Daniel Taylor June 16 2020

Emotionality in Uncertain Times

An article from t-three consultant Daniel Taylor, looking at the way the uncertain times we find ourselves in will impact individuals with high and low emotionality.

What do isolation and coronavirus mean when looking at Facet5 profiles? 

How do different profiles respond in times of uncertainty? 

Is it better to have low or high Emotionality at the moment?! 

Just some of the questions I have been asked recently by clients and those wishing to understand the impact of the current crisis on the behaviour we are seeing in the workplace...

In truth, there are many factors at play, but we can draw some basic thoughts based upon the various factor scores and how they might inspire us to lead or support people in different ways.

Primarily we need to take a look at Emotionality, as this to a varying extent governs the impact of the whole profile.  Unlike many personality profiling approaches, Facet5 takes the view that our behavioural preferences and tendencies can be influenced and modified by our Emotionality score. Emotionality is an interpretive factor – it provides a lens through which we can view and understand the other 4 factors; typically High Emotionality heightens and amplifies behaviour across a profile, while Low Emotionality tends to flatten, reduce and dull behaviour. The ‘amplification’ and ‘flattening’ affects both the strengths and the risks associated with a profile.

Where Emotionality is high (>7.5) this means an individual is likely to be more alert, vigilant and responsive to changes going on around them. But what does this mean?

Higher Emotionality scorers tend to be very tuned in to forthcoming events and like to consider what may or may not go wrong. Therefore, they tend to be great planners for contingency and spot pitfalls which others may not see. The risk of this of this however, is they can adopt a pessimistic tendency. In times of lockdown when business planning is constant, the alertness and responsiveness of high emotionality is a critical strength for businesses. 

 As a leader of people with high Emotionality scores, I would be particularly aware of how they might be feeling currently, given their tendency to feel issues personally, and their potential to be self-critical.  Higher Emotionality scorers like to improve and be the best they can possibly be, and so might place unnecessary pressure on themselves, despite times being difficult enough already.

In cases of low Emotionality (<3.5), individuals will be more relaxed, stable and consistent.

This is likely to give them a more optimistic outlook which will act as a stabilising influence in uncertain times.  Equally, they might struggle to display the necessary levels of responsiveness required in crisis situations, or may appear complacent and even overlook important details. Those in the mid-range will rarely get flustered for long periods of time but there will be some events which trigger anxiety or tension for them. For example, someone with mid-range Emotionality might be particularly anxious about the first time they have to host an inter-departmental meeting virtually, rather than in person. Their focus and tension will heighten as that specific event approaches, but will dissipate once the event has passed. As such, mid-range Emotionality will not impact on how we interpret the other four factors. However, it would be reasonable to suppose that someone with high Emotionality might start to worry about the next event as soon as the previous one has been completed, and to become anxious if they were going to be late for something, or found out that a deadline had changed.

If we look at Emotionality and how it interacts with the other factors, this gives additional insight which can be valuable for managers when coaching individuals and leading their teams in uncertain times. High Emotionality scores will make the profile overall seem more vivid, like turning up a dimmer switch on a light. This means that, in the case of high or low scores, the impact of Emotionality will be enhanced and in particular more of the strengths and risks are likely to be experienced. For example, somebody with high Will and high Emotionality will likely be even more determined in their viewpoint but potentially more inflexible. Those with high Energy and high Emotionality will appear even more passionate yet may become impulsive, for example. Equally where other factor scores are low, the risks may also be enhanced by high Emotionality; low Affection individuals may become defensive if their own position and low Control may become even more impulsive and careless. 

In the case of low Emotionality, risks of high and low scores elsewhere tend to be mitigated.  This is because emotional responses are somewhat flattened, like turning the dimmer switch to ‘low’.  Emotional spikes are far less frequent so the risks are less likely to be demonstrated. An individual with low Emotionality might have no issue with project deadlines being changed, however the risk alongside that is that managers and colleagues might worry that they are not reacting to these changes with the necessary level of urgency. 

With high Emotionality and mid-range scores, individuals may appear unpredictable.  Mid-range scores show flexibility, where responses are often conditional and based upon choice or context; if Emotional responses are more volatile we may not be able to tell exactly how somebody might respond in a given situation, as demonstrated by the Chameleon family profile.

All of the above makes a strong case for Emotionality and its role in the Facet5 profile being of great insight for managers coaching and leading teams in the current business environment. Increased awareness of an individual’s profile will inform and encourage the appropriate levels of support and challenge from a manager leading to enhanced performance and a smoother journey through the transition.

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