Why personality now plays more of a role in the workplace than ever

by Chris Jackson

Patrick Crowder

When we go to work, we are putting on a front. Oftentimes we strive to appear professional and alter our persona to convey that impression. It can be subconscious or deliberate, and research from the team behind the job networking app Debut suggests that it’s probably not a bad thing.

The team at Debut consulted with occupational psychologists to find out what these workplace personas are and to see how managers can alter their strategies with the different personas in mind.

Dr. Meredith Belbin suggests nine different team roles. Each one has a set of attributes assigned to it, such as “introverted”, “high-standards”, “focused”, “creative”, and so on. These personalities work together in different ways. One employee may be skilled at seeing projects through to the end, while another may thrive in the formulation of the initial idea or concept for the project. Ensuring that people are the right fit for the company is a concern for hiring managers, which has led to the use of personality tests in the workplace.

Jessica Alderson has experience with compatibility based on personality types through her dating app Sosyncd, which finds matches based on Myers-Briggs test results. She suggests that compatibility considerations in the workplace should go beyond personality tests alone.

“It can help for managers to know the personality types of their team, whether that’s using Myers-Briggs, DISC, Enneagram or other personality type frameworks. They can then consciously tailor their communication style to individuals,” Alderson explains. “Personality frameworks are a great starting point but you also need to observe and listen to your staff. Take a step back and think, ‘Is this communication style working for this person?’ Managers can also simply ask their team members what’s working for them and what isn’t.”

Everyone works differently. Some prefer the WFH life, and some can’t wait to get back to the office. Even so, many people have some ritual, known to them or not, which helps put them in “the zone” to work. This shift can happen during their commute, when they step through the office door, or even just after that first cup of coffee. The pandemic has seen many of those rituals interrupted or altered, which can contribute to a loss of productivity and foster disdain for a once-loved job.

Debut’s Marketing Manager Avantika Vaishnav believes that the effects of remote working will require employers to look at the personality types of their employees to ease the transition back to traditional work.

“Working from home has really changed everyone. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, it has shifted our perspective of working and most importantly our priorities,” Avantika explains. “It’s been a tough year and the transition back to office life and working around others may be the toughest part for many. Back-to-office anxiety is real and many people will suffer, so be sure to know your employees’ personality traits and how you can make this change as comfortable as possible.”

The pandemic has shown employers the need to view their employees as unique individuals with specific needs. Now more than ever, an understanding of personality traits and how they work together is crucial to maintaining a healthy, productive workplace.

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