Julie Ensor, Product Development Lead, Lumina Learning
Can our personality impact our performance at work? Does it make us more suited to one job than another? Let’s look at the link between personality and competency potential to discover what role personality really has in determining success in a certain job.
Using personality to predict ‘competency potential’
There is a large body of research that shows that personality influences behaviour and may either enhance or diminish the demands of different roles.
Why is this? Personality reflects a consistent pattern of behaviour influenced by our basic dispositions. While we can all flex our behaviour and act in ways that may not necessarily be aligned to our core dispositions, there will be a general tendency to revert to our natural ways of being.
Personality also influences what will energise us in a role and how we are likely to work. For example, the degree to which someone may prefer to work in a more task-oriented and independent way versus a more people-oriented and interactive way.
It is important to remember that there are no good or bad personality traits – all traits can add value to performance in some roles but can be detrimental in others. For example, the qualities that make a good sales person can be almost the opposite of those required in a research role.
But how does personality link to our competencies? The word ‘competency’ typically refers to knowledge, skills, and abilities which we recognise go beyond behavioural tendencies alone. Further, there are several ways to measure competencies – some more directly than others (e.g. performance 360s). Our selection tool, Lumina Select, is concerned specifically with measuring ‘competency potential’ – the set of behavioural characteristics that provide a foundation for a certain competency to be displayed. It measures competency potential by assessing how personality aligns with the behaviours associated with a competency.
Aligning the Lumina Select competencies to the Lumina Spark model
If we look at Lumina Select, we can see how competencies can align with different qualities of your personality. For example, the Working Together competency aligns with some of the green personality qualities, such as Collaborative, Empathetic, and Accommodating. Likewise, the Conceptualising Strategies competency aligns with some of the yellow personality qualities, such as Conceptual, Imaginative, and Radical.
But how was this measured? Why are we able to align certain competencies with certain qualities?
Personality and competency ratings – predictive validity
Lumina Select has undergone extensive validation research to determine which Lumina Spark qualities best predict potential across the 16 behavioural competencies. These selected competencies aim to reflect the diverse needs of varied job roles.
This validation research compared self-assessed personality data using Lumina Spark with 360 performance ratings of the 16 Lumina Select competencies for the same individuals.
Using this data, the Lumina Spark qualities that best predicted performance for each competency were determined. A smoothie of different Lumina Spark qualities is used to gauge competency potential. Each quality is given a specific weighting based on its relative contribution to rated performance.
The image below shows the correlations between the competency potential scores and the 360 performance ratings on those competencies.
N=215 **Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
The results of the research show that the correlations between competency potential and rated performance ranged from .20 to .39. But what does this actually mean?
How well does personality predict performance?
Correlations between personality traits and outcomes such as performance tend to range between .10-.40, although generally is it rare that correlations exceed the .30-.40 range (Roberts, 2009). This is due to the myriad of other variables that impact job performance, such as situational factors, aptitude, and motivation. The predictive validity of Lumina Select is therefore aligned to the wider academic literature, while many competencies have higher than typical predictive validity.
The aim of Lumina Select is to provide information about the personal characteristics of the candidate applying for a job to help you make more informed recruitment decisions. When Lumina Select is used in conjunction with other valid candidate information and methods of assessment such as CVs and interviews, it can add significant incremental validity to the recruitment process.
The Lumina Select validities show personality can account for up to 18% of the variance in job performance.
Personality and competency profiles across different roles
Interestingly, there are some very marked differences in personality profiles and competency profiles between jobs, highlighting the characteristics that are more prevalent in different employee groups. This may also reflect the different characteristics of individuals who may be attracted to these types of jobs and industries.
For example, in our research, those working in creative roles were higher on all four of the yellow ‘Pioneering’ competencies of Adapting to Change, Agile Learning, Conceptualising Strategies, and Fostering Creativity than the other roles.
Those working in sales and marketing were highest in Engaging and Energising Others, while those working in finance and banking came out highest on Working under Pressure, as well as many of the blue ‘Delivery’ competencies such as Pursuing and Achieving Goals and Planning and Organising.
Those working in customer service scored higher on the Working Together competency than the other roles.