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Consider personality diversity when recognizing workers

  • Published Wednesday, April 3, 2013, at 9:48 p.m.

A recent employee recognition survey by a global organization found that 29 percent of the 770 employees surveyed were satisfied with their organization’s recognition efforts.

The SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey also found that among organizations that had a formal recognition program, 43 percent were satisfied with their company’s efforts at recognizing performance.

How can it be that even among organizations that are making the effort and have good intentions, less than half of their employees are satisfied?

Lack of awareness and systemic prejudice against certain personality types, that’s how.

The Process Communication Model (PCM, Kahler Communications Inc.) identifies six distinct personality types, each with specific motivational needs that must be met for optimal functioning. Below is an outline of each set of motivational needs along with their prevalence in the general U.S. population:

• Recognition of work and time structure – 25 percent;

• Recognition of work and convictions – 10 percent;

• Recognition of person and sensory – 30 percent;

• Contact and fun – 20 percent;

• Lots of excitement in a short period of time – 5 percent;

• Solitude – 10 percent.

Looking over this list illustrates two problems with how most organizations approach employee recognition.

First, consider shifting the focus from recognition to motivation. Only three personality types (65 percent of the population) desire recognition at all. The rest are motivated in different ways. Motivation, not recognition, is a better area on which to focus your efforts.

A second problem is selective hearing. Most employee engagement and recognition surveys engage a limited group of personality types. The result is that we obtain a lopsided view of what people want, use this information to guide systems and processes, and end up inadvertently ignoring key employee motivators.

For example, the Gallup Q12 predominantly targets recognition of work, convictions and person.

I recently presented this perspective at the National SHRM Diversity and Inclusion conference to a room of more than 100 diversity and inclusion professionals.

While I was happy that the group overwhelmingly resonated with what I shared, I was shocked that the majority of them had never thought of personality diversity as a critical factor in the workplace.

If diversity and inclusion are important to you, consider personality as an area of greater focus.

Nate Regier, Ph.D., is a founding owner of Next Element Consulting, leadership development and communication training firm in Newton. Contact Regier at www.next-element.com.

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