People likely feared it after watching movies about it - but deep down never imagined it would truly happen. Even when it started to happen, a lot of people were saying “not us” or “not here.” Boy, were we wrong! COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020, and the world, as we knew it changed.
Business leaders had to quickly adapt. Teams that had never worked remotely were suddenly quarantined at home and forced to figure it out on their own. Employees looked to their leaders for guidance in this unprecedented time, many feared they’d lose their jobs, and for many that fear also became reality. Over six months, more than 60 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance — that's more than the number of claims filed during the 18-month Great Recession. (Business Insider October 8, 2020)
Difficult and painful as it has been, tough times make us grow and learn. Here are some of the biggest lessons leaders have learned through the pandemic:
Many leaders dismissed the idea that remote work would be sustainable. They weren’t convinced that people could get as much done at home as they would in the office. They knew that if their employees went remote, they wouldn’t be able to micromanage them the way they would in the office.
A lot of leaders had to give up that control, in a sense, when COVID struck. Happily, most leaders found that, when push came to shove, their employees stepped up and worked beautifully at home. This had a lot to do with employees being less stressed. They didn’t have to spend time commuting, and they could be close to their loved ones. Leaders were also pleasantly surprised to discover that they could effectively manage a remote workforce.
It’s great news that this new way of working is working, because for many we aren’t going back to our former office environment anytime soon – possibly never. (NYTimes.com October 13, 2020)
Leaders have also learned that transparent communication and emotional intelligence are more important than ever. When you don’t have your team working right in front of you, it’s critical to be more open about what is going on. This includes updating the team on company numbers so that they truly understand how things are going within the business.
Additionally, during meetings and one-on-one coaching, it’s now clear that asking how an employee is doing is truly important -- not just a formality. Leaders don’t need specific details, but if their employee is having a hard time, then they need to be aware. That way, they can figure out a way to help. This not only protects the team’s productivity, but it also makes the employee feel cared about, important, and heard. As a result, that employee will be more engaged and loyal in the future.
While work at home has offered more flexibility – studies find that this pandemic is wreaking havoc on stress levels caused by concern for our families, managing class work while our children learn online at home, and we juggle competing schedules with our new home office mates. While we’re all doing all of this juggling, we’re also working longer days. (Harvard Business School September 14, 2020)
Checking in regularly with your employees and making sure they are “OK” goes a long way. Empathizing with your remote worker’s unique circumstances is more important than ever. Help your employees by focusing on output rather than number of hours worked and be sure to coach and recognize work quality, rather than the time taken.
Take time to laugh over our humanness and celebrate our imperfections. Since everyone is at home, leaders and team members alike are learning about each other’s lives outside of work. Sometimes, video calls can result in embarrassing or awkward moments. Anyone who has had something go “wrong” on a Zoom video call can relate. Babies cry, dogs bark, and cats will walk right in front of the camera. While folks may blush for a moment, it’s not a catastrophic event. Now, most people just ignore these minor distractions. We’re all human, and we’re all giving each other some grace.
In the past, some companies would roll out new technology slowly. The process would include extensive beta testing and troubleshooting. Those times are gone. Now, leaders need to take quick and decisive action.
Any company that didn’t have chat software needed to make a swift decision, implementing one as soon as their employees went remote. Businesses without cloud storage had to make that change quickly as well. There wasn’t time to make sure it was perfect. Leaders are now realizing that this is ok. Done is better than perfect (if there’s such a thing, anyway). The rapid changes also forced “technologically shy” employees to just jump in and not be coddled, which is a good thing for their growth and development.
In fact, a recent McKinsey study asked executives how long they expected it would have taken their companies pre-pandemic to digitize 12 different activities and how long it actually took them once the coronavirus hit. When it came to remote working, companies moved 43 times more quickly than executives thought possible. Technology and collaboration tools are a positive addition to our work cultures.
The choice to go remote was a tough decision, but it had to be made quickly. There wasn’t a lot of time to “workshop” the idea. Companies needed to keep their employees safe and making business operations virtual was the best way to do it in most situations. There was no time for leaders to second guess themselves.
All changes had to be made quickly -- even though not everyone was on board with every single decision. However, if changes are made with honesty and compassion, then they will be better received, despite being difficult to hear and deal with.
“Times, they are a-changin’,” used to just be something that was said, but it was never as true as it is now! Leaders must adapt or be left behind. This has been a learning opportunity for us all. We have learned how we can still work together even though we are apart. We can still be close despite the distance. Leaders have learned that teamwork, even when done remotely, still makes the dream work! There will continue to be more to learn as we figure out what our “new normal” is.
There are many things you can do as a leader to support your business needs and your employees during this unprecedented time.
Hiring, just like everything else, has changed. Let The Omnia Group help your organization hire the best talent to work remotely, lead a team through Zoom calls, and keep morale high! Our behavioral and cognitive assessments are a great way to discover the top candidates for each job opening you have. We also offer virtual workshops on hot topics in hiring and employee development that you can watch anytime! Contact us today!
Every decision made after March 11, 2020, dictated our new reality going forward. After a while, it became clear that nothing is going to go back 100% to the way it was. Things have been irreparably changed. Going forward, we all must adapt. Have you learned anything from COVID-19 about leading a team that wasn’t mentioned here?
Fifty-five percent of the people making their living in sales do not have the right skills to be successful. Let that number sink in … over half need more coaching. How many are on your sales team? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 14.3 million people are working in sales and related revenue-generating occupations, so that means only 6.5 million of them will be successful. Can you imagine how many unhappy, dissatisfied salespeople are frustrated that they’re not hitting their numbers and are miserable going to work each day?
When I came across this study, I was genuinely alarmed. In fact, the article was called “21 Mind-Blowing Sales Stats”. And blow my mind they did. It was a stop what I’m doing and take a huge gulp moment. And I truly believe it doesn’t have to be this way. These are numbers that can be improved. When people are aligned to a role that best fits their unique personality traits and strengths and are supported by a leader committed to coaching and developing them along the way, they can be successful. Mindtickle recently published a study that says effective sales coaching can improve sales reps’ performance by 20%.
First, we must embrace the reality that coaching is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, which might explain why it often falls to the wayside. A sales leader must understand the unique traits, strengths, challenges, and motivational drivers for their individual sales reps to coach effectively. The good news is, there is an easy way to enable and coach different personality styles that actually works. Employee behavioral assessments promote a deeper understanding of your sales reps' personality traits. All it takes is ten minutes of your employee's time and a willingness to use the information to modify coaching and leadership techniques based on personality styles.
Once you know the innate individual traits among your team members, you can design action plans for coaching and development. This data also provides helpful insight into how best to motivate individuals and, better yet, avoid de-motivating them. Let’s look at some examples across a few primary sales personality traits The Omnia Group measures.
Level of Assertiveness: If you’ve got individuals on your team who have an extremely high level of assertiveness, and hopefully you do, you can be comfortable knowing they are typically self-driven with a strong need to win. It’s likely that these individuals don’t need coaching to make enough calls, get to the decision-makers, and ask for the business. On the flip side, though, sales reps with this trait can come across as overly aggressive and may have difficulty backing down from deals that aren’t going to happen. To coach this style effectively, take time to observe their sales calls and watch for an overly forceful tone. Listen to how their buyers react to this style. Use these observations to bring awareness to your sales rep on the impact their behaviors may have on winning over the prospect and getting the deal.
Professionals with a high level of assertiveness are motivated by individual goals and knowing their progress toward those goals. They love seeing their achievements posted on weekly sales standings. They’re likely to be de-motivated by an overly zealous sales leader who wants to be on every call with them – these folks like to run their own show. So when you go on calls with them, you need to bring your A-game and make sure you’re adding value to the call.
Another important personality trait to understand is the individual’s communication style. Some salespeople are highly motivated by being around people and are natural rapport builders. While they can win people over easily with their enthusiasm, they may not be listening closely enough to discern the client’s true need for your solution or identifying the concern that keeps them from buying. When going over a deal review, make sure you ask these individuals for details regarding the client’s needs and their true concerns. Actively engage in brainstorming on how to best follow through to keep the deal moving forward. Also, be sure they have identified the true decision-maker and aren’t just relying on a single relationship to get the deal.
Individuals who are highly communicative and people-oriented may be struggling the most with not being able to make face-to-face appointments right now, and they likely miss collaboration with their teams. Ensure they have the support to attend virtual networking events and offer up multiple ways to connect with colleagues across the organization. While a lot of the world is “Zoomed out,” sales reps with this personality trait will likely be energized by virtual happy hour and ice breaker activities.
Another concerning statistic is this one: Over 60% of salespeople are more likely to leave their job if their manager is a poor coach. Coaching, like most skills, requires practice and focused attention. It’s a good bet that the manager didn’t have effective coaching skills or wasn’t hitting the right mark in coaching the sales rep based on individual needs. This leads me to another key sales trait…
The Need for Autonomy vs. Structure: Sales professionals with a high need for autonomy could have a visceral reaction to a sales leader who micro-manages their activities or a finance department that buries them knee-deep in the weeds of contract terms and conditions. These sales individuals are not naturally focused on details and resist getting bogged down in them. And yet we know as sales leaders that these details can make or break a deal. It’s best to arm a big-picture salesperson with a strong support system to proofread their proposals or go over product details with their clients. They thrive when they have a strong sales engineer, solution architect, or client advisor supporting them and the client through the sales cycle. They’ll be indebted to the sales leader who gets them these resources, and the deals they bring in will make it worth the investment.
It’s also super important to be consistent in coaching and development across your sales team. Nobody is motivated when they’re held to a different standard, perceive they have less support, or feel they don’t have the resources to effectively do their job. Here are some key questions to ask ourselves when it comes to making sure we’ve set up our team for success:
Have I clearly defined expectations? It’s important that everyone has a clear understanding of what success looks like and what key behaviors and activities are expected across the team. Then, be sure you hold everyone accountable. People notice when someone else is getting away with something they’re not and de-motivated when others don’t do their share.
Have I provided sufficient training? Every salesperson comes with different experiences and skillsets. Conduct a gap analysis and clearly identify what skills need to be developed at an individual level, then provide the training needed to get them there. High-performing sales organizations are twice as likely to provide ongoing training as low-performing ones. (75 Key Sales Statistics That'll Help You Sell Smarter in 2020)
Have I “inspected what I expect”? – Once you’ve laid out expectations, it’s critical to review and make sure the actions are taking place. Provide on-going recognition and praise for the people who are doing what you expect; highlight how these actions led to wins and successes. For those not doing what you expect – double down on the coaching and explore why it’s not happening. It may be that more training is needed, or it may be that this person is not up for the job.
Am I adapting to changing circumstances? – Clearly, the goals we set in January 2020 may not be realistic for where we are today. The best organizations and leaders are agile and adaptive to changing circumstances. Salespeople are motivated by wins. Make sure you’re adjusting your goals, expectations, and leadership approach to current times.
And finally – Have I asked for feedback? Let’s face it, we don’t have all the answers, and we don’t always get it right. Take time to ask your salespeople what it is that you can do to better support their success. There may be things you’re doing that you’re not aware of that are de-motivating and having unintended consequences on their productivity. This can be a tough thing to do. Put your ego aside, listen to what they have to say, look for trends and consistent themes, and, most importantly, act on what you heard.
As sales leaders, we have a responsibility to our business to bring the revenue in, and the only way we can do that is through an engaged, productive, and successful sales team. When we take the time to understand what makes our teammates tick, what motivates and demotivates them, and what they need for development, we can provide the specific coaching they need to hit that success. Just think, we can contribute to millions of people going to bed each night knowing they have what it takes to succeed and happier in their jobs. Let’s get to it.
Fourth-quarter has always been a huge push for sales teams to finish strong while helping clients spend the year end budget. This 4th quarter is more critical to the success of so many businesses than we’ve ever seen. It could make or break them. Focusing your team on doing what they do best will make a difference.
Selling isn’t easy in the best of times. So, what do you do when you are selling in more challenging times? Most of us remember, not without a certain amount of cringing; the impact 2008 had on sales. It was an economic disaster that required even more, fortitude and grit than usual. Those who succeeded did so because they powered through the tough times using their natural sales strengths, traits like competitive drive, ambition, and resilience. And now, we find ourselves in 2020: new challenges, new economic stressors, both big understatements. We’ve had to adjust, quickly and often, over the last several months. We’ve found new ways of doing business and felt lucky if we could even keep doing business.
While some companies only felt a blip and a few have even done better than before this global health crisis, the truth is that most of us have experienced some serious problems. The economic downturn has severely impacted sales. For a time, finding new business was next to impossible, and holding on to existing business was a significant concern. To borrow from Dickens (sort of), it was the spring of despair, and now we are looking for an autumn of hope.
Salespeople have never had to rely on their sales strengths more than they do right now. And that means you need people with natural behaviors to do well in our new reality. Sales is a constant endeavor of finding opportunities, building a pipeline, and converting leads to sales. It takes a lot of energy. The better suited your salespeople are to the job demands, the less resistance they’ll face internally. As it is, they’ll be facing a lot of resistance externally.
Let’s talk about just what those natural sales traits are.
A high level of assertiveness is critical. On an Omnia, that’s shown as a tall column 1. It’s the single most important trait in most successful salespeople. Naturally, assertive people are win driven and me-oriented; they push for what they want, especially if doing so increases their stake. That’s why salespeople are motivated by commission. They are natural risk-takers who can drive for results that earn them the rewards of a sale.
People with a low level of assertiveness have a high degree of caution, so they are always fighting past their inhibitions when nudging people, including themselves, towards a decision.
It’s harder than ever right now to get a hold of people, and the impact of COVID provides an ideal excuse for prospects not to take or return sales calls, and of course, the face-to-face meeting has been paused for a lot of us. Nonassertive personalities might dial back their efforts to avoid upsetting people, while those with natural ambition and drive are committed to getting up and doing what they’ve always done... find new business. And if that means finding new ways to get or keep business, they are prepared to do that.
Resilience plays a close second to assertiveness. Resilience is the ability to brush off rejection and keep moving forward. Sure, no one likes rejection, that’s a given, but you want salespeople who don’t take it personally. Resilient salespeople understand that rejection is an unavoidable part of sales and that for every “no” they hear, it gets them that much closer to the next “yes.” They learn from every situation, and they don’t let obstacles, objections, or rejections keep them from performing the sales tasks needed to secure a commitment. Coupled with assertiveness, resilient people take rejection as a challenge.
Individuals who lack resilience often struggle to perform the proactive tasks needed because they want to avoid rejection. This is the salesperson who hides behind pre-call planning, documentation and account research rather than putting themselves out there. They also need a lot of time to regain their confidence after they lose a sale. Natural resilience provides the backbone to assertiveness.
Sociability opens doors but isn’t necessarily a critical trait. Social sellers are great at building personal connections with prospects and creating rapport. Analytical sellers, who are socially reserved, are great at providing consultation and solving problems. Both styles are effective, and both appeal to different types of prospects. The problem arises when you have salespeople whose sociability is stronger than their assertiveness. This creates the infamous close reluctance. We call that the networker tendency when the need to be liked is stronger than their need to win. These individuals put the relationship ahead of the sale. They build an impressive list of contacts and collect friends. When they sense hesitation, they tend to back down rather than risk losing their new buddy. People whose assertiveness is stronger than their sociability put the emphasis on the sale. They value the relationship, but they don’t let it get in the way of the deal.
Now that we know what works, what do you do with the information?
Sales Actions in the Age of COVID
As a sales leader, it’s important to tap into that natural drive of your salespeople, especially since it can be hard to feel driven right now. Let’s face it; they are getting shot down more than usual. And while that can’t be an excuse, it does require some new tactics.
Weekly Sales Huddles
Begin each week with a sales huddle to connect your team and start the week with focused goals. These are an effective tool for keeping people stoked and motivated. Sharing wins creates positive energy and a little competitive spirit. Plus, it’s a wonderful way to share ideas and tactics that are working or figure out how to improve on anything that isn’t yielding results. Set weekly goals and post progress against these goals – there’s nothing like a published dashboard to drive energy, build momentum, and fuel the competitive spirit we all have in sales.
Redefine What Winning Looks Like
Assertive salespeople crave challenges; they need ways to win and keep score. If sales are in a slump, look for other ways for them to win. Set weekly challenges and celebrate the wins at the end of each week. It’s getting the most prospects to call you back. It’s securing a demo, making the most calls, filling the pipeline with qualified leads, contacting existing accounts, or other activities relevant to your business. Speaking of existing accounts...
Take Care of Your Clients
Nurturing existing business is always important, but it might look a little different for a while. Encourage your sales team to show their clients that they care about what they are going through. Look for ways your team can support their clients and help solve problems, even if it doesn’t result in a sale at that moment. Now’s a great time to also have those year-end budget discussions with your clients as they develop their strategies for 2021. Look for ways to help them streamline, simplify, and save if you can. Many of your clients may be struggling in their businesses. Doing everything you can to support them and bring forward value could help keep your company off the chopping block when costs get cut, and competitors come calling.
Decide if Your People are Still Your People
Take a hard look at your team. If someone on your team wasn’t cut out for sales before, this environment might be close to impossible for them now. Are you going to invest your time and energy into coaching them, or is it better to release them and look for replacements who are naturally aligned to selling both in good times and bad?
As you head into 2021, it’s important to be sure you have the right people in the right roles to thrive in these challenging times. Natural assertiveness drives salespeople toward new opportunities, while resilience keeps their confidence intact. It’s a winning combination, and leaders need to be confident that their team has these traits. An Omnia assessment is a quick, effective method that quantifies these inherent traits, giving sales leaders knowledge about their salespeople and powerful insight that can drive solid decisions on how you organize your team, possibly change out some of the team, and how to can motivate your sales reps to be their very best.
As an eternal optimist, I’m grateful I’ve managed to keep my optimism through these past few months. And my optimism is always fueled by hope. So here’s to an autumn of hope. Hope for a surge in sales, a return to thriving businesses, a strong economy, a healthy global population... and new sales!
This week we're here to help you coach your team through conflict with a focus on cohesion.
It’s natural for humans to form teams, and it’s normal for those teams to develop specific dynamics. As a coach, a leader, it's important to influence those dynamics by setting clear goals, encouraging communication, and emphasizing ways to be productive and creative. Without effective leadership, teams can become unproductive, apathetic, and even toxic.
While not every group will automatically become unified in their goals, these teams can be coached into cohesion with the right leadership. Cohesive teams are industrious and generally drama-free. Interactions among team members are respectful, disagreements are resolved peacefully, and agreement is a regularity.
How can you support your team to become more cohesive? We suggest the following:
The first step toward a top-performing, cohesive team is believing it exists. Set your expectations and your standards high. Offer support needed to meet these expectations and hold team members accountable to you and each other. Examples of ground rules include: Everybody shows up on time and ready to work, everyone participates, all ideas are respected, and commitments are kept.
We all learn differently, communicate differently, and handle conflict differently. These differences, combined with those based on race, gender, ethnicity, sexual identity, socioeconomic status, age, life experience, and so on, can be the driver for enhanced problem solving and innovation. Still, they also can be the source of stress and discord. Rather than assuming what people are likely to believe based on their outward characteristics and backgrounds, why not introduce some team-building exercises that reveal, more objectively, who’s who? Omnia’s professional development report helps employees understand their own personality traits and motivations. The report is ideal for reducing conflict and building collaboration.
In every group, some members will be more vocal than others. These individuals might be the natural leaders worth following, or they might be those with the biggest egos who enjoy hearing themselves speak. In either case, don’t allow them to take over. The magic of diversity can’t work if true inclusion isn’t practiced. That means everyone gets a say, and each idea is given the consideration it deserves. This is not to say the team is obliged to spend hours hashing over every bad idea. However, dismissing an offering with a snort or off-handed comment is out of bounds and violates those ground rules mentioned earlier. Instead, anyone who cares to counter another’s idea should be required to defend her position with rational and clear principles.
As any sports fan knows, coaches encourage and enable others to do what they do. Coaches don’t do the work the players must do. So it is with good leadership. Getting out of the way is crucial. To bring your team to cohesion, be prepared to provide resources, inspiration, guidance, and wisdom, but don’t interfere where you’re neither needed nor wanted. At best, you’ll infantilize the team and teach dependence. At worst, you’ll create resentment and other ill feelings – all the while impeding work that would otherwise get done.
It’s common to complain that the same manager who is quick to criticize what employees do wrong is also slow to praise what employees do right. Don’t be that manager. Instead of catching your employees doing “bad,” catch them doing good – and let them know it.
Nothing can tear a team apart faster than a leader who plays favorites. It’s okay to like some people more than you like others. It’s human nature and nothing to fret over. However, allowing your personal feelings to influence how you manage to the point of treating some employees unfairly is clearly to be avoided.
Highly functional teams are extremely valuable to the companies that support them. Coach your team into cohesion (or ensure it stays there) by following this article's advice.
As a leader, you’re invested in the growth and development of your team. You know that properly coached employees can achieve your company’s lofty goals and be more engaged while doing so. But -- did you know that your coaching efforts could fall flat if you don’t have the right insight about your team members?
That’s because every person on your team is unique and will respond to being coached differently. So, for the best results, your coaching must be tailored to each individual, taking into account:
Don’t worry, though. You don’t need to spend years piecing together this intel. You can glean all of this critical information quickly through behavioral and cognitive assessments.
Let’s take a closer look to see how.
You’ve heard that leveraging your employee’s strengths is the best way to maximize their performance -- and it’s 100% true. Assessment results reveal what your employees naturally do well and where they tend to struggle. This knowledge enables you to craft a custom coaching program that builds on their strengths while addressing their weaknesses.
When you focus on their current capabilities, you empower them to grow using the tools they have. This lets them achieve quick wins, which boosts their confidence and facilitates continued development. By following the strengths-first approach, you’ll propel them towards greater success in your coaching program as well as their entire career.
Every member of your team processes and implements information differently. Assessment results will help you understand how each employee learns best. You’ll instantly know:
With this insight, you can tailor your coaching approach to each employee. For instance, you may need to slow your pace when coaching an employee who processes information methodically. Or, if you’re working with an especially analytical team member, you may want to base your coaching on facts and figures instead of personal anecdotes. Finally, if your employee needs a firm structure to thrive, you might want to ensure that your coaching sessions don't deviate from the scheduled topics.
Of course, the reverse of these scenarios can also be true. You may be able to move through information faster if your team member can handle it. Or, you could tell more personal stories when coaching people-oriented employees. When working with team members who prefer less structure, you can make coaching sessions more adaptive to their changing needs. The bottom line: one size doesn’t fit all, so meet your employees where they are for optimal results.
Your coaching will be most effective when it aligns with your coachee’s long-term goals. That’s because your team member’s personal and professional plans drive everything that they do. So, to unlock their true potential, you must uncover what really motivates them. By tapping into their motivation, you can compel them to work harder and continue to grow.
Behavioral assessments yield this critical insight, allowing you to create a coaching program that’s a true win-win for both your employees and your company. Your team members will be motivated to excel in their roles because you’re helping them fulfill their career aspirations. And your firm will benefit from a knowledgeable, skilled, and engaged workforce.
Omnia offers both cognitive and behavioral assessments. Reliable and valid, when implemented together, you’ll learn everything you need to know to coach your team members effectively. You’ll understand how they solve problems, process information, apply new knowledge, adapt to change, and so much more. You’ll also become acutely familiar with their personality, allowing you to connect with them on a deeper level and foster trust.
The Omnia assessment results include more than just the data. The assessment reports show you what that data actually means -- and how you can use it to increase performance and engagement. In short, you’ll instantly become a more effective coach because your coaching program will truly cater to each member of your team.
A well-developed and committed workforce is your company’s single best asset. By becoming a better coach, you strengthen that asset, positioning your firm for future success. The first step to upping your coaching game is to create a tailor-made development program for each team member based on employee assessment results. Then, leverage the assessment insight in conjunction with employee strengths, and watch your team flourish.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could change our personalities at will? We could reduce conflict, increase communication, and improve productivity with little effort in this magical scene.
As employers, in addition to the above, wouldn’t it be grand if we could seamlessly coach our employees to achieve greater career success by changing their styles of behavior?
Of course, it would. The good news is there's a way to enable and coach different personality styles that actually work. It requires a quick and easy assessment to get started and a willingness to modify coaching and leadership techniques based on personality styles.
Employee behavioral assessments are helpful to understand the personality traits of job applicants and current employees. This behavioral / personality assessment makes it possible to uncover an individual's deeper motivators, preferences, and behaviors, plus how those traits will affect their performance in a particular role.
Sometimes individuals naturally evolve over the years to become more effective in their work and personal lives. And sometimes, we can help individuals consciously develop the characteristics they need in a given job. However, certain traits are easier to change than others.
With insights gleaned from a behavioral assessment, you can better predict job compatibility by gauging an individual's similarity or dissimilarity to the duties and personality patterns required to be successful in the job, your work culture, and with their peers and supervisor. Behavioral often is a bigger factor in fit than skill sets. Skills can be developed and improved. Some personality characteristics cannot.
Researchers have identified five characteristics that largely govern how our personalities function. These “big five” factors are generally believed to be fairly constant throughout our lives and may be attributed to genetics and the environment.
In concert with this finding, researchers at Stanford University propose that change is possible over our lifetimes. Even more encouraging is a finding that change tends to be for the better. But note that scientists disagree with this proposition. Some observe that while change may occur, it is likely to be nuanced.
Each of the five personality traits tends to develop in different ways through our lives:
1. Conscientiousness (efficient/organized vs. extravagant/careless). People are likely to improve in this area throughout their lives; with maturity comes greater conscientiousness. We develop this trait most strikingly in our twenties as we take on adulthood's work and family responsibilities.
2. Extroversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved). Extroversion is the trait of being energized by interacting with people; introverts are energized, in contrast, through thought and other solitary activities. However, extroverts may perform quite competently and even excel when working alone, and introverts may socialize effectively.
It has been observed that women may need somewhat less social support as they age, but men stay more constant in their extroversion orientation. Both genders may improve their social skills through experience and practice.
3. Agreeableness (friendly/compassionate vs. challenging/callous). Our abilities to get along and emotionally support others may improve as we age. The thirties and forties are the life decades most apt to show development in this aspect of personality.
4. Openness to experience (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious). Openness is defined as a willingness to try new ideas and experiences. This trait may decline somewhat with age. As we grow older, we may become more set in our ways. Still, there is a great deal of variation among people at all stages of life, and we are not doomed to become inflexible over time.
5. Neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs. resilient/confident). Neuroticism is our tendency to worry and sense instability. Women are more likely to somewhat overcome this trait over the years relative to men.
What you can change. . . and what you may not be able to change.
While these five personality traits are the cornerstones of personality development, many other specific competencies are amenable to measurement via behavioral assessments, which can be changed. The extent of change that is possible varies by trait.
What Does a Behavioral Assessment Actually Measure?
Assertiveness: The need to make things happen.
Communication Style: The need to work with people versus the need for proof.
Pace: The speed at which a person operates.
Structure: The degree of dependence on rules.
The Omnia behavioral assessment is known for its easy-to-read, easy-to-interpret eight-column bar graph that displays these four behaviors as pairs of columns because every trait has the opposite. Just one assessment and eight columns will give you all the information you need to make your next hire successful!
The competencies that are the easiest to alter are generally those that are primarily relevant to the work environment. Coaching and training can help willing student progress in oral and written communications, political savvy, chairing effective meetings, planning, goal setting, and customer service.
At the other end of the “changeability” spectrum are those characteristics that are most resistant to change. Intrinsic intelligence is difficult to improve, though book learning is, of course, possible. Creativity, analytical skills, integrity, energy, assertiveness, and even ambition remain unyielding to training and coaching.
In the middle are certain behaviors that may be susceptible to change, but the process is not easy. These competencies include listening, negotiation, change leadership, being a team leader, and conflict management.
All in all, it is important to understand our own personality traits and associated competencies as well as these characteristics in those we employ. Acknowledging how traits vary in their amenability to change helps us determine how to help employees contribute most effectively to the workplace and select (and achieve) appropriate career goals.