In order to bring you the most accurate and useful information possible, Employee Selection and Development, Inc. will be issuing PRACTICAL RESEARCH REPORTS quarterly. Its purpose is to give you practical and useful information on hiring, motivating, and managing employees. Should you have any questions or want further elaboration, please contact us by email or call 800-947-5678.

Bert Zinkand

PRACTICAL RESEARCH REPORT #5 Spotting Personality Conflicts Before They Happen

Personality Trait Differences

Employee Selection and Development and Gallup have been doing retention research for since 1997. Both we and Gallup have found that 50% of the turnover experienced by companies today is caused by personality conflicts. Personality conflicts can be recognized before they happen by comparing two individuals’ personality profiles. Look for four point differences on the individuals’ trait scales. Where a four (or more) point difference exists, that trait will be a cause of stress and arguments between the two people. Usually one of the two individuals will quit within 180 days of being hired.

Example: Aggressive Trait – Assume that a manager has a score of 8 on the “aggressive” scale on his or her personality profile, and the newly hired employee has a score of 4 on their profile. After an initial, short period of working together the manager will begin to see the new hire as: working too slowly, not catching on fast enough, and unmotivated. The newly highered employee will see the manager as: too pushy, controling, and as guilty of micro-management.

Result: The newly hired employee usually quits his or her job within 150-180 days of being hired. When hiring a new employee please compare their personality profile to their future managers’ profile and search for a four point difference. By doing so, you can reduce employee turnover by as much as 50%.

We most often see personality conflicts on the following scales:

  • Passive - AggressiveEmployee Screening
  • Impatient - Patient
  • Merciless - Compassionate
  • Delegates Details - Detailed
  • Lives for Today - Goal Oriented
  • Team Player - Works Independently
  • Skeptic - Promoter

What to Do if a Personality Conflict Exists

There are many actions you can take; but here are three major things our clients have found helpful in the past:

  1. Look for a more compatible manager to assign the new employee to. Our clients have found the more compatible the manager and the new employee are, the faster they employee learns the job and becomes productive.
  2. If there is no other manager, advise the manager of the potential conflict caused by their trait differences. Then, have a “first meeting” conference with the new employee and the manager. Show them how they are alike, and how their differences can complement and help each other. Often, simply showing the two people how they can attack a problem from their own unique perspectives is enough to promote teamwork and jump start productivity.
  3. If the above courses of action are unworkable, consider a different applicant for the new employee position. In many cases, the destructive nature of personality conflicts not only affects the two people involved but the morale of the whole office.