Personality Traits – The Human Element of IT

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We generally explore the technical side of IT support issues, but all too often, organizations neglect an even more pertinent element: human nature. Different personality traits will approach IT (and everything else in your organization) from diverse angles, which is why Executech’s training department emphasizes understanding what motivates each employee.

On a recent Between the Bytes podcast, we spoke in-depth with Ben and Christian from our training department to get their take on personalities and training and how to identify and utilize individual strengths.

The importance of knowledge

Our Executech training team runs two critical tests for employees. Employees take the Myers-Briggs personality test on their first day and follow it up with the Clifton Strengths Finder about a month into their tenure. One of our locations is very focused on individual strengths, so they conduct the strengths test before they hire and use that data to help determine if the potential employee would be a good fit and in which department. Companies like ours mainly use tests like these to ensure we put people in places where they can succeed.

Growing up, many of us focused on our deficiencies. The purpose of strengths finding is to look at an employee’s strengths and then play to them because by doing so, they’ll use more of their innate talents and are more likely to succeed and be happy. When employees are happy, they feel appreciated. That makes them want to stay and build a career instead of seeing your organization as just a temporary stop.

Christian, for example, has a bit of a superpower of guessing people’s personality types by asking basic questions and then structuring their initial onboarding to fit their personality. He was able to instantly bond with someone who shared his personality type by talking about outdoor hobbies. This isn’t psychoanalyzing people. It breaks the ice, helps new employees relax, and begins to forge connections that can be developed in the future. We all know how stressful the first day on a new job can be; helping new employees relax can set the stage for success.

Why these particular tests?

With so many personality tests out there, how does an organization determine which one or ones are the right combination for their needs? At Executech, our team used a combination of tests that they had used in the past and culled those that worked well for our local teams. The Strengths Finder test, for example, was well-received at a corporate leadership retreat, and the fact that the Sacramento office used it effectively encouraged the company to use it more widely.

We’ve found that the benefit of these particular tests is their ability to label the approach someone takes to new tasks – whether professionally or personally. Once you understand that approach and its inherent strengths, you know what motivates the individual and how to help them thrive. For example, if you have several trainers and you know that one is very INFJ, there are certain personality types that they would be better at training than others. You look at the characteristics of each individual and how they tie into each other during interactions.

At the same time, it’s critical not to put yourself in a box based on personality type because that’s not the sum of who you are. It might offer a good description of some of your tendencies and the ways you view the world and take in that information. When it comes down to it, just because I’m an INFP doesn’t mean I’m the same person as the guy that came in last week who was also an INFP. So, one of the first things we tell people when we give them these tests is to ensure they don’t lock themselves into a box. We see the test as a way to get them thinking about what they enjoy and how to maximize what they get from training.

Real-world implications for IT training

At Executech, boot camp is the first week when people start. Our training team looks at who will be in each session and their personality-dictated learning tendencies to better adjust what that first week looks like for each cohort. For example, we had one gentleman who was struggling during training. When we gave him a personality quiz, we discovered he needed someone to provide him with direction. As soon as we gave him direction, he became a rock star. He did a complete 180. It was just that learning style that was holding him back, and as soon as we found that out, training was a completely different experience for him.

Some of our field offices have had people who may have been in the wrong department. They looked at their strengths and said instead of being a field technician, if they go into professional services, that will help them be more successful. So they’ve moved them into a different role, and that person has taken it off because that role fits their strengths better.

Friction points are another place where personality knowledge can help. On the strengths finder, we have a cascade that allows us to enter different people and automatically tell us what their friction points are likely to be according to their strengths. If you have two team members who clash, it can help to analyze it and say this is what we can do or adjust to help them work together better.

If you want to implement these types of tests in your organization, invest the time on the front end to find the one – or ones – that are right for you. Train your key staff well, and be sure they use the information to positively impact training and employee relations but never limit anyone’s potential progress based on generalizations.

Need help thinking through what the next level of IT training can look like for your organization? Reach out to us! We’re here to help.

This article was written from one of our Between the Bytes podcast episodes; you can find all our episodes here!

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