Let's start by thinking about what we mean by personality. The simplest definition is that it's the underlying pattern of thoughts and feelings that influence what we're likely to do. In practice, it frames our view of the world and shapes the way we'll probably behave across many different situations. Hundreds of studies over the last 50 years demonstrate that personality predicts job performance and work satisfaction; let alone many other life outcomes such as health, happiness, and even mortality!
Of course, it doesn't predict any of these things with perfect accuracy: how we react to events is influenced by the situation in which we find ourselves, and other factors like personal values. However, that being said, in a work context personality is a powerful indicator of the type of job in which you're likely to thrive. Ultimately it also affects the goals you set yourself, and thus the degree to which you'll grow and develop.
How well someone will actually perform in a job is a function of their knowledge, skills, ability, experience, interests, values, and personality; quite apart from a raft of other things like pay and status, and of course the work environment itself. The role of the hiring manager is to have an extremely clear idea of what they are looking for, and a critical appreciation of the attributes that are known to make someone successful — something that relies on a thorough job analysis.
As mentioned, there is considerable research linking personality with work performance, and with the requirements of specific jobs. This means that the "fit" between a candidate and the personality profile of a job can be established. This is a valuable data point, but it must be considered alongside other sources of information. It's not simply a selecting "in" or "out" sort of thing! This is because there are a range of personalities that can perform well in any given job, let alone the many other factors that need to be taken into account.
Indeed the best way to use personality data is to sharpen interview questions so they have meaning in the context of the job. For example, a role requires enormous attention to detail and the candidate appears to be low on conscientiousness. In this case, questions could focus on whether the candidate is aware this is an issue and whether they have done anything to remedy it. The latter is important as it's essential to distinguish between those who always go about things in the same automatic way and others who have worked out techniques for successfully "overriding" their personality.
The use of personality data to "explore" job fit is also reflected in its application at the attraction stage of the hiring process. Just as the interviewer can use the information to ask better interview questions, if potential candidates receive online feedback early in the hiring process, they can think about whether they're a good match for the role. Also, even if they're ultimately unsuccessful, they've received valuable information about themselves. This is good for them, and good PR for the hiring organization.
At Traitify we know that personality has a unique role to play in recruitment. We also know that treating candidates like customers is the key to bridging the gap between attraction and hiring. And whichever way it falls for an individual, the sense they have of being dealt with in a mindful way is the key to maintaining your organization's reputation.
Most employers rely on the performance of teams for business success. It's true, teams may be loosely structured, assembled for specific projects, or be virtual in nature; but whatever their structure, whether they achieve their goals is always going to rely on collaborative working.
It's also the case that whatever the function of the team, mapping the personalities of its members is the first step in understanding how it might operate. Indeed, surfacing the personalities of the different team members is the only way to appreciate the different perspectives each can bring — and how these affect trust, cooperation, and productivity.
In addition, recent research suggests diverse teams make smarter decisions. Teams that are composed of members with different personalities — and from different genders, ages, backgrounds, and cultures — are far more likely to remain objective. This is because facts will be re-examined, and potential biases and "groupthink" identified, leading to a lower probability of faulty thought processes.
From a Traitify perspective, we have developed a unique way of linking team structure and purpose with the different aspects of personality. This provides a method for "auditing" existing teams, and for constructing new ones. It also helps team members work on ways of collaborating with each other in a "psychologically safe" fashion.
Lastly, teamwork would be impossible without effective and meaningful communication. And that's why we've also produced a communication guide for employees. This contains personalised tips that are linked directly to their personality profile. Because, guess what? Personality drives the why, when, and how of communication with other people.
There's a model in marketing called "SOGI". This suggests that to understand the impact of an initiative you need to think about it in terms of society, organization, group, and individual. Looked at from a hiring perspective, both "society" and businesses have an obvious interest in spotting potential, providing opportunities, and getting the right people into the right jobs. Also, when it comes to the bottom-line, making sure teams are working well is a clear business imperative. But what about inspiring the individual?
It probably comes as no surprise that the "intrinsic" aspects of a person's motivation like the need for autonomy, wanting to feel competent, and requiring meaningful connection to other people are all mediated by personality. In this way personality is often the driver of self-growth and of engagement at work.
Trying to decide what helps employees become engaged is often seen by employers as the "Holy Grail" of staff development. Frankly, it's also pretty important for employees, as healthy engagement is at the root of job satisfaction. It's certainly a complex mix of forces, but putting it all together — motivation, personality, and engagement — provides a springboard for personal growth.
To this end, Traitify has created a motivational tool called Engage. This addresses the topic of how to give employees personal and actionable personality insights. The sort of snapshots that let people see how they can tap into the power of their personality. The tool uses a brief personality description, a short video, and a series of ‘success skills' tabs — superfast ways of dealing with stress, communicating with colleagues, motivating yourself, and working in a team.
Likewise, we've also designed a development resource managers can use to support their employees. It takes an employee's profile, providing the same quick reference points, but this time lets the manager explore personality through the lens of common cognitive biases. It explains how a personality might be influenced by a particular bias, and then it provides a series of short exercises that can be used with that employee to unpack things further.
For example, we often make assumptions about what other people know. This is called the ‘false consensus effect," and by definition, it affects communication and understanding. Looking at this in a work context can provide a valuable learning point — for employees and managers alike!
In summary, personality data can be used across the whole employee lifecycle. When handled sensitively it provides insights that are difficult to obtain in any other way, and important clues about how to motivate and engage staff so they can perform at their best.
Traitify builds assessments and guides that help attract, select, and engage employees based on their personalities. To learn more, connect with Traitify.