There are two critical dimensions of an individual’s personality that are most responsible for how they will perform at work – “traits” and “behaviors.” Personality traits are “persisting” characteristics that are consistently demonstrated in spite of changing circumstances or environment. Because they define habitual patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion, they provide a foundation for predicting behavior.

Behaviors, on the other hand, are about the way we conduct ourselves – What we say and do, and how we say and do it. Personality traits don’t change over time, but we can alter behavior traits to a degree. A good example is, a person may be very methodical by personality trait and yet have an occasional urge to demonstrate impulsive behavior – pausing only slightly to plan that impulsive move. Or, to illustrate the same point in another way: extroversion is a trait, an extrovert sitting quietly in a meeting is a type of behavior.

Another useful distinction when discussing personality is the difference between personality traits and types. Personality types are considered to be behavioral combinations measured independently, whereas traits are measured on scales. Trait-based measurements provide a sense of relative strength and “dimension” to one’s personality.

In type theory (e.g., Myers Briggs), one prefers either one type or another – without a sense of relative strength within self or compared to others. We focus on behaviors – indicating the type of action for which a person has a natural predisposition (Empathinko Colours).

Results are often influenced by the current work environment – an accountant should be predisposed to being detail-oriented. Few focus on personality traits – getting to the core motivational level that underlies how people think, relate to others, and make decisions, despite the environment. Our personality test is one of the most accurate personality trait measuring instruments available.

When making a business decision on a candidate or employee, organizations need to ensure they’re not only determining if a person has a predisposition to do the job in question but if the person will truly be motivated and engaged in the activities required to reach the role’s objectives.

The most significant gaps in performance happen because most employers find people predisposed to do the work (or they wouldn’t have applied), but not necessarily motivated to do the job. When someone is motivated, they don’t need to be told to do the work, and they’re doing it because they get excited by it.

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