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Foundations of Individual Behaviour: Personality and Emotional Intelligence

Some theory first…

…revise pages 217-222 and pages 223-226 of Chapter 8 briefly. 

Some businesses will favour personality over education, skills, and experience.  Personality can be the root cause behind the paralysis of entire national systems, like the Australian taxation office.  When two top-level executives have a personality clash, you get wasted effort of one entity and ineffective action in another entity.  So one thing is identifying personality traits, and another thing is matching those traits to the job, the tasks, and the people around you.  Let’s have a look at all these aspects.

So, to summarise…

Working with other people means you will be exposed to lots of different personality types.  By now, you have probably worked out some ways of identifying these types: noticing their communication style, their decisions, and their relationships.  There are personality traits that end up earning more money than others (rightfully or not), and some research claims that another personality trait is the single most important trait for all kinds of success. 

Research shows us that matching our behaviour to our personality can increase our happiness.  For example, spending money on things that match your personality can increase your happiness levels, whereas spending it on things that do not match it will not.  Extroverts who spend money on a book might gain less happiness than spending money at a bar, as opposed to introverts, who might gain more happiness by spending money on a book than at a bar.  Identifying your personality traits is important for your happiness and your happiness is important for your success and productivity, so it is important to your workplace too.

How are personality traits identified? Usually through personality tests but personality is far more complex than just a snapshot in time of a person’s behaviour.  One of the most common ways to measure personality is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®), which 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 movement patterns or reaction to eye contact.  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 20s, 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…

Your workplace offers opportunities to interact with, how shall we put this, interesting personality types.  For example, you may find yourself with a narcissistic boss.  Narcissists seem charming, charismatic, and confident at first, so they can make their way into managerial and leading positions.  Later, you discover that they have an exaggerated sense of entitlement, that they require constant admiration, that they are quick to claim credit for others’ achievements, and to blame colleagues for their own failures.  They also care only about their own success, and they are willing to take advantage of others to get what they need.  All this makes them very difficult to work for.  If this happens to you, there are several strategies you can use to improve yourself while you work with them:

  • Learn from their successful behaviours
  • Be careful when you challenge them – their ego is fragile and hurting it will hurt you
  • Avoid gossip, particularly in an email
  • Regularly examine if staying is useful to you

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
  • The effects of personality types on work outcomes

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 your answers be genuine?
  2. How did you feel about the results of the tests?  Did you agree with them?  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 close are your traits to those of the narcissistic manager?  How do you think working for a narcissistic manager would be?  
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