of how you interact with others. Therefore it should have been introduced first and emphasized often. You can not structure questions for perspective new hires, interpret their responses or interact with anyone in your company properly without knowing how these different people communicate.

So my advice is save your money.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Beyond Assessments 26 Feb. 2009
By Jim Tenuto - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As president and owner of Renaissance Executive Forums, a peer-advisory board service for entrepreneurially business owners and top executives, I have worked with the Borowkas and have become a raving fan of the 16PF assessment.

"Cracking the Personality Code" is more than a thorough examination of this highly detailed and informative personality assessment. The book also delivers a history of personality assessments and explores the science behind them. The book also delves into brain science and psychology, areas where the two authors--sporting masters degress in psychology--wade with confidence.

A pleasant surprise was the chapter on dealing with problem employees, first by identifying patterns of behavior and communication, and then offering sound, practical methods of dealing with them.

My clients who have used the 16PF instrument have received tangible, actionable insights into prospective hires or their senior leadership teams.

And, unlike many business books where one important chapter is surrounded by 200 pages of filler, "Cracking the Personality Code" is 110 pages of pointed solid observations and advice.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Motivating 23 Jan. 2009
By Josh - Published on
Format: Paperback
As a recent MBA grad with an entrepreneurial spirit, I read this book and it really helped me come up with a more concrete road map in how I intend on structuring my own business. I highly recommend this book to not only senior executives, but young entrepreneurs such as myself that could use some great advice in order to avoid many hiring / retention mistakes.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Handbook for Hiring and Managing 2 May 2009
By David A. Krubsack - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book shows how the insight gained from in-depth work style and personality assessment is used to improve both the odds when hiring individuals into a team and the interpersonal communication when managing the team.

The authors detail the significant cost of hiring just one wrong person. Presenting research findings, a new hire failure is rarely due to a technical match but rather due to behavioral reasons. For example, they can't accept feedback, are unable to understand emotions, lack motivation, or have the wrong temperament for the job.

The first half of the book shows that a properly selected personality assessment can improve the hiring odds. The science and detailed history of personality testing is reviewed including effectiveness and legal decisions. The hiring process is further detailed with the top 10 hiring mistakes and how to avoid them, finding the right references, comprehensive background checks, and using the personality profile to fit an applicant to the job.

Management can also be enhanced from the insight gained from the same in-depth work style and personality assessment. Interwoven throughout the book is the theme that people don't simply perform an isolated job, they interact with other people who have different personalities and these different personalities are needed to create a well rounded and properly functioning team.

The management half of the book starts with a chapter on understanding yourself as a leader and connecting with your employees. Subsequent chapters discuss applying personality assessment to helping employees transition when they aren't fitting in their current position, managing difficult people who are staying in their current position, becoming vision focused to translate intention into reality, and converting destructive stress into healthy, productive stress resulting in emotional engagement which can transform a culture.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Best Protection Against Firing Poorly... 28 Sept. 2009
By Mark Goulston - Published on
Format: Paperback
is to hire well.

"Cracking the Personality Code" is your best way to accomplish that. The Borowkas have provided a real service here to help any business from start-up to early stage to middle market and beyond increase the chances for hiring success.

Easy to read and easier to use, no one who does hiring should do so without this book as a guide.

Mark Goulston
- Tribune syndicate career advice columnist
- author, Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone
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