Are you going to succeed or fail? It’s not about how good you are at the job – it’s all down to personality.
You probably think that you know yourself quite well. Perhaps you consider yourself to be intelligent, hard-working and, more importantly, ambitious. That means you are destined for the top, right?
Not necessarily. We all have three aspects to our character that are important in terms of career success:
- The bright side (the part of us that we show in interviews, for example)
- A dark side (which often comes out under pressure)
- Our inside (our core values).
While the first one might help us get a job, the last two can derail us. So how do you get a better understanding of 2 and 3?
Knowing Yourself is Key
“What is important is your reputation – how others see you and what you are known as – not who you think you are,” says Dr Robert Hogan of Hogan Assessments, which has conducted almost nine million personality profile assessments globally.
“However, the worst possible way to understand yourself is through introspection, because people lie to themselves.
“We know from our tests that there is not a high correlation between what people think of themselves and their reputations. That is why it is not uncommon for people to say ‘That is not how I see myself’ after undertaking a personality test.”
So, you need to ask other people how they see you. If you are not fortunate enough to have been personality tested by your employer as part of a recruitment process, try a 360 with colleagues and friends. Be prepared for some home truths and to really listen to this feedback.
Are you the Right Fit?
In addition to having the right personality for the job, you need to fit the organisation. In simple terms, if you want to make a difference, but your employer just wants to make profits – you will fail.
“It does not matter how talented you are, if your values don’t match the culture of the organisation you will not be happy,” continues Dr Hogan. “It is not about being right or wrong, just a wrong fit.”
So before looking for a new job, thoroughly research the organisation – not what they say are their values, but how they live them.
Know Your Derailers
The things that makes us good at our jobs, can also work against us, so it is also important to be aware of what personality traits could derail your career.
“Someone with high scores for paranoia, for example, will be really good at organisational politics,” continues Dr Hogan. “They are astute and will know who is out to get them. This can be a strength in certain circumstances but can become a problem if taken to the extreme”.
Most of us will exhibit a number of the 11 dark side personality traits identified by Hogan Assessments. So do you recognise yourself in any of these?
You have lots of energy and enthusiasm for new projects.
Derailers: You can become quickly disinterested when things don’t go according to plan and are in danger of expressing your frustrations with people and projects (often publicly).
You tend to be distrustful of others, believing they will stab you in the back if you let your guard down. This makes you attuned to the sometimes-ugly underbelly of organisational politics.
Derailers: Being trustful works both ways – you might not be able to gain anyone’s trust. You may also be too secretive.
You live in constant fear of making a mistake. Always operating with the worst-case-scenario in mind will ensure you think everything through carefully, which can be an asset.
Derailers: You may be reluctant to try new approaches or to make-decisions. As a result, people might work around you so you could be side-lined.
You believe that work is done best when people can focus in complete solitude. Which might be a great character trait if you need to focus or work on complex tasks such as computer programming.
Derailers: Locking yourself away (particularly when things get stressful) can leave you out of the loop. You may also be seen as unsympathetic or unhelpful.
You are probably liked and respective as you are polite and socially skilled.
Derailers: You might not be very productive – particularly when faced with challenges. As such you may tend to find ways to avoid and deflect responsibility.
You are inspiring, courageous and confident – great character traits for those who like to get things done.
Derailers: You might not be a good team player as bold people tend to take the credit for wins, but blame everyone else for failures and they don’t always recognise the hard work of others.
You love thrill and excitement, thrive in high-octane situations, are willing to take risks and spring into action taking on large, ambitious projects.
Derailers: Not putting in the groundwork and not considering the hard work of others who help make things happen.
You like being the centre of attention and enjoy the fame and attention of running big projects.
Derailers: Watch out for being poor at organisation, indecisive and erratic and chaotic.
Highly creative, you love to engage in brainstorming sessions coming up with solutions – often ones that are highly innovative.
Derailers: Making simple problems immensely complex, becoming easy bored by daily tasks and easily distracted. You can be seen as unfocused and impractical.
You are a perfectionist and the go-to person to get things done.
Derailers: Taking on more than you can manage which can slow down productivity. A tendency to micro-manage and you have a hard time delegating.
You rely heavily (too heavily) on other team-members hoping they will carry the project through.
Derailers: You lack initiative and resourcefulness and pass the buck – quite happy to not take any real responsibility or make any risky decisions.
The Good News is You Can Get Better
If you recognise yourself in any of these dark-side traits (perhaps you are excitable and easily bored), you now know what could derail your career.
The next step is to get professional coaching. “Just as professional tennis players get a pro to help improve their game, you can do the same,” says Dr Hogan.