Why Personality in the Workplace Matters

Personality at work is more important than you might think. A profound understanding of how personality and the interplay of different personalities impact the bottom-line of an organization and how culture influences behavior and performance helps managers, HR professionals, coaches and consultants make the right choices when selecting or developing leaders and staff.

Personality is generally defined as the totality of the individual characteristics of a person. These include physical appearance, the way s/he behaves, his or her thought patterns, attitudes and beliefs, values and emotions. People have always been concerned with the question of what distinguishes them from others and what they have in common with them. In essence, it is about the question of what essentially makes us different, what is special or unique about each of us.

Personality psychologists basically agree that the core of human personality can be described by time- and situation-stable characteristics (traits) that only change slowly or little and characterize a person over a long period of time. Traits that are stable over time and situations do not only include our emotional reactions in everyday life. Personality in this sense also manifests itself in the way we think (cognitive level) and how we ultimately behave (behavioral level).

In the development of personality, it is important to consider the interplay between biological factors (“genes”), environmental factors (social environment) and autonomous factors – possibilities for shaping one’s own personality. Basically, we can assume that human beings are something “continuous”, even though we sometimes may undergo massive changes in our experience and behavior in the course of our lives. We experience ourselves and other people as individual personalities, regardless of the fact that we can change and develop or behave very differently in different social situations.

Here are some reasons why personalities matter in the workplace:

  • Job fit
    Employee turnovers are expensive. The cost ranges from 30% to 150% of an employee’s salary. At the same time, an organization may also lose a chunk of its business when someone leaves. These traits, or natural reflexes, that form an individual’s character are essential not only when predicting how people will interact and behave with one another, but also how they will fit with the tasks and responsibilities required for a position. Personalities also factor in an employee’s decision to stay in the company or not. If his or her personality does not fit with the company culture, what would make you think that person will stay?
  • Cohesive team
    When you are spending eight or more hours a day with the same colleagues, it’s not their experiences or education that will determine what type of relationships you will have with them. It is their personalities. Team members need to be able to work and engage together, so it is all about whether or not they are team players. A personality assessment helps decrease conflicts and improve collaboration.
  • Developing strengths
    Personality also plays importance in determining a person’s strengths and weaknesses. In a team, you can assign a task to a member where you know s/he will do well. You can also think about what each team member can and cannot do. On a personal level, while your skills are important on how well you can do your job, knowing where your personality can become a talent will change the way you interact with your work. There are tasks and activities that are particularly easy for people with a certain personality, as they only have to follow their autopilot to perform them successfully. For a second person, the accomplishment of this very task can again cost a lot of effort. Thus, the distribution of tasks in the team can be designed personality-based and at the same time efficient.
  • Effective communication
    How we learn, what information we need to feel at ease making a decision, and how much time we need to allow this information to set in can differ from one employee to the next. So, personality at work is important for making sure you approach someone the best way possible and are equipped with what this individual needs to feel comfortable.

It takes time for people to recognize their own personality traits and those of others. It is a lifelong process to develop the skills needed to fully embrace personality traits. They will push us outside of our comfort zones. Our businesses and practices will be healthier when we and our workforce are respectful and mindful of the difference between personality traits.

At RELEVANT we work with Hogan Assessments. Hogan is the leading global provider of research-based assessment solutions. RELEVANT helps companies use personality diagnostics to reduce employee turnover and increase productivity by hiring the right people, developing key talent and assessing leadership potential.

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