executive cocaching

Understanding personality traits is understanding strengths and weaknesses of your employees

If you’re a leader, you’re most likely looking for ways to improve the performance of your team. Well, a key way to do that is to identify the personality traits of your team members and learn how to get the best out of their specific personality type.

A 2016 paper in Science Direct said, “leaders who have an understanding of how individuals’ personalities differ can use this understanding to improve their leadership effectiveness and lead to improving employees’ job performance.”

Understanding personality traits is a good way of getting to know your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, and you can use this information to keep them motivated. 

You should also be assessing your own personality traits, as this will help you identify your own strengths and weaknesses. This will not only help you be a better worker yourself, but it is a wonderful example to set for your employees.

Leaders must take the time to understand personality traits in the workplace

No two people are completely alike. But sometimes we want our employees to act like carbon copies of an ideal one , with the same output and the same reactions, so that we can easily predict what they will do.

As leaders, we must understand that the people we work with will have different personality traits. The good news is that if we can understand and master navigating those personality traits, we can build a very productive team.

There are five key personality traits you need to look for in your staff, known as the “big five.” They are conscientiousness, extraversion, openness, neuroticism, and agreeableness.

Dr. John Behr, executive coach with over 25 years of experience says:

“Describing personality is one way of referring to who we are as people. It is a big part of what makes us individuals. And it helps to describe the differences between us all. One way of organising personality is by sub-scaling it under the big five. And there are certain changes that are possible in people, but a leader must ask themselves these questions:

What can realistically happen in the way of change?

What is reasonable?

How do we define what is reasonable? 

Do I even want to change this person?”

The different personality traits

Your employees will fall along the spectrum of all of these broad personality traits, they will exhibit more of some and less of others. Understanding how they express through each of these broad categories is the key to getting the best from them.

For example, they might be very disciplined and organized and have strong attention to detail,   or they might enjoy big-picture thinking and not care for the finer details. Depending on the type of job at hand, this could be acceptable or catastrophic. 

Your employees who score high in extraversion might be outgoing, sociable, and/or fun-loving while those who score low may skew shy, reserved, or thoughtful.

Openness tends to chart traits like spontaneity or structured planning, imaginative or practical problem solving, and positive or negative responses to change generally.

Neuroticism is about the way your staff express and experience emotions, whether they are anxious or calm, self-conscious or confident.

And finally, agreeableness describes your staff’s tendency to seek consensus, cooperate, follow rules, trust others, speak up when they disagree, and stand up for themselves. 

You could be an extravert but also practical. You might be spontaneous and very likely to cooperate. 

Each one of us falls somewhere on the scale on each of these personality traits. It might be really useful for you to figure out where you yourself lie. 

Personality and work relationships

So how do we learn how to harness these? First we need to look at which traits are viewed as the most valuable in the workplace. 

According to Essentials of Organizational Behavior: 14th edition, conscientiousness as a personality trait has the biggest influence on job performance. People who score higher on this trait tend to know more about their jobs and are likely to have aspects associated with strong leaders. However, they are also more likely to put work first over anything else, they tend not to like change, and they are generally not as creative. 

So, what about the other personality traits?

People who score high on extraversion like to take charge of situations and are also likely to have strong leadership abilities, but may be prone to behave impulsively and may make silly mistakes because of it. 

People with a high level of openness are adaptable and happy to adhere to change. Their performance is less likely to decline over time. Those who score high for neuroticism, however, are more likely to burn out, as they have a tough time managing emotions. Since high emotional stability is linked to satisfaction in life and at work, open employees tend to be really capable of adapting to fast paced change.

Dr. John Behr says: “Personality theory can be applied to train people. Personality is primarily internal, while behavior is external.

Further, behavior can be divided into behavioral expressions: expressions which are grounded in who we are, and second, behavioral expressions which are a product of modeling. This can be because we are used to doing things, not because of the way we are.

If something is stubborn even after effort, then you need to go deeper and understand what element of your personality is resistant.”

A coach can help you

Dr. John Behr can help accelerate your growth by teaching you how to identify your own personality traits and how to recognize them in others. 

He says: “Anyone who wants to grow personally, should be taking the time to understand their own personality as well as those they work with. Whether that is through assessments or any other method, they should be using tools to understand personality. Understand what makes you unique.” 

John Behr’s coaching will also help you to build on your strengths, develop new competencies, and facilitate your self-discovery.

For more information, please fill in the contact form on our website.