I recently read an article by Business Daily that blew my mind – it was called “The Cost of a Bad Hire.” Some of the statistics on bad hires and the cost they have for agencies were surprisingly high. This sparked an interest in me on the topic of personality versus experience and whether one outweighed the other or if they were equally important.
In my research, I ran into the same 5 personality traits over and over that identified a bad hire. This blog analyzes each of those traits. They are:
- Narcissistic or needing excessive applause
- Stubborn or unwilling to change
- Overly negative or frequently unhappy
- Quick to blame or speak ill of others
Narcissistic or needing excessive applause
"Someone who is too full of him or herself is toxic to a team," says John West Hadley, principal and career search counselor at John Hadley Associates.
The narcissistic personality profile is often characterized by one assuming their own grandeur and others’ shortcomings. Narcissists find it especially difficult to work in the context of a team – they don’t like to share work, because they reason that if they do 100% of it, they also get 100% of the recognition for success. When placed in an environment where they HAVE to work on a team, there’s likely to be friction between them and others and they’ll frequently complain about the incompetence of others’ work. Narcissist personalities are also likely to disrespect boundaries and invade the privacy of others.
Stubborn or unwilling to change
This personality type also has a lot of difficulty working within a team. They struggle to take into consideration other people’s opinions and frequently push back on new ideas and methodologies. This personality can be difficult to manage, as they require frequent conversations about changes they’re unhappy about, which slows down the team and creates a sense of anger or bitterness on their end, as they feel like their opinions are not sufficiently validated. Those with this personality are inflexible and rigid in their thinking.
For companies that thrive on innovation, this personality is especially dangerous, as stubborn people tend to impede creativity. Furthermore, this personality type is susceptible to believing they already know everything they need to know to do their job effectively; this is especially true if they have a lot of experience in the industry or role they’ll be occupying. While the experience is helpful, it can be a double-edged sword because their perception of their abilities gives them a perfect reason to not embrace innovation.
This personality is notable for its use of experience and knowledge as a crutch or excuse to avoid change.
Overly negative or frequently unhappy
At Leading Results, we’ve worked diligently to establish core values, and our core values drive all the business decisions we make and keep us on the path to serving our clients. One of our central core values revolves around team dynamics and the way we communicate and interact with each other. We affectionately call this our “No Eeyores” rule.
Eeyores shoot down ideas and come up with reasons things can’t be done rather than find ways to do them. They often feel overwhelmed and blame this feeling on the previous implementation of bad ideas. They’re frequently upset at clients, coworkers, and projects; an Eeyore can even view success negatively.
Overall, this personality type is a significant drain on your productivity. Their lack of optimism and ability to find problems rather than solutions lead other team members to lose focus on innovation and the growth that comes with new solutions. Their anxious and unhappy energy can drag down team morale and cause even really good employees to underperform.
According to Trevor Blake, author of Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life, “If you’re pinned in a corner for too long listening to someone being negative, you’re more likely to behave that way as well.”
Quick to blame others or speak ill of others
This personality type is notorious for quickly placing the blame on others when something goes wrong. They respond to conflict with defensiveness and finger pointing and rarely take responsibility for miscommunications or unaccomplished tasks.
This type of employee can create distrust in your organization and lead to a significant breakdown in communication. Furthermore, their inability to recognize of their own involvement in failures leads to a repetition of the failure and drags down productivity.
Robert Sutton, a best-selling author, has dedicated his life to getting rid of workplace “a-holes.” In his book The No Asshole Rule, he highlights several factors that showcase the true cost of having this person on your team:
- People suffer physical & mentally: “Employees with abusive co-workers quit their jobs at accelerated rates, and those still trapped in their jobs suffered from less work and life satisfaction and productivity, trouble concentrating at work, and mental and physical health problems.” – (Abuse can take the form of bullying, being put down, being talked about untruthfully or in a way that is demeaning.)
- Negative experiences linger: “Negative interactions had a five-fold stronger effect on mood than positive interactions.”
- It causes more turn over than you think: Research in the UK showed that “25% of bullied victims and 20% of witnesses quit their jobs.”
Gossip creates a culture of distrust and an “everyone for themselves” atmosphere. Gossip can destroy relationships among team members, shatter trust, create conflict throughout the team, and negatively affect how people do their jobs. “In a workplace where gossip is pervasive, employees may not trust anyone and may feel uncomfortable working closely with colleagues for fear they'll learn something about them and use it to spread rumors.” (The Nest) Workplace gossip also distracts employees from their job duties and leads to a corporate culture in which employees spend more time talking about one another and worrying about what is being said than focusing on productivity and meeting company objectives.
This is perhaps the most dangerous of all the personality types, as it leads to a breakdown in trust and no team can operate efficiently if there’s a lack of trust.
“He said-she said” games become a spiral of anger, anxiety, and fear that destroy the team’s happiness level and quickly leads good employees who love what they do out the door.
“A 2013 study of more than 6,000 hiring managers and HR professionals by CareerBuilder found that 27 percent of U.S. employers who reported having made a bad hire said that mistake cost their companies more than $50,000. That being the case, it may be time for hiring professionals to rethink whom (and what) they’re looking for.” (Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/269491)
A Tool to Help You Avoid a Bad Hire
As with many things in life, however, there are gray areas in assessing whether someone who exhibits one of the personality traits above is worth hiring, so it may be helpful to use the DiSC assessment when assessing candidates. The DiSC profile is a non-judgmental tool used to discuss people's behavioral differences; if you participate in a DiSC program, you'll answer a series of questions that produces a detailed report about your personality and behavior.
The DiSC assessment introduces four personality types: Dominant (D), Influencing (I), Steady (S), and Compliant (C). Your “letter” provides a comprehensive overview of the way you think, act, and interact.
Sometimes it can be helpful to hire a consultant to walk you through the assessment and help you interpret it to improve team dynamics and overall success. (If this is of interest to you, we recommend Mary Elizabeth Murphy – she did an assessment for our company that was fantastic.)
We recommend utilizing personality tests to help you determine if someone will be a good fit for your organization as well as to understand a person’s motivation, triggers, and the best approach to working with their personality type.
Ultimately, we cannot emphasize the importance of hiring the right personality enough. In a recent article, Richard Branson, business magnate and investor, spoke about the benefits of hiring for personality and experience.
"In my eyes," opines Sir Richard, "personality always wins over book smarts. Company knowledge and job-specific skills can be learned, but you can't train a personality."
We firmly believe that is accurate. Hiring the right people is largely contingent on having very clearly defined core values that enable you to make tough decisions. Sometimes the benefits of a super experienced person aren’t worth the negative impact on company culture. In the long run, you may be susceptible to losing some of your best assets and slowing down productivity as a result of a hiring someone who doesn’t fit your culture.
Here are some hiring tips:
- Balance experience and personality – personality matters more than you think
- Establish guidelines for how employees should treat each other and establish consequences for non-acceptable behaviors
- Establish a “no tolerance” policy for hurtful gossip and out-of-line commentary
- When necessary, cut your losses and fire the person – prolonging the relationship with a bad culture fit will only damage the team further
Just like choosing the right employee, choosing the right agency to market your business is very important. Download our checklist to help you find the best agency for you!
- https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/251614 (Infographic)