Strategies for Improving Workplace Behavior and Performance

From Leadership Expert Dr. Diane Hamilton

Improving Workplace Conflict Requires Understanding Preferences

How do we know how others would like to be treated if we only look at things from our perspective?  Understanding personality and generational preferences is so important because we learn about opposing or differing perspectives.  To improve some of the key challenges in the workplace requires this understanding.  These challenges include poor soft skills, low emotional intelligence, lack of engagement, and a negative culture.  Many articles address how these problem stem from Boomer and Millennial conflict. Continue reading “Improving Workplace Conflict Requires Understanding Preferences”

The Cost of Low Engagement and How to Improve It

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Many people misunderstand the meaning of engagement. It is important to note that engagement does not mean satisfaction. Engagement refers to an emotional commitment to an organization and its goals.  Engagement, generational conflict, emotional intelligence, and other communication issues are some of the most requested speech topics by organizations. This is not surprising because 60-80% of all difficulties in organizations stem from relationship-based issues.  Numerous studies have demonstrated a correlation between engagement and performance.  Leaders with high levels of engagement also were more transformational, had higher levels of interpersonal skills, and had a better sense of well-being. Continue reading “The Cost of Low Engagement and How to Improve It”

Forbes School of Business Mentor Week

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Forbes Mentor Week was held on August 31, 2015. It was an excellent chance to learn career-changing habits and problem solving techniques critical in today’s workplace. This five-day online event brought together influencers and innovators from all corners of the business community for an interactive boot camp to sharpen your personal and professional skills.

Please see my recorded session here:

Researchers Debate Importance of Introverts Acting like Extroverts

 

Several courses I teach include discussion regarding the importance of understanding personality preferences.  Students often take personality tests to determine their “type”.  Part of their type includes whether they are introverts or extraverts (Myers Briggs spells extravert with an “a” instead of an “o”).  In my training to become a qualified Myers Briggs MBTI trainer, I learned that people have preferences for how they like to receive and process information.  We were told it was similar to how people prefer to write with their right or left hand.  That is why I found the recent Wall Street Journal article titled How an Introvert Can Be Happier:  Act Like an Extrovert to be so interesting.  The title contradicts some of what I learned in my training.

Continue reading “Researchers Debate Importance of Introverts Acting like Extroverts”

Hiring Graduates Based on Personality Skills

HR professionals within organizations have given personality assessments to potential employees for many years. I was asked to take a personality assessment for a pharmaceutical sales job in 1987.  The changes I have noticed since that time include the type and frequency of personality tests given.  What also may be trending is the fact that leaders of schools have become more interested in personality assessments. In the Wall Street Journal article Business Schools Know How You Think, but How Do You Feel, author Melissa Korn explained, “Prospective MBA students need to shine by showing emotional traits like empathy, motivation, resilience, and dozens of others.”  Schools may be interested in these traits because organizations value these traits.  Korn also explained, “Measuring EQ-or emotional intelligence quotient-is the latest attempt by business schools to identify future stars.”

I find this trend to be particularly interesting because I teach business, I am a qualified Myers Briggs instructor, a certified EQ-i instructor, and I wrote my dissertation on the relationship between emotional intelligence and sales performance.  I have also witnessed that online schools have placed more importance on personality assessments. Many of my first-year students must take a Jung-like personality test.  Many of my undergraduate and graduate business students have to assess their EQ.

I think it is important for these personality preference and emotional intelligence issues to be addressed in online courses.  Some of the things that may hurt a graduate’s chance of obtaining is job include having poor self-assessment skills, poor interpersonal skills, and a lack of concern for how they are perceived by others.

When I was in pharmaceutical sales, they rated us each year on our concern for impact.  It was such an important part of what they believed made us successful in the field, that there were consequences to poor judgment and rude behavior.  In the book, It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, there is a chapter regarding concern for impact, as well as one for Myers Briggs MBTI, Emotional Intelligence, DISC, and many other personality assessments that may help young adults in the workplace. One of the universities for which I teach requires students to read this book in a foresight course.

It is important for online students to learn about these assessments because employers use them.  Some personality traits stay with us throughout our lives.  The MBTI is an example of an assessment that determines preferences that may not change.  This assessment may be helpful to students who are not sure about career paths.  Other assessments like the EQ-i determine emotional intelligence levels.  The good news about emotional intelligence is that it may be improved. Marcia Hughes has written several books about how to improve EQ in the workplace.  The savvy online students will work on developing their EQ and understanding personality preferences before they graduate.  By being proactive, students may have a better chance of being successful in a career that matches their personality preferences.

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Marketing Based on Personality Type

 

QuantMethod is a site that offers ways to help companies market to customers based upon understanding their personality type.  The Quant Method assessment puts people into 1 out of 4 categories.  According to their site, these types include:

  1. Thinker – “The Thinker likes facts, details, proven examples and is highly organized. Their approach to business is thoughtful, logical and analytical.”
  2. Mastermind – “Masterminds are characterized by a more assertive approach to business. They tend to be fast-paced, results-oriented and get right to the point. They are efficient, logical and task-oriented.”
  3. Olympian – “The Olympian personality type is characterized by an expressive, aggressive approach to business, and aspires to great heights because “everything is possible.” They are emotive and have an easy-going” love of life” approach in her personal dealings.”
  4. Diplomat – “Diplomats are friendly, compassionate, “feeling” people that desire to contribute goodness to the lives of others. They are effective at doing this through their nurturing, insightful and encouraging nature.”

I took the test and I came out as a thinker. I assumed I’d either be that or a mastermind.  The results don’t tell you how close you are to another personality type. The site claims that my results puts me into the same category as George Washington, Michael Caine, Donald Duck, Eliot Ness, and Johnny Carson.  Hmmm … interesting group … especially Donald Duck.  Apparently half of U.S. presidents are “thinkers”.

In the results, it listed tactics about how to appeal to this type of personality in terms of suggested sales tactics.

This company surveys customers to find out their personality type. They claim their instrument is similar to Myers-Briggs MBTI but with 1/6 the size.  The thought process behind this business is that people like to deal with others that are on their same level of thinking.

Time Magazine article Get Personal with Marketing and Net More Sales reported that this Quant Method may be helpful because, “Knowing more about personality types can help you optimize email messages and websites to include specific landing pages with information that the four different personality types like in order increase conversion rates.”

While I find this to be an interesting way to market, it may be difficult to get people to respond to these assessments.  When marketing to a large database, it is not feasible.  I like the concept of targeting to the individual’s needs.  The real trick would be to get people to actually take the assessment.

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IQ and the Flynn Affect

 

Professor James Flynn is a New Zealand researcher who is known for studying intelligence.  The Flynn Affect refers to, “the substantial and long-sustained increase in intelligence test scores measured in many parts of the world from roughly 1930 to the present day. When intelligence quotient (IQ) tests are initially standardized using a sample of test-takers, by convention the average of the test results is set to 100 and their standard deviation is set to 15 or 16 IQ points. When IQ tests are revised, they are again standardized using a new sample of test-takers, usually born more recently than the first. Again, the average result is set to 100. However, when the new test subjects take the older tests, in almost every case their average scores are significantly above 100.”

There is a debate about whether IQ scores are improving without a corresponding rise in intelligence. There is even conflicting reports that IQ scores are dropping. If they are actually rising, some speculate that there are a number of contributing factors including: education, technology, nutrition, and removal of toxins from the environment.

While countries have made gains of up to 25 points in intelligence, there may be difficulty making comparisons due to testing measures. Some tests are based on fluid intelligence, while others are based on crystalized intelligence.  For explanations about these intelligence tests, check out: The Flynn Affect

David Shenk, author of the article The Truth About IQ explained, “IQ tests measure current academic abilities — not any sort of fixed, innate intelligence. More specifically, the best-known IQ battery, “Stanford-Binet 5,” measures Fluid Reasoning, Knowledge, Quantitative Reasoning, Visual-Spatial Processing, and Working Memory. Collectively, these skills are known as “symbolic logic.” Among other things, IQ tests do not measure creativity; they do not measure “practical intelligence” (otherwise known as “street smarts”); and they do not measure what some psychologists call “emotional intelligence.”

Flynn’s most recent research had some important findings for women.  In the ABC News article Women Beat Men on IQ Tests for the First Time, author Carrie Gann explained, “James Flynn, a New Zealand-based researcher known as an IQ testing expert, said that over the past century, women have lagged slightly behind men in IQ testing scores, at times by as much as five points. But now, Flynn said women have closed the gap and even inched ahead in this battle of the intelligent sexes.”

To find out more information about factors that affect IQ, check out the following articles:

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The Reluctant Extravert

 

The Myers-Briggs MBTI assessment claims it can help determine whether a person is an introvert or an extravert.  According to the official Myers-Briggs site, people know they are an extravert if they think things like, “I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I’m excited when I’m around people and I like to energize other people. I like moving into action and making things happen. I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it and hear what others have to say.”

I have received the training to be a qualified Myers-Briggs instructor.  Whenever I have taken the MBTI assessment, my score or preference for extraversion is very high.  According to these results, “I am seen as “outgoing” or as a “people person.”  I feel comfortable in groups and like working in them.  I have a wide range of friends and know lots of people.  I sometimes jump too quickly into an activity and don’t allow enough time to think it over. Before I start a project, I sometimes forget to stop and get clear on what I want to do and why.”

Lately I’ve considered that I may be a bit of a reluctant extravert.  Many of these points just do not fit me. I would say that most people that meet me would consider me outgoing.  I do like to talk.  I have a hard time handling “dead air”. I also like to have a lot to do. These are definitely extraverted traits.  However, usually I prefer to avoid being around a lot of people.  Many of the above-listed points do not really describe me at all.  For example, I don’t jump into things without a great deal of thought.

Why would my score come out as having a high preference for extraversion?  In my training, they explained that we can act more introverted or extraverted based on a situation.  I think it can be difficult to lump people into categories or types.  I think Myers-Briggs does it as well as any assessment can.  However, even in the training I received, they acknowledged that we are all different.  No one is always one way or another.  It is about preferences.  Our preference for introversion or extraversion is similar in how we prefer to be right-handed or left-handed.  We might be able to write with both, but we prefer one over the other.  We may be able to be outgoing or not, but we prefer one over the other.

One of the reasons I co-wrote the book It’s Not You It’s Your Personality is because I don’t think any “one” personality assessment can truly explain people.  There are many theories about personality that need exploration. I felt that the Big Five, Management by Strengths, DISC, and other assessments offered some valid insight into people’s personalities. While I highly recommend learning about Myers-Briggs and the MBTI, I also think some of the other assessments are worth researching as well.

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Do Job Candidates Lie on Personality Tests?

 

Companies often use personality tests like the Myers Briggs MBTI, emotional intelligence EQ-i, or others like the DISC to determine if potential employees’ personalities are a good fit for jobs.  I noticed a conversation about whether companies should use personality tests for screening employees. It seemed that many of the responses indicated that people will just lie to get the job.

There is the possibility that any subjective, self-administered test could be manipulated.  However, many of the tests have built-in detectors that try to catch inconsistent responses.  For those of you who have taken these tests, you may have noticed that it seemed like they asked the same kind of questions more than once.  Many of these tests reword things several different ways to determine consistency.

I took a personality test for a job as a pharmaceutical representative in the early 80’s.  Because it was a sales job, I knew that they were looking for sales-related qualities.  It was common sense to figure out that since I was applying for a sales position, I should use appropriate adjectives like motivated or driven to describe my personality.

The problem with lying on the personality tests is that in the end, you will end up with a job that does not really fit with what makes you happy.  Also the company will end up with an employee that is not the best match for the job.  In this economy, many people are willing to do whatever it takes to get any job.  However, the experienced HR professional should do more than just use a personality test to determine a good candidate.  These tests can be useful tools if used correctly.  However, they are just one of many tools.

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