gifts UN063

Self-Insight—the Gift That Keeps Giving

In this blog, Sarah McLellan talks about why building self-insight helps you and your teams inspire career decisions and make work meaningful.

This festive season, give someone the gift that keeps giving. Give the gift of self-insight…

Spotify has recently started giving its customers the gift of personalized feedback. In November, Spotify subscribers were informed of their ‘listening personality’, e.g. are you a ‘Replayer’ (someone who enjoys the same playlists, over and over) or a ’Fanclubber’ (fiercely loyal to specific artists, no matter what they produce). A clever approach. Instantly we are drawn in because we like to understand more about ourselves, and love receiving seemingly tailored insight and recommendations based on our own listening style.

The beauty of the approach for Spotify is they can then easily classify their subscribers into 16 distinctive types, to try and hook them for longer or extend their subscription to new features, based on personalized suggestions. Or perhaps bring together communities of music listeners, based on their assigned type. Retailers have been doing this for years—collating data on shopping habits and personalizing marketing and discounts based on individual shopping habits (Tesco Clubcard was one of the first examples of this in the UK). Spotify has gone one step further and given something back, by letting their customers know which of the 16 listening personality types they are. Now, even my taste in music has personality!

The Spotify customer base is about to embark on an enlightening journey millions of people have experienced before in the world of work. The Spotify personality types have been ‘inspired’ by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). A globally used measure of personality type intended to help people better understand themselves through identifying their ‘personality type’ and to curate future career steps based on the insight provided.

The Spotify personality types have been ‘inspired’ by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the globally used measure of personality type intended to help people better understand themselves.

How building self-insight can help you and your teams

While an often hotly-debated personality tool for its questionable test credentials, the MBTI has survived the test of time because it helps people understand themselves, provides a window into appreciating other peoples’ perspectives and behavioral drivers, and can help individuals feel part of something bigger—’ Now I know there are others who see things like me!’

The key to personality type is to use it in the way it is intended—to provide insight and inform understanding, not to make high-stakes decisions (who to hire or let go, for example) or base critical career decisions on in isolation. It is a great tool to guide reflection, and conversation and build team appreciation of differences and strengths when united.

If you have recently discovered your Spotify Listening Personality, don’t feel constrained to the 1 in 16 boxes you have been assigned. Don’t feel you can now only listen to music in-line with your style (even Mariah’s ‘All I want for Christmas’ will feel tired come January 1st) or even only share playlist suggestions with those of the same type as you! Use it as an opportunity to find more of what you like and when (e.g. when out walking, working, exercising), and to explore other tastes… Look at playlists, artists, and songs in the other types. Build an appreciation and share what you find out about yourself and music with friends and family.

And, if you want to give someone a gift that really keeps giving, for work and life, helps someone objectively and scientifically understand their personality style. In our hectic, ever-changing, pressured lives, the festive period offers a great moment of reflection. Understanding ourselves; when we are at our best; what drives us; and how we interact with others, can make life clearer, work meaningful, and inspire decisions and next-step career moves (not just a new playlist).

Get accurate self-insight alongside personalized feedback with SHL’s OPQ. Contact us for more details!

headshot sarah mclellan


Sarah McLellan

Sarah is a business psychologist who spends her days seeking to understand and optimize the power of people to help individuals and organizations flourish. As Director of European Professional Services at SHL, she’s responsible for an international team who design talent solutions to help solve business challenges for hundreds of companies around the world. Sarah has been partnering with organizations for over 15 years, consulting across talent acquisition and talent management. She is passionate about optimizing the role people science can play in shaping the future of work.

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