Monday, July 18, 2011

There is one thing you can’t change – no matter how hard you try – and that’s your personality …

"Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig." - — Paul Dickson

I spoke at the New York State Society of Human Resources Management Statewide Convention in Saratoga Springs this past Sunday and Monday. Met a boatload of great HR professionals from across the state; it was fun and very invigorating. Thanks to the SHRM folks for their hospitality and for honoring me with the opportunity to speak on two subjects, Do You Have A Plan? – The Importance of Career Management and The Critical Importance of Fit, focused on finding employees that “fit” the job for longer productivity and tenure. Both sessions were packed!

In both sessions, we talked about core personality – some call it the mental DNA of an individual – and how critical it to understand this in order to make the right career decisions and for the employer, hiring decisions. It is an imperative. We also talked about training, and developing people. What was fully accepted by the crowd – no matter how hard you try, train, beat into or otherwise try to change – you cannot change a person’s personality. No way – no how. It is “baked” into one in the first six months of life, and it will not change (BTW, heavily influenced by parents and parental support in early months). One can behave differently but when possible, they will revert to their core personality.

This is why people fail in jobs or are disconnected or unproductive – the job does not “fit” their personality. Put an outgoing person in a dead silent room of cubicles where they “communicate” with a computer screen all day long, and they will not connect and they will leave that job. Put a private person in a role that requires full-on, constant people contact (like a call center) – they will disconnect and burn out – real fast.

Find your “fit” …

I cannot emphasize enough – find the ideal fit of your personality to the job you want to do or the career you seek to follow and do not fool yourself into thinking “… I can adapt.”. You won’t. You will disconnect and you will fail (sorry to be so blunt – but true). And above all, you will not be happy and fulfilled. There are many assessments ( be careful of the online free assessments, most are not validated in the manner they should be) that can direct you to this. Your college career center, local One-Stop Center or a professional in this field of career consulting can help. But get the answer and make the right match of personality to career/job.

Align your personality to the right jobs or career …

With a full understanding of your core personality, you can be helped or you can on your own discover the jobs or careers that align to your personality and where you will have the best potential for career success. Those who are more inquisitive (and as well creative) will not do well in jobs requiring repeatable routine; those who are easygoing will not do well in jobs where there is pressure to produce results on a continual basis. Those who tend to be reactive will find it difficult to work in stressful, life-defining situations (like healthcare direct care) as they may react rather than act. A more resilient person is best in this role.

In evidence …

“The single best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,” he says. “Your personality is going to be essentially the same throughout your life.” As evidence, he points to U.S. Air Force research on personality types that began in the 1950s. For decades, researchers tracked their subjects by observing their behavior and interviewing their families, friends, and colleagues. The conclusion? Basic personality traits did not change, Davidson says. “Introverts were introverts, extroverts were extroverts. The descriptions were constant.

- Alan Davidson, an industrial psychologist in San Diego whose clients include Chevron, Merrill Lynch, and the Internal Revenue Service.

Be all you can be – be what you should be and be happy. That should be your top goal – go do it. And thank you for reading this. - Dan

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