Motivational Factors and Personality Types

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motivation-articleLet us launch this brief overview with the premise that capturing an understanding of how our own personality type, as well as the things that motivate or demotivate us, can play an enormous role in our success, personally and in our business dealings. If you agree with this statement, fast forward this concept to the advantages of having an equally clear grasp of the personality differences and motivational factors of your spouse, family and friends, and those you interface with in the corporate world….leaders, peers and subordinates. Trying to determine these factors boils down to trying to get a handle on “what makes us and others tick”.This is certainly not a new concept. Some would say this is an absolute science, based on the ability to obtain valid test or assessment results and run the outcomes through some formulas.Others would say this is done more via a “sixth sense” or gut feel. I believe that there is plenty of real world evidence to indicate that this process involves a mix of quantifiable (scientific) information gathering and the ability to sense what is real and how to actually apply the knowledge in day to day interactions. Even a cursory look at the topic of personality types and/or motivating factors will indicate that there are literally tons of tests, assessments, and other forms of evaluation that deal in this area. That alone tends to add credence to the importance of gaining knowledge in this area.

For twenty years I had the privilege of owning a successful and highly focused retained executive search consulting firm…Jordan-Sitter Associates. I am pleased to say that JSA is thriving today under the capable leadership of the owners who purchased this business. During my years as a “Trophy Hunter”, I had the opportunity to assist large companies in the recruitment, evaluation and the hiring of senior level managers, to include CEOs and Presidents. Several of our clients employed various assessment tools which ranged from online tests to extensive evaluations with an industrial psychologist. Time does not allow me to attempt to weigh-in on some of the merits and limitations of these specific tools; however, I will pass along a few thoughts that may prove beneficial to our life coaching clients. Because there are definite benefits to properly utilizing assessment techniques, it is essential for us to consider how to best apply them in our own situations.

First, there is a distinct difference between assessments of personality traits or styles and the factors that motivate or demotivate an individual. Knowledge in both areas will help us better relate to others in a variety of business and social settings, as well as in our most important arena – our family environment.Let’s take a look at a business setting where a candidate is about to interview with her potential boss. If the candidate has foreknowledge that the senior manager is a very direct and bottom line individual, and is motivated by achievements (results), then the interviewee would be well advised to absolutely minimize the small talk and focus on the value she can add to the business. However, let’s switch to a family scene. Dad is having a delicate conversation with his teenage daughter and he knows that she places a very high importance on having a sense of family, stability and security. He would do well to relate to her in a warm and fuzzy manner which is not the same way he might talk to his college age girl, who is a real social butterfly or to his adult son who is a serious and very scientific person who likes to know the why behind everything. I’m sure the point is made that we should expect to get better results, and find more satisfaction, in personal exchanges where we take the time to relate to others on their terms.

It is very debatable as to how much credence should be given to these types of assessments when making “yes” or “no” hiring decisions. Regardless of your view on that, certainly you would agree that the more we can know about an individual’s personality style and motivational factors the better job we can do in placing him or her in a work team. A mix of personalities can be a blessing to a team; as they use each other’s strengths. If each team member has a sense of what makes his teammates tick, the more likely that group is to assign projects properly and to avoid conflicts. If an employer is hiring for an accounting role, or a computer programmer, where these roles have limited social interaction, this would not bode well for the selection of a person who thrives on being around people. On the other hand, the selection of a person who just loves detailed work and is quite comfortable with limited interpersonal contacts might be perfect.

We stated that there is a difference between motivational factors and personality types or styles, and that’s very true. Having said this, when I was a young up and comer in the business world, I wish I would have sensed just how differently subordinates and peers were motivated. The very things that I valued as rewards might have had little impact in driving results for others. God wired us to be unique and this is obvious when we see that one person glows when given public praise and the same action might be an embarrassment to another individual. Bonuses may be a big deal to one person while a promotion or even a better parking spot might be a sense of pride for his/her coworker.

All we have done in this short article is touch on the topic of personality typing and motivational assessments. In a life coaching scenario, our commitment is to work with our clients to select the assessment tools that have the most potential to add the highest values to them personally and professionally. Done properly, business performance should definitely be enhanced if the key players make optimum use of the knowledge of personalities and motivating and demotivating factors, for themselves and for those they lead.