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OCEAN – What’s your Personality!

As an HR professional, there are so many different personalities that one comes across on a routine basis, someone cracked a deal so s/he is motivated, while someone is busy fixing a code and then there are few who just want to complete their day and log-off. In order to be an effective communicator or an inspiring team leader, one needs to know what motivates people! This can help lead as well as persuade these diverse personalities that we work with. It is one of the most challenging times for any HR professional not only because of the fluid dynamics that we are working in but also gauging the varieties of personalities that we are dealing with. By the end of this blog, you will get an insight into different personalities that might be helpful for you to motivate any individual! I strongly believe that as a leader, one of the pivotal responsibilities is to guide people and team members in the right direction. Well, that might sound easy, but we both know it’s not! The primary reason why is it challenging is that each person is wired differently. Nevertheless, comprehending human psychology and understanding the personality can enable one to comprehend this difference.

What is Personality? When someone say… “That’s not my me or It doesn’t match my personality”… what are they referring to?

It is a unique approach for an individual to navigate through the world and it also constitutes different actions, thoughts, and behavior. Therefore, a blanket approach for persuasion and motivation is going to give you limited efficacy. Why, because people’s personalities will lead them to respond differently to what you say and do as a leader. Hence, a strong comprehension of individual personalities allows you to motivate, persuade, and lead far more effectively. It will help you to curate and customize your message to the person in front of you. That’s also what the majority of successful marketers do when they design their customer survey or connect with the target audience and build their “Go-To” Strategy.

Essentially, there are five traits of personality that are evaluated on a sliding scale. One of my funda to remember this is by using the acronym OCEAN,

  1. O- Openness to Experience,

  2. C- Conscientiousness

  3. E- Extroversion

  4. Agreeableness

  5. N- Neuroticism (it implies emotional stability)

Working with people is my forte and gauging their personalities in the process becomes very important to ensure proper implementation of ideas. If you like to delve deeper into human psychology you can refer to the extensive research on primary personality traits performed back in the 1980s where they had dubbed these five characteristics as the Big 5. Coming back to the present-day workplace it is a normal convention that people/employees are stereotyped with their dominant traits. However, contrary to this convention, what I have assessed working in corporates for so long is that none of these traits are either-or propositions, implying one can’t be categories as introvert or extrovert, disagreeable or agreeable. We all have these traits and rather than focusing on which one is dominating one needs to comprehend the scale of the trait. So the right question isn’t whether or not you are an extrovert rather it should be how high or how low you are in that specific trait. Let me elaborate with an example, a person who is introverted and high in agreeableness is very different from an introvert who is low in agreeableness. Another important observation is that people are quite eager to jump to conclusions which often gives a superficial view of the team member. One of the most important aspects of understanding personality is the importance of a broad sample size. How many points of reference or data do you have? One thing is certain that one can’t make an assessment of someone’s personality in a week, it takes time. For instance, let’s say after two weeks in a role, you identify someone as disagreeable, but what if s/he is just recovering from an illness or has experienced bereavement in his/her family? Then it is quite likely that you have mislabeled somebody based on a mood, not a trait! It’s like treating symptoms instead of acting on the root cause of the disease. You see, moods are very transient and can change, however, traits are permanent or stay for a long haul. So one point to introspect, before we start trying to label others, let’s start off by labeling ourselves. My question for you is, where do you think you fit within the Big Five Personality Traits?

This self-analysis and introspection will give you good practice to read others and at the same time is the best place to begin! It will help you to comprehend what actually excites you and get you out from the bed on a cold rainy winter morning! Once this is covered it will be easy for you to know, what motivates others? I think one of the biggest buzzwords in the workplace today is Motivation. When you hear about the term motivation, what is the first thing that clicks with you? You see, I am not talking about the type of ga-ga motivation that you see on stages, speeches and events. Typical kind where you get people really excited with props and music to improve themselves (Referring to events we see when Tony is on stage!).  I really like those events and for a major part of my work, you might have also seen me hosting one of them. Those high-energy events create hyperemotional states that make people want to act in the moment. The problem is that this type of motivation cannot be sustained for long periods of time. Eventually, the emotions will fade, and majority of the time, the positive behaviors will fade along with them. Don’t you feel that you were motivated while you were attending the event but after the event is over you are back to your usual self! Exactly…my point!

Then, what is motivation? I am focusing about the things that really drive people regardless of how they are feeling in the moment. We can’t fully understand someone’s personality unless we know what motivates them. Motivation is the key, it is what pulls people to your product/service, it is what makes them tick and it is what drives people in a specific direction. And similar to the Big Five personality traits, if we can understand somebody’s consistent motivations, then we can start to predict their actions, anticipate their behavior, this will allow us to be more persuasive leader.

Hope these questions acted as food for thought for you that can amplify your ability as a leader to motivate and persuade the people on your team. Leadership is demanding and hope this post gave you insight into the psychology of personality that can give you an edge. Let us bring this to life, look for opportunities to refine your message in ways that are curated for the people on your team.


Bibliophile Parul


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Stronger Together!

Hey there, I'm Parul, working in one of the Big 4s of consulting! 💼

By day, I'm decoding the business matrix, but by night, I transform into a book ninja, stealthily navigating the worlds crafted by the greatest authors📚✨


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