Personality and People Development: Driving Development Programs with Personalized Coaching

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Personality and People Development: Driving Development Programs with Personalized Coaching

Internal development is increasingly seen as a critical strategy for HR. Once, primarily used for internal leadership programs helmed by the likes of Ram Charan and his Leadership Pipeline, internal development has stepped up to fill roles in employee retention, change management, digitization, and employee engagement.

Development gives companies tools to prepare people for change, whether that means training them for new directions their roles will take, new software, new positions, or simply preparing them to stay in the organization as their roles become redundant.

As a result, millions of organizations are leveraging internal development for reasons ranging from workforce shifts to offering job perks.

Many of those programs heavily rely on helping individuals to recognize what they’re good at and why, giving them coaching and career advice to help them shift into development programs that offer fulfillment and value. Here, personality and aptitude testing can play a crucial role in helping HR to define, strategize, and formulate internal development programs.

What Personality Assessments Should You Use?

Most organizations benefit from using a range of assessments and tests, typically mapped to an internal performance framework, aptitude framework, or competency framework. Some of the most common personality assessments in use include:

Big Five – Big Five is a standard but simple personality assessment utilized in therapy as well as work assessments, mapping people to 5 personality traits.

Myers-Briggs – Myers-Briggs is loosely mapped to the Big Five, but maps people to 16 personality types based on 8 diametrically opposed traits. This is the most common personality assessment used by organizations.

Keirsey – Keirsey focuses on identifying different personalities and how they differ, and then training individuals in how those differences are strengths.

DiSC – DiSC maps behaviors at work with the aim of helping people to be more productive. DiSC is useful for helping individuals emphasize and work on strengths while accounting for weaknesses, in work-specific environments.

In most cases, your organization will end up with an assessment provider rather than licensing and delivering personality assessments completely in-house. This will mean you’ll have access to more than one assessment and may be able to use multiple to provide more information, different angles of personality, and validation of results.

Working with Communication Type

Different people communicate in different ways, but most people understand at least some forms of different communication, such as introversion vs extroversion. People communicate in very diverse ways, experiencing the world differently, and learning differently.

Personality and intelligence modelling can help you to understand how individuals learn and communicate, so that you can group them into classes, pair them with coaches, and put them into teams with leaders they can learn from.

Nearly everyone’s heard the quote attributed to Einstein, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid,” but that applies to communication as well. If someone communicates in actualities, they’ll rarely follow abstract coaching. If someone is very emotional, they’ll take offense at someone being pragmatic. And, if someone is very pragmatic, they’ll take very emotional coaching as silly.

Understanding how people communicate gives you the tools to communicate in their language, ensuring that information is fully understood.

Understanding Motivation

It’s less important to understand how a person works and more important to understand why they work. Understanding motivators helps you to understand what to offer, develop, or increase in a person’s workday to enhance productivity, ambition, and learning. Personality tests often help you to assess and even train motivation, looking at factors such as what individuals care about, why, and how much.

While people development often includes aspects of motivational training and motivational coaching, it’s important to understand what you’re working with.

Are people motivated by money? Success? Status? The ability to develop themselves? Things that make work less boring? Engagement? How much of each? You can use this to develop learning profiles including motivational tracts to ensure people stay engaged with what they are learning, stay on track with why they are learning, and are fully engaged with the program and their work.

Coaching Weaknesses

Most personality assessments include some form of weakness assessment, where they will highlight what a person is or is not good at. This remains true whether you’re utilizing Myers-Briggs, a competency framework, or something like DiSC While it’s important not to use weaknesses to keep people out of jobs or to stereotype them, you can utilize them to drive training and coaching to help people develop beyond those weaknesses.

  • How do people’s personalities hinder their performance in their role? How can you coach that to adapt those behaviors to the role?
  • How do people’s personalities hinder their performance in their team?
  • How do personality traits influence communication?
  • How do personality traits negatively influence learning?

A good coach or trainer can utilize personalities to develop programs that help people to function better in their roles, to work on traits that might prevent them from moving into a desired role, or that might impede productivity or workplace happiness.

Growing Strengths

Coaching and personal development is often about recognizing strengths and helping individuals to grow those. Personality assessments are an ideal tool for doing so, because they recognize not just skills and performance, but also the underlying traits that led to those factors.

Understanding if someone is charismatic and outgoing which makes them well-liked as a leader or quiet and reserved but good at people management can also help you to make better judgement calls based on capability rather than simple results, because results are always complex and based on multiple factors.

People are different, nearly infinitely varied, and come with thousands of cultures, conceptions, and biases. Each of these will impact their performance, ability to learn, and development. But, personality type, even if narrowed down to as few as 16 types, can help organizations to identify what a person does well and why, how they learn and communicate, and how they see the world and people around them.

Understanding personality will help your organization to make better calls when designing personal development, to better fit the program to the individual, and to help individuals make better decisions regarding their own direction and learning.


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