Taking personalities into account during induction


“Personality” refers to the actions and behavior that are characteristic of each person. Even though it is considered as a relatively permanent package, it may change as a result of different stages of life. When we consider personalities in work-related situations, the relationship between the personality and learned operating models is the main thing.

We interviewed Psycon’s senior consultant Lari Koivu about taking personalities into account during induction. He perceives work personality as a package that guides a person’s actions and develops continuously as the person interacts with others. In common terms, the work personality shows in how the person operates in their work.

According to Koivu, characteristics displayed at work include the style of working, the style of learning, skill capacity, social skills and motivation. How can these be taken into account in induction?

1. Style of working

The style of working shows in a search for structures. If a person is very structure-oriented, he or she needs a detailed plan and induction goals. Unclear goals and disorganized matters may weigh them down. A low emphasis on structures may appear as spontaneity, the ability to flexibly shift from one topic to another, to adjust plans on the fly, and also often as self-confidence.

Self-confident people are more open-minded towards new things and enjoy learning to do things which they don’t already know how to do. They enjoy learning by doing and may consider a situation to be frustrating if they have to wait. Cautious people do not trust their own competence and initially want to watch what others are doing, or at least seek support and confirmation for their decisions.An insecure person, or a person prone to worrying, may also experience pressure in relation to the trial period: Is the person capable of being inducted during the trial period? Is the person competent enough? Do they meet the expectations of others?

The level of a person’s independence in their working style, and the type of support they need in their work has an impact on what kind of tasks they are suitable for. In regard to induction, this also has an impact on whether the person can undergo induction on their own or whether they continuously need the support of the inductor

2. Styles of learning

A rough division into four groups can be made in regard to learning: Some learn by learning, some by listening, some by watching what others are doing, and some by doing things themselves. How quickly and deeply a person is capable of learning has a direct correlation with their skill capacity. For example, there are major differences in how well people can apply their existing competences and link it to new competences.

A person who learns by reading is happy to dig into different manuals, guides and other material. In fact, this kind of person should be offered a variety of written material to support their induction. If natural learning takes place through discussion, the best method of induction is to discuss work tasks with co-workers. In that case, responsibility for induction should be distributed among people who are capable of and happy to communicate about different work tasks.

Some people learn by watching others work and by following their example. This is the traditional master–apprentice scenario. It would be good if such people could watch what skilled experts are doing. Then there is the group that learns by doing. For them, it is not even enough that they can watch what others are doing; they are frustrated if they are not given the opportunity to stretch their wings.

3. Skill capacity

This is the most important thing in regard to learning new things. In order to smoothly adopt new information, a person must have the capacity to process it and adjust it to new situations.

It is quite common that talented people are capable of addressing things as a whole and of understanding matters more extensively. They do not learn details by heart; they focus on the essential and are capable of practically applying the lessons learned.  Studies have shown that conscientiousness combined with talent is the best indication of work success. However, conscientiousness can be used to patch up weaker talents.

Currently, the significance of skill capacity is emphasized. Everything around is changing rapidly, and new things to learn are flooding in.  Skill capacity has an impact on how long an induction period a person needs. A very talented person may understand things very quickly. On the other hand, with a less talented person, things must be addressed at a more detailed level, perhaps through repetition.

Previous work experience also has an impact on how things are adopted.  In management, for example, experience shows through different ready-made management models. Through experience, a person accrues different kinds of learned operating models. These can also cause limitations if old operating models have to be unlearned so that new ones can be adopted.

4. Social skills

A socially active, networking person is capable of inducting themselves and of learning about the company’s real culture more quickly. The person does not necessarily need specific a plan for their induction, because the person is capable of utilizing others in the organization in their induction. However, a reserved person may need support to be included in the community.

Usually, people have a basic need to behave in a socially pleasant way. Despite this, subtle and diplomatic personalities can be identified, and also people who are eager to question things and are quite straightforward. Straightforward people may annoy their new co-workers with their style, especially if the working community or management team is not accustomed to openly addressing things and questioning the status quo. However, the working community can be prepared in advance and others can also be encouraged to engage in the discussion with the same style. All in all, it is a good idea to discuss what one’s operating method is like, and how things are usually done within the organization because the risk of conflicts is reduced by mutual awareness.

Nowadays, new employees are expected to question the company’s status quo and to highlight justified development ideas. In such situations, people are required to be courageous. Induction may also encourage people to highlight ideas. Quite often, development ideas are requested verbally and off the cuff. However, some people need time to process ideas. In that case a model where ideas can be considered and justified without a rush and described in writing could work.

5. Motivation

One of the goals of induction is to get people to commit to the organization. Ambitious people need career path information at an early stage. They want to know what can be expected before they are ready to commit. Enough responsibility must be given to such people at an early stage.

During induction, it is a good idea to together discuss what things motivate the person and on what terms the person is ready to commit. Examples of motivators may be to develop something new, to achieve results or to just receive a salary.  When the motivators are known, they can be accounted for. On the other hand, it is a good idea to understand it is impossible for everyone to commit to the organization. It is increasingly common for people to commit more to developing their own competence than that of the company. Of course, this does not mean that these people do not perform their work well during their employment at the company.

The induction period, which usually also includes the trial period, has a major impact on whether the people commit to the organization. Studies have found out that more than 50% of employees have already decided whether or not to commit themselves to the company during the trial period. In addition to a successful induction, the decision is also affected by what kind of people work for the company, how the company is managed and what kind of culture and atmosphere the company has. All these are things that are found out during the first four months.

Inductor’s choice

In the induction, different personalities meet. The motivation of the inductor is more important than his or her personality. In addition, whether the inductor is capable of catering to the inductee’s learning style and the need for challenge can be taken into account.

In many cases, the supervisor is at least partly responsible for inducting the person. Because the supervisor has a close interactive relationship with the new employee, the match between their personalities must be paid attention to during recruitment. Right from the start it is important to appoint a person to the post who is capable of cooperating well with their supervisor. This ensures that the supervisor has the preconditions to be successful in inducting and managing the person.

In practice, situations where the expectations of the supervisor and the employee do not match often occur. In that case, it would be a good thing for both to compromise a bit.  A typical situation is one where the supervisor gives lots of freedom and little feedback to an employee who would need clear instructions and a lot of constructive feedback.

How can the information in the personal evaluation be utilized to support induction?

The personal evaluation report includes a clear description of the person’s operating style, strengths and development areas. These should be utilized in induction and daily management, but also in specifying long-term development goals.

The supervisor and the person can discuss the report after recruitment.  It would be a good idea to discuss the strengths and weaknesses and to agree joint rules. This kind of discussion also highlights expectations and helps the new employee commit to his or her work.

The recruiting supervisor should also challenge the consultant and ask how the new person should be inducted and managed. The report focuses on addressing the person’s operations from the viewpoint of recruitment criteria. Therefore, not all information in support of management is found in the report.

The most important thing would be to expand the mindset; the report is not only for making the selection but can also be utilized to support management.

Lari Koivu