New York Times bestselling author Gretchen Rubin wrote the book, The Four Tendencies, and in it she presents a unique personality framework to guide people in determining the right job fit. She asks one question: How do you respond to expectations? The answer determines which of the four personality categories the person falls within:
- Upholders – people who readily meet inner and outer expectations, like work deadlines and personal goals
- Questioners – people who do not like arbitrariness or inefficiency, so question all expectations
- Obligers – people who are good at meeting outer expectations but have trouble meeting inner expectations, creating personal conflict
- Rebels – people who resist all outer and inner expectations, doing only what they want to do, and even then, doing it on their own time and in their own way
It is easy to see how each type of personality will experience a particular job and surrounding events. For example, the upholder tends to appreciate rigid work rules and planning, so a work environment that is flexible and gives people a lot of autonomy in time planning is not a good match. A questioner likes to get additional information before doing work or work projects and will not be a good fit in a work environment where the supervisor's pat response is, "I don't know. I am just telling you that my manager told me to do it this way."
An obliger appreciates a work environment that offers well-defined accountability, but the person is at risk of taking on too much work and then feeling resentful. A rebel does not like being controlled, and wants full job autonomy and the right to make choices.
This type of personality often describes people in the younger generation of workers – millennials and Gen Z - who expect their employer to give them a project and then let them use their creativity to solve problems and prove their competencies with minimal supervision.
Most jobs today require some level of technical expertise or technical capabilities with training. Skills can be measured with a pre-hire assessment like 1stTech or specific skills assessments.
Digital natives expect technology to play a central role in the way they perform job duties. Unfortunately, a person with great technical skills may be a poor fit for the organization's culture or the job because of their personality traits and expectations. Someone can have high level technical skills but not like or care about:
- Taking orders
- Collaborating with coworkers who are less skilled (social interaction)
- Listening to customers who want to ask the same question four times
- Sharing their knowledge or experience
- Having fixed work hours because they restrict a "free-spirit"
- Having goals set by managers (they want to set their own)
- Being tactful
How well would that person fit into a contact center with a customer services focused or a collaborative culture or a supervisor position requiring daily contact with managers, coworkers, staff and customers? What if a new hire proves to be resistant to change, reluctant to learn or upgrade skills, or lacks enthusiasm for the work?
What if a new hire expects a promotion within three months, is overly assertive in meetings and assumes she already knows everything she should know or refuses to adopt new procedures? The purpose of a pre-hire assessment like 1stScreen is to address these very kinds of traits that influence employee success.
Failure of Expectations and not skills
Many times, the reason qualified and skilled new hire employees fail to perform as expected is due to expectations not met and lack of soft skills, like the ability to effectively communicate with others or build collaborative relationships.
A person with high technical skills may be an excellent communicator when discussing data collection and analytics or hard facts but have no idea how to relate to coworkers who struggle to learn new tech skills.
A technically superior supervisor who is not a good fit may resent staff members who never offer new ideas or contribute useful information. It does not cross the mind of the wrong-fit personality that the employee avoids volunteering innovative ideas because the supervisor discourages it in various ways (another topic for another day).
The bottom line is that you should assess a job candidate for technical competence and then assess their personality and behavioral characteristics to get a holistic understanding of the person. Unless the job involves sitting in a closet-sized room alone with a computer, you need to consider a candidate who has the right skills and the right personality and attitude.
The person you hire should be able to do or learn the specific skills and fit into the organization's culture. In return, you need to meet the person's expectations which are part of their personality. It is not an "either or" process. Simulations, like Supervisor Audition or CC Audition Chat, are particularly useful in identifying a job candidate's expectations because they require responses based on both hard skills and social skills.
Too (Fill In The Blank) To Fail
Does your interview process focus on technical skills and experience because it is the easiest to assess and makes an unequivocal defense should anyone question why a particular person was hired over another?
Leadership IQ, a leadership training and research company, conducted a survey of 5,247 hiring managers. They accounted for the hiring of more than 20,000 employees over a three-year period. Eighty-nine (89) percent of the people who failed in their jobs did so because of traits associated with attitude or personality. The top five reasons for failure, from highest to lowest, were:
- Lack of coachability
- Lack of emotional intelligence
- Lack of motivation
- Inappropriate temperament
- Lack of technical competence
This is one study among many that keep validating the same truth: personality is at least as important as technical skills.