Emily Marsh August 22 2018

Personality, adaptability and learning styles in the workplace

The rapid pace of change in businesses today means employees need to be ready to grow and adapt to their evolving job roles and responsibilities. An employee's ability to do that comes down to their personality and learning style.

The rapid pace of technology advancements means change is the norm for organisations today. And this has important implications for your people.

As new technologies are introduced into your organisation, your employees need to be able to adapt to changing ways of working.

With this being the case, it's becoming more difficult to identify and hire the ‘right’ person for a role, as that role won’t look exactly the same in two, five or ten years time. You need someone who will be able to grow and adapt to the changing role.

And an individual’s ability to do that comes down to their personality and learning style.

Personality and learning styles

An individual’s personality can tell us a lot about how they learn. It can tell us how motivated and interested they are likely to be when it comes to adapting and learning new ways of working, as well as how they best process new information.

Take Tessa for instance. Her role as a teacher has evolved significantly over the last 30 years; from wooden flip-desks, textbooks and overhead projectors - to iPads, iClickers and virtual reality. Tessa’s ability to adapt to new technologies and systems is crucial if she wants to continue to succeed in her role.

Tessa's personality profile shows that she scores high on Affection. This means she’s generally open-minded and receptive to learning new things. So she’s likely to welcome a new system that will benefit her students. She also scores high on Emotionality and will be driven to do the best she can. However, she may lack confidence and worry about whether she’s up for the challenge.

Tessa is also high Energy, and therefore likely to learn best through direct experience. She likes working alongside others, so group learning sessions would probably suit her best. And being able to talk to others about the new system throughout the learning process will help her become more confident in using it.

The manager’s role

If Tessa’s managers understand her preferences,they can create an environment where she is able to learn in the best way for her.

Knowing her personality traits also gives her managers an insight into how she’ll respond to feedback. Tessa’s personality indicates that she has a strong desire to do well, which means any negative feedback will be taken seriously and accepted in the spirit it is meant.

And once the new system is in place, she’ll want to know the impact it’s having and how it’s contributing to the ‘big’ picture of supporting her students.

Personality assessments, like Facet5, give managers a clear steer on how best to support their people when learning and adapting to changes in the workplace.

Is there an ‘adaptable’ personality?

Psychologists have debated whether ‘adaptability’ is a personality trait in itself. Some people are simply more adaptable to situations than others. But this doesn’t mean we can’t learn to be more adaptable.

Adaptable people tend to be those who understand what it is that makes them who they are. These people acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses and use them to their advantage. For example, if someone scores high on Control and is aware of their preference for order and structure, they will be better able to manage their emotions when confronted with a future different from the one they had planned.

Adapting to new processes and systems is par for the course for employees today, whatever industry they work in. To stay current, employees need to learn new skills and be adaptable.

Personality helps us predict how people are likely to respond to these changes in their job roles. And enables us to help them develop coping strategies. Personality also gives us an indication of their preferences for learning. And if we understand this, we can support them by creating an environment that allows them to learn new skills in their preferred way.

Ultimately, understanding the personalities of your people helps you create more adaptable employees. And highly adaptable employees will be happier and more satisfied in their roles, make better leaders, and will be more valuable to your business.

Beyond the Personality Test

Subscribe to insights from our blog here:

Would you like to know more?

How would you like to start a conversation?