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People First, Professionals Second - Personality’s Effect on the Workplace

Here at Wren, we strongly believe that each person has been uniquely created for a specific purpose. This same concept applies to the workplace; each employee has been uniquely created and holds a specific purpose within the organization itself. The manner in which an individual goes about fulfilling this purpose, or failing to do so, heavily relies on their inbred personality traits.

What defines a person’s personality?

                The American Psychological Association defines personality as “individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.” The personalities we each hold can be contradictive as they hold the capability to both individualize and unite, often at an intense level, simultaneously. Personalities are what differentiate us and for many people, it is what ultimately defines them. On the other hand, personalities are also a means to consociate with likeminded individuals who often share the same point of view or beliefs directed at a specific topic or situation. There are multiple factors that can affect the development of an individual’s personality; these factors can remain in the cognitive presence as well as the physiological presence, meaning, there are biological factors that can affect a person’s personality growth as well. There are many theories in existence regarding whether personality is bred or born, however, neither side of the argument denies that both can heavily affect one’s personality. We may all be born with a predisposition to think and behave in a specific manner; however, our individual life experiences and cognitive development deeply affect the evolution of our personalities.

Why is it important to the workplace?

                The age-old system of predicting an employee’s success rate in a specific position through measuring their cognitive abilities, has been replaced with measuring one’s personality traits. Many careers require specific hard and soft skills that are unrelated to personality such as work experience, educational background, as well as general life skills. That being said, how many employers are searching for strong leaders, personable relationship- builders, or creative problem solvers? These are the intrinsic values that employers are all searching for, (and if you aren’t pursuing such traits in potential employees, you should be), and all of these are directly connected to a person’s personality, as opposed to their level of intelligence. A person’s personality deeply affects their view on life, and their view on life deeply affects their view on work. Ensuring that a person’s personality lays the foundation for them to succeed in your organization, under your specific set of values, is key. This does not mean that personalities are an exact science or will eradicate all of your internal issues, however, the more that companies learn to understand the value of personalities in the workplace, the better they will be able to function as a whole. This understanding provides a means to not only remove negative aspects of internal operations but will reinforce positive change as well.

How can I use this to benefit my organization?

  • Know Yourself: Understanding your own personality is essential to finding success in your chosen career field. The way that you comprehend, internalize, store, and encode information is all vastly filtered through your personality. In order to effectively communicate, develop your skillset in the workplace, and grow your efficiency rates you must be able to understand your own thought processes. Studying your own personality will allow you to better connect your cognitive development and personality traits with your workplace behaviors. Once you understand why you work the way that you work, you will be in a prime position to develop yourself into an ideal owner, manager, or employee.
  • Know Your Subordinates: If personality deeply affects how you work, then it also must deeply affect how your employees work. The most effective way to motivate your workplace is to communicate your thoughts and ideas through the filter that will best suit the person or people with whom you are speaking to. This is much easier to do in small business settings rather than larger ones; however, even large businesses can use this tactic to benefit their organization. Many positions within a company hold specific personality traits that are nearly requirements to be able to successfully hold said position – these personality traits can be triggered through communication in groups. For example, let’s say you need to convey a central idea to your entire organization. Rather than mass communicating the same message, you could choose to communicate the same message in altering formats to different departments. For example, you might convey an idea differently to a room full of marketers, then you would to a room full of financial advisors. While marketers may be more interested in the public relations and emotional side effects of this message, the financial advisors will tend to be more focused on the facts and numerical consequences of the message behind the scenes. Again, you can convey the same message effectively to different people, as long as you communicate through their personality filter not yours.
  • Know your Fellow Associates: A major benefit of studying personalities within your workplace, is allowing yourself an opportunity to develop healthier internal relationships with the individual people that you work with. In some positions, people are required to work together and be in a constant state of flowing communication in order to fulfill their job requirements and meet their organizational goals. Other positions require little to no human interaction and simply require self-accountability and diligence. Whether you find yourself constantly interacting with people at work or hardly interacting with people at work, it is important to understand what personality is, why it is important, and how you can best utilize it in your specific position at your specific organization. This will project itself in different portrayals for different positions, however, everyone in your organization will need to use internal communication paths at one point or another; studying personalities in the workplace is a way to confidently ensure that effective communication is taking place.
  • Know Your Direct Line of Command: Nearly all of us are required to report to some sort of line of command, board of directors, or CEO – this is not news to anyone. What may be news to some, is that your boss is human just like you (shocking, I know). This means that they have an individual personality that affects their thoughts, emotions, and consequential actions. Understanding their personality may assist you in better communication techniques as well as developing a deeper understanding of where they are coming from when they are feeding you information, whether that information is coming across positively or negatively. 

In order for an organization to reach its full potential, it is vital that the importance of personalities in the workplace is recognized. A person’s personality is what inspires their unique route of thought processes. These thought paths link to the person’s emotions, deeply affecting how they feel about a situation or experience. These feelings develop into attitudes, opinions, and beliefs which ultimately dictates their direct actions, resulting in measurable patterns of behavior. Being able to pinpoint these personality profiles from an internal perspective allows everyone in the office to hold a deeper understanding of the best ways to communicate and work with each other, both in and out of the workplace. Furthermore, educating your employees about the importance of personality traits when utilizing effective communication skills will enable them to be able to recognize potential personality patterns in clients, partners, and other such people that they are required to work with. Understanding personality in the workplace opens the door to healthier relationships for your organizations both internally, as well as externally. Remember, no matter who you are working with, or for, they are people first, professionals second.