A national recruiting site recently emailed out a marketing piece: 10 Great Jobs for Introverts. They listed jobs “that don’t involve dealing with people” such as Lab Technician, Data Entry Clerk, Accountant, Graphic Designer and Programmer. They clearly believe that introverts don’t like dealing with people and that jobs in Sales, People Management, Customer Service, Teaching and so on cannot be done by introverts.
I cringed as I read the brief article, because this is so clearly wrong. At the same time, my team wanted me to prepare a blog about the limitations of behavior assessments. I can see from this marketing piece that I first need to correct basic myths about behavior! Some introverts may not like dealing with people, but in my 24 years of experience assessing over 15,000 people, 90% of introverts are highly people centric, they simply are not overt about it.
Here is a quick thought experiment: Think of a job you know very well. Can you think of someone who is serious, cautious and quiet (introvert) who is very good at that job? Conversely, can you think of someone who is enthusiastic, approachable and friendly (extrovert) who is very good at that job?
I have asked that question of individuals and groups at least 500 times and always get nodding heads. The simple fact is any behavior can do any job and do it well. That means the jobs listed in this wrong-headed marketing piece can be done equally well by introverts and extroverts. For the record, I was a very good programmer in my early career, and I am as extroverted as they come. My tax accountant is highly extroverted and has proven himself over and over again to excel in that role. I know plenty of successful introverted salespeople and business leaders. Here is why.
Behaviors measure only 6 Factors:
- Task or People orientation (or equally focused on both)
- Introverted or Extroverted (or equally focused on both)
Do you seriously believe that all 8 billion people on the planet fall into 6 categories and that’s all we need to know? The two most common behavior assessments with which you may be familiar are DISC and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. There are hundreds more, among them Predictive Index, Caliper, and Kolbe. They are all useful but useful for what they were designed to measure: How one is perceived by others.
Behavior is about Perception
- Can be determined with suitable accuracy in a few minutes of conversation
- Does not predict success, but
- Our behavior reveals our bias and determines our perception
Bias is a central problem in screening and interviewing candidates. The author of the marketing piece I refer to is clearly biased against introverts! The result is he or she will dismiss good candidates just because they are introverts and hire poor candidates only because they are extroverts.
What our clients want to know about people they are considering for hire cannot be answered with behavioral assessments:
- Are they a Rockstar?
- Can they fast track into a manager or leader? What is their leadership style?
- What are their values, attitudes, and beliefs?
- Do they fit our culture? Or Can they help improve the culture?
- Are they a fast learner? Are they curious?
- Will they work well with a specific team, customer, or manager?
- What are their top development needs?
- Can they be productive working remotely?
In other words, our clients want to know about a job candidate’s motivations, beliefs, attitudes, competencies, energy, and drive.
In our business, we do assessments on job candidates, and after running thousands of assessments, we have a clear track record of accurately predicting success. To do that we start with behavior, because taking accurate stock of behavior is useful. It gives you and idea of how people communicate, how well they listen and how your clients, vendors, and colleagues will perceive this new hire.
We also take measure of Motivators, one’s values or “world view”. There are two classes of motivators: Business (tangible/measurable) and Humanistic (philosophy/intangible) and this information is key to predicting success in a job. For example, all salespeople whether introverts or extroverts are motivated to make money (a business motivator). If they tend to be quiet and reserved, but money motivated, they will push themselves to get a meeting. Introverts will be persistent and thorough about executing the sales plan.
Extrovert salespeople will have not problems introducing themselves to a stranger, but unlike their introvert colleagues, may have to push themselves to stick to the letter of the sales plan. Extroverts are in a hurry to close and will tend to take shortcuts. Motivators tell us if someone can sell, Behaviors tell us their strengths and weaknesses about how they approach sales.
We added our secret weapon to the assessment mix 10 years ago. Competencies are well known in the HR community and have been since at least the early 1900s. Have you ever noticed how people with the same behavior styles have such different leadership or work styles? Or how people’s effectiveness can change so greatly over time? It comes down to two factors that most of us assumed were not measurable: Attitudes and Energy & Drive for performance. Newsflash: Since the 1980s we have had the tools to measure these things and you do not need to engage a full psychological assessment on someone to uncover their core competencies.
EMPATHY is a foundational attitude, that determines one’s capacity to understand and value other people. Empathetic people intuitively understand the importance of their team members, vendors, customers, and everyone as individuals. This is the foundation for listening, forming relationships and communication.
EXECUTING PLANS and ACHIEVING RESULTS
Empathy is a positive leadership attitude, but a leader must also be effective at managing a project, goals, and objectives to achieve results. Execution is about understanding the mechanics of leading a team and how to anticipate errors and omissions, without micromanaging.
STRATEGY, PLANNING and ORGANIZATION
Finally, an effective leader needs to understand the power of strategic thinking and planning to make sure the entire organization is moving as one to accomplish its goals. This is key to communicating a leader’s expectations and the organizational mission to vendors, customers, team members, and direct reports.
That is the mechanics of leadership, but the power, energy and drive lives in the head, heart, and mind of the leader:
EGOTISTICAL or SELF CONFIDENT?—a perennial tough call.
It is critical to get this one right as ego is a deadly drag on energy and drive. Too much and the individual may feel they have nothing to learn, change, or improve….too little and a self-fulfilling prophecy guarantees failure.
Self-confidence combined with the emotional intelligence of humility can be a powerful fuel for self-improvement and growth.
Simply put, a powerful source of energy, is someone both understands their leadership role (or whatever role) and loves what they are doing. It can be in short supply today as many external factors can dampened engagement, so this can be tricky to get right.
Clear and precise goals pull one into the future and keep one focused on the ultimate objective. It is in one’s head, heart, and soul and is a valuable and reliable indicator of success. This is the most important factor to answer the question, “will this person perform to a high standard?”.
Each of these 6 core competencies are both measurable and independent of Behavior and other factors.
The main point: Motivator and Competency assessments pick up where Behavior assessments stop. Knowing a job candidate’s behavior style simply will not answer most of the questions you really need to have answered before signing the hiring documents. Dive below the surface and measure additional factors that more accurately predict job performance.
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