Incorporating “Personality” into the Hiring Process, Part 4: Managerial Positions

Jul 7, 2004

The last three articles in this series outlined a few personality assessment basics, as well as a sales example and a call center example. This article will cover some personality basics as they apply to managerial positions. What’s a Manager? When I was in the training business, I was enamored of all the neat leadership programs out there. There were John Wayne models, leadership definitions, manager definitions, situational definitions, and so forth. In fact, all you had to do to learn everything you need to know about leadership was read a book or take a course. Too bad everyone had a different opinion… What can we make of this situation? Most people don’t have a clue about leadership because it is NOT a “raw” competency. Leadership only emerges over time as a person combines competencies and AIMs to accomplish a goal through the activities of others. Selecting Managers When so-called experts cannot agree on leadership definitions, how can an organization pick the right people as managers? First, you need to recognize that this stuff is only complicated by people who don’t understand the basics. Second, go back to basics. For example, good managers:

  • Let us know what we are expected to do
  • Get us the materials and equipment we need to do our work right
  • Encourage us to do what we do best every day
  • Give us praise or recognition for doing good work
  • Seem to care about us as people
  • Encourage our personal and professional development
  • Value our opinions
  • Make us feel that our jobs are important for the company to accomplish its mission or purpose
  • Are committed personally to doing quality work
  • Talk with us about our progress
  • Provide opportunities for us to learn and grow

You might have noted that each of these is a demonstrable behavior ó common sense ó not something kept secret in a locked box. How do we know these are the right managerial behaviors? Simple. Ask yourself what would happen to your productivity if your manager did not do one or more of these activities. Establishing Manager AIMs Patterns Be sure not to confuse leadership under life-threatening conditions with leadership in organizations. The two are very different. Unlike some of the other occupational positions, organizational leadership skills are generic. As long as a position is responsible for leading the activities of other people, the basic behaviors described above work for all almost all situations and people. We just adjust them as necessary to fit personality differences and job maturity. The important thing to remember about managerial positions is that managers are most often selected based on performance as individual contributors, and about 75% of managers have no ability to manage people (big surprise, huh?). Here is a target AIMS profile for a generic management position. Remember, we need to discuss and agree with job experts (managers and job holders) what AIMs levels are needed for the specific job. So here is a good generic AIMS profile: High scored desired for: Attitude toward work (likes working), problem solving (managers have to solve problems), idea generation/innovation (innovation is often necessary), teamwork (need to develop subordinate loyalties) Mid-range scores desired for: Expressiveness (friendly, not overwhelming), administration (follows, but not bound by most rules), impulsiveness (takes action, but not pushy), perfectionism (cares about quality, but not obsessive) Low scores desired for: Self centeredness (focused on subordinates and internal customers), resistance to change (tolerates change) Candidate 1: Shoot-Fast-and-Stay-Loose Lucy High scores: Expressiveness 77, idea generation 87, impulsiveness 78, problem solving 100 (Translation: Lucy is very outgoing and likes to generate new ideas, solve problems, and act quickly.) Mid-range scores: Attitude 56, self 41, teamwork 47 (Translation: Lucy balances life and work, is somewhat distrustful of others, and can get along in a team.) Low scores: Administration 5, perfectionism 5, change 5 (Translation: Lucy is real loose with details, doesn’t care about being perfect, and is very easy going.) Truthfulness score: 87 (Her truthfulness score is high, which may indicate some “faking good.”) Candidate 2: Self-Centered Simon High scores: Attitude 79, self 88 (Translation: Simon values work and puts himself first.) Mid-range scores: Expressive 51, change 56, teamwork 47 (Translation: Simon is generally outgoing, tolerant of change, and gets along with others.) Low scores: Administration 5, ideas 28, impulsive 12, perfectionism 5, problem solving 28 (Translation: Simon dislikes rules, tends to be very cautious, doesn’t care about being perfect, and generally leaves problem solving to someone else.) Truthfulness: 47 (Simon’s truthfulness scores are mid range.) Candidate 3: Bulldozer Diane High scores: Idea 87, impulsiveness 78, self 88, problem solving 70 (Translation: Diane is a fast moving, idea-generating person who loves solving problems and does not mind manipulating people to get things done.) Mid-range scores: Administration 49, attitude 68, expressiveness 64, teamwork 47 (Translation: Diane generally follows rules, has a good attitude, is somewhat outgoing, and gets along in a team.) Low scores: Perfection 18, change 5 (Translation: Diane doesn’t care about being perfect and is willing to change on a dime.) Truthfulness: 67 (Diane’s truthfulness scores are mid range.) Candidate 4: Smooth-Talking Ted High scores: Expressiveness 91, idea generation 75, impulsiveness 78, self 72, problem solving 70 (Translation: Ted is a take-action, in-your-face problem solver who knows how to use people to make himself look good.) Mid-range scores: Administration 62, attitude 45, perfection 50, teamwork 47 (Translation: Ted has a general respect for rules and likes work, being perfect, and getting along with others.) Low scores: Change 26 (Translation: Change does not bother Ted.) Truthfulness: 67 (Ted’s truthfulness scores are mid range.) Comments Although there are generic management expectations, there is no perfect AIMs profile. Like everything else, the ideal candidate profile varies with the job. A good salesperson tends to score high on self-centeredness, but that same trait may be counter-productive to building a strong sales team. Basically, a high self-centeredness profile would “take over” the sale before focusing on a subordinate’s personal development. In another example, a manager who also provides expert technical advice might require much higher problem solving than a manager who functions as a people coach. Finally, rule-following for a regulated institution may be considerably higher than for a sales organization. The list goes on. AIMs patterns provide considerable insight into a candidate’s “hidden” agenda, but they should always be used responsibly.

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