Early in my management career, I followed the Golden Rule: Treat others as I would want to be treated. I believed that if I treated everyone the way I would want to be treated, it meant I was a great manager. Yet, I had significant conflicts with some members of my team. Often, I felt it was due to their lack of ownership or poor attitudes. My business continued to experience staff attrition, sometimes at an alarming rate.
Then I was introduced to personality testing and management by personality. This changed my career dramatically for the better and catapulted me to the top of the ranks faster than I could have imagined.
In this article, I will discuss personality assessments, personality differences and how to use personalities to manage people the way they want to be managed. I call this the Platinum Rule.
Understanding Your Team’s Personalities… It’s the Start!
In order to follow the Platinum Rule, you must first understand your team’s personalities and how they prefer to be managed.
First, a little history lesson. Understanding personalities has been around for centuries.
Hippocrates began exploring personality theory around 460 B.C. He said that humans each had a “persona” and that their personality was determined by four distinct attributes. Moving one attribute changed the entire personality.
In the 1800s, Sigmund Freud came out with the psychodynamic approach. This better explained how social situations and interactions are viewed and understood. It also revealed how our behaviors and personalities are driven by innate needs and internal drives.
Carl Jung believed there were four personality traits in people: sensing, intuition, thinking and feeling. He claimed that the interaction of these traits determined a persona’s personality.
Built on centuries of study, the early pioneers in personality identification began developing personality assessments in the 1900s. Today, most people are aware of personality assessments and are familiar with one or more of the major tools. There are many personality assessments on the market—too many to mention here. These are some of the most well-recognized:
- The Predictive Index
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
- True Colors
- The Birkman Method
- 16 Personality Factors
Each of these methodologies have their merits and shortcomings. I was introduced to the Predictive Index about a decade ago and it forever changed my career. My experience is based mostly on this model.
Personality Assessments: Open Your Eyes
My first real shift to using personality assessments was about 10 years ago. I began working for a company that used personality assessments for all hiring and management, for every employee at every level. This was strange to me at first, but I experienced an “Aha” moment when I was having a conflict with one of my colleagues. My manager sat us down, showed us our personality profiles, and explained how both of us had the same goal, but had totally different ways of working toward that goal. He showed us how each of us felt and how that made the other feel. Over a period of about two months, my colleague and I started understanding each other better and grew to be strong allies and partners in our company’s growth and success.
This “Aha” moment forever changed my career. I became certified in the Predictive Index and started using personalities in every facet of my personal and professional life. By seeking to understand others, I became a better person and a more successful manager. I had less conflict and more success.
How It Works
Most personality assessments categorize personalities into multiple categories. For the Predictive Index, the categories are Dominance, Extroversion, Patience and Formality. The four traits are just the start; how they interact can significantly change a person’s personality and behaviors. For example, two people may share identical scores for three out of four traits, but their personalities may still be extremely dissimilar—leading to significant changes in their behaviors and how they prefer to be treated.
Although it seems very complicated (and it is), once I was trained and certified I was able to read the patterns of different people. I learned to align my management style to their individual personalities and behavioral needs.
Using Personality Assessments in Your Center
There are many ways to use personality assessments in a contact center. Here are some examples of the benefits of using these tools in your center.
Applicant Intake Process and Hiring
Your company, culture, products and goals make your contact center unique. Hiring the right people to suit your center makes a huge impact on the overall success of your organization, and reduces the attrition caused by poor hires.
By conducting personality assessments on your top-performing agents and creating a benchmark personality profile, you take the important first step. Armed with this information, HR can deploy the personality assessment as a baseline screening tool, and screen candidates for the desired personality profiles. This eliminates significant resource drain and streamlines the process, bringing in the best agents for your unique culture.
Different personalities learn in different ways. With personality assessment data, your training teams can better understand the learning styles of your employees and modify the training process to align with their unique personalities. Some people learn best in a traditional classroom setting, some learn by doing and repetition. Trainers can use the personality profiles of their learners to customize the training by agent or class profile. The extra effort at the beginning of the training process leads to much stronger outcomes in performance.
Quality Assurance, Coaching and Managing
Have you ever had a coaching session that ended up with the employee in tears? I have, and it does not feel good for anyone involved. By understanding an employee’s personality profile, I am better equipped to understand how a person wants to be coached, managed and mentored. Personality assessments help me to manage my team with less crying and anger, and fewer surprises because I customize my style based on the agent’s personality. This increases the success of coaching and results in higher performance from every agent, regardless of personality.
Incentives and Motivation
What motivates me does not motivate everyone. By using personality profiles to understand your agents’ motivations, you can set up incentive programs that meet the needs of your entire agent population. Some people flourish when they receive public praise, others are embarrassed and hate the spotlight. Some people will work harder for money or prizes, others will work harder to meet goals or to be No. 1. Applying the right incentives to the right people is a game-changer.
It seems obvious that all people are different, and that we all have preferences for how we are treated or managed, but surprisingly few managers take the time to work this way. In a low unemployment economy, it is no longer enough to treat employees the way you want to be treated. Today’s employees expect a personalized approach. They will respond positively to a management style that is customized to their unique personalities.
This is not an easy transition. The human brain tends to revert to comfortable and learned behaviors, and to rely on its own preferences and predilections. However, once you’ve taken the time to conduct personality assessments and map out the personalities of your team, you will see dramatic improvements in the success of your center as well as your life inside and outside of work.