organization development team building leadership expert michael cardus

Are personality profiles useful for determining employee competencies?

Assessments are just an easy way for managers and human resources directors to avoid being accountable for their decisions and work.

You are not a psychologist. You are a manager.

Personality factors in individuals are something that every company seems to want to assess and change. There is a false belief that is reinforced by management “I have these certain personality traits therefore for people to be successful like me, they must also have these traits.”

Bullshit and if you think that way you are a Narcissistic Ass or a kinder word Bosshole coined by Bob Sutton.

There are many negative behaviors (such as abrasiveness, lack of initiative, untrustworthy, manipulative, etc…) that are dysfunctional, and there are no positive personality characteristics required in an appropriate amount for specific roles.

For example;

  • “Sales people need to be more sociable or extroverted” we have all met salespeople who are all over the spectrum on “socialness” or “extraversion” and they can be very successful in their role of sales.
  • Another example “Quality Engineers need to be more analytical” how much of the analytical characteristic is required?

This confusion comes from wrong thinking confusing personal characteristics with values.

Values: those things to which an individual will give priority or wants to do. Values are vectors which direct our actions. How much we value a role determines our commitment to work in it. (Jaques 1998)

For example, engineers must be more analytical than others is simply not true. Everyone’s work requires them to be analytical.

It is true that engineers have to value learning analytical methods and enjoy using and applying them, just as sales people value selling, and managers have to value managing others.

Managers must value managing others Create-Learning team building and leadership

It is not the role of management to change someone’s psychology, and testing through unrelated assessments for “personality fit” will increase suspicion and distrust. Arousing the negative side of our emotions forces negative emotions to become necessary to accomplish our work and stay employed, sucking creativity, innovation, and progress from the organization, teams, and people.

How can we create a trust-attracting organization, where people being themselves is good enough?

Once we hire, promote, place on the work team – leave people alone to be themselves with their personal expression and style within known limits. This allows for a diverse workplace, and eliminates prejudices of “He ought to behave like this because that is how successful people (like me) behave.”

The world of work is an adult community. Everyone has their personality and need not feel that they have to be something they are not because an assessment and a consultant decided that “there are too many eagles, D’s, executors, ENFP, etc…”

Using our style and function within the limits of accountability, authority and reasonable behavior in our working relationships. The manager’s duty (as one that should value managing others) is to note extreme actions and/or values that are out of line and to discuss these problems with employees like adults.

The people are okay and want to do their best work. If you are noticing behaviors that are the opposite of this…them somewhere in your system, these behaviors are being reinforced, and people feel they have no other options.

image by Koshyk