The personalities companies want and the traits they don’t

There are a plethora of personality inventory models used by HR departments in the hiring process today, but whether you are “green-blue” (The Edge) or “INFJ” (Myers-Briggs), personality assessments are common workplace tools created to measure how you think and/or behave – relative to the rest of us. In essence, a personality inventory asks how you view the world, and then, in turn, your score reveals how the business world now views you.

HumanMetric's Personality Inventory is one example of a simple, free, and anonymous online personality inventory you can take in a few minutes. Answer every question honestly, and after learning your assigned “type,” click the free “Self-Awareness and Personal Growth” module to learn more about your construct. Then click the “career choices” module for recommendations. I’m an “ENFJ” best employed in a mid- or high-rank management role. I would be best suited to work in counseling, social service, and/or a legal field. In the past, before becoming publisher of In Business, I was a counselor and a police crisis interventionist, so that’s very much on the mark.

Another anonymous, quick online personality test with free analysis is the Innate Index from the Kollner Group. This measures five personality factors associated with a variety of life experiences, and rates you, compared to the general population, as to your “place” in each of those constructs.

Successful companies need and recruit a blend of four basic workplace personalities. Are you the detail-oriented “Planner” – the dedicated office worker-bee who everyone counts on? Or are you the people person, the “Relational” employee who enjoys human interactions on all levels – the optimist who will always place people before the system? Perhaps you’re the “Problem Solver” who values learning new and interesting things – whose pet peeve is incompetence. You ask the hard questions and, as a visionary person, gravitate toward leadership roles. “The Performer” lives for the moment; he or she has enormous amounts of energy and works well under pressure or in crisis mode.

Those are the personality constructs companies most value. Then there are the personality traits that successful managers avoid. In BloombergBusinessweek, Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Viton identified three personality traits as being deadly for innovative companies:

Victims. These folks complain about working for people who have no clue, on projects that probably won’t matter anyway. “Victims aren’t looking for opportunities; they are looking for problems. Victims can’t innovate.”  

Non-Believers. “In our experience, we’ve found the link between believing and succeeding incredibly powerful and real,” Maddock and Viton assert. “Great leaders understand this. They find and promote believers within their organizations. They also understand the cancerous effect that non-believers have on a team and will cut them out of the organization quickly and without regret.”

The Know-It-Alls. You people obviously don’t understand the business we are in. The regulations will not allow an idea like this, and our stakeholders won’t embrace it. And then there is the problem of ….

 

“The best innovators are learners, not knowers,” Maddox and Viton noted. “The leaders who have built [innovative] cultures, either through intuition or experience, know that in order to discover, they must eagerly seek out things they don’t understand and jump right into the deep end of the pool. They must fail fearlessly and quickly and then learn and share their lessons with the team.”

While psychologists advise that basic personality constructs are set by age 2 and are, for the most part, unchangeable after the age of 5, there is more flexibility with personality traits, which can be changed through self-awareness and effort.

The better we understand ourselves, the more we can honestly judge our value to a company, and our own suitability and success in any particular job.

Sign up for the free IB Update – your weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. Click hereIf you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.