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Foundations of Individual Behaviour: Employee personality and engagement.

Some theory first…

…revise pages 214-217 and pages 219-224 of Chapter 8 briefly.  Then, have a look at this article describing personality clashes at work, and check out the innovative way that the US-based exaqueo gets to know employees so they can improve organisational performance. 

So, to summarise…

Conflicts between team members are unavoidable, and a recent article predicts conflict based on personality types.  In this article, only four personality types are described, along two dimensions: people and task orientation, as well as extraversion versus introversion.  This produces the following four types: dominant, influential, conscientious, and steady.  The article argues that opposites clash: dominant with steady, and conscientious with influential. 

But here’s the thing, personality is usually far more complex than just a 2x2 matrix.  Even one of the most common ways to measure personality, the Myers-Brigs Type Indicator (MBTI®), categorises people into 16 groups – with a 4x4 matrix, as the textbook shows.  This has spawned A LOT of research, and some scientists argue that a personality determined basic things, like reaction to eye contact.  But in addition to research confirming personality influences, you also have a lot of views that personality tests are, well, rubbish.  For example, how can you test the personality of a teenager, who hasn’t even finished developing his brain?  Research shows the brain doesn’t finish developing until well into people’s 20’s, and people keep on growing and changing throughout their lives.  So what good is a personality test?  Also, people can fake their answers, shape them to what the employer may like, score inconsistently over time – and so on. 

But how bad are they, really?  This is a chance for you to find out (if you haven’t already tried before).  There are two tests you can take today.  One scores your personality according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®), and the other one scores according to the Big Five model.  They take a little time to do, particularly if you are doing them insincerely…

Once you have completed the tests and the scores and descriptions are available to you, have a read through them to see to what extent you feel like they have captured your personality.

You can also explore Jung Career IndicatorTM and see what types of career they suggest you choose based on your personality type.  How do you feel about them?


In any case…

Seems like having a pleasant personality, or agreeable traits, will get you hired, but may also stop you from getting promoted.  You may be better highlighting different aspects of your personality at different career stages.  Now, who you are is not only your personality.  It is also your passion, your habits, your interests.  The US-bases exaqueo has realised that, and has been using a holistic approach to understanding employees to improve their work engagement.  For example, by getting to know what most employees’ relationships outside of work were like, exaqueo found that the toxic culture in a company was because the relationships at work were “more of the same” for employees, rather than having something different to what they deal with outside of work.  This insight would have not been revealed with traditional engagement and satisfaction surveys. 

Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • Participants’ experience during personality testing
  • Participants’ concurrence with the results of personality tests
  • Participants’ concurrence with suggested careers
  • Difference and similarities between the different personality testing tools
  • Employees’ personality aspects versus a holistic view of them

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. How did you feel during personality testing?  How would you feel if had to take one of these tests as part of a job recruitment process?  Would you keep your answers genuine?
  2. How did you feel about the results of the tests?  Did you agree with them?  Did you agree with Tieger’s suggestions for how to manage your type?  Why or why not?
  3. Could you have achieved a different result if your answers were slightly different?  What do you think of the accuracy of these tests?
  4. How do you feel about the careers suggested to you?  Can you relate to any of these suggestions?
  5. How the two test results compare?  Which one would you prefer to use if you needed to recruit people to work with you?  Why?
  6. How much of the whole “you” do you think the personality tests captured?  Do you think there are aspects missing, which may be relevant to your employer, like the ones exaqueo aspired to uncover?