Does My Personality Let Me Off the Hook on Performance?
Four personality traits that may make a difference.
June 27, 2011
We study and teach on diversity, an element of which includes exploring personality differences and team work. It is fun to watch people realize why each of their team members behaves the way that they do — and to see them forgive one another for irritating habits and accept each other’s differences.
What we are often asked, though, is to what degree should you accept behaviors that don’t seem to “fit” on your team, when the behaviors are attributed to innate personality preferences. Asked another way – does your personality or the way that you were created, let you off the hook for some things that are traditionally expected in your job?
For example, certain personality types prefer a spontaneous, flexible life, staying open to new possibilities. They tend to let life happen and avoid anything that feels too structured or orderly. They may act as if they have all of the time in the world — where others with a need for more order and planning may view their more flexible, laidback colleagues as lacking a sense of urgency, being messy, disorganized or not structured enough.
In public accounting, having a high sense of urgency, where deadlines are prevalent and a commitment to order and accuracy (like keeping workpapers in a certain order and making sure everything ticks and ties) are characteristics that are valued. Does that mean that a person can’t succeed in public accounting if they don’t have these characteristics? Or, should the firm accept the person’s tendency to gravitate away from structure and find a way to augment them with some “orderly” assistance to enable them to meet the structure and timing-driven requirements of the job?
To help you decide, let’s explore four ideas related to people, personality and performance:
What’s the Answer to the Headline Question?
So, my answer to my title question is “No.” Your personality preferences and other character traits that make you special and unique don’t let you off the hook for meeting the performance expectations of your position.
Ideal teams have people with different personality attributes and preferences so that some will lead and others will follow, some will sell and others will deliver and some will take risks, while others express caution. Great leaders strive for diversity without sacrificing their team’s commitment to perform and deliver results.