Forget personality. Why managing behaviour is the key to a high performing workplace.

Over the years, personality assessments have been the go to for organisations to learn more about their people.

Forget personality. Why managing behaviour is the key to a high performing workplace.

Have you ever considered the impact of ‘behaviour’ in your business? 

Currently, the UK is experiencing an elevated employee turnover rate of over 35%, costing businesses over £3 billion annually. 

The biggest challenge in business usually boils down to people and their behaviour. The way in which you, your business and your teams behave speaks volumes to your stakeholders and customers. Every touchpoint is a brand interaction that either enables you to outperform your competition (in our words, out-behave them), or not.

The problem with personality

Over the years, personality assessments have been the go to for organisations to learn more about their people. With increased competition for talent, and an even bigger pressure on businesses to get the most out of the team they do have, understanding personality is no longer enough. 

The (scientifically proven) problem is that personality becomes virtually fixed at age 5, whereas behaviour flexes over time. While the insight into someone’s personality is interesting, because it is static in nature, it renders the insight interesting but not particularly useful. To put it simply – personality is who we are, whilst behaviour is how we operate. 

When you switch from looking at personality to looking at behaviour, you can suddenly create a much more flexible approach to workforce management. How? People’s dominant behaviours flex as they take on different job roles, as they are exposed to different environments, as they are communicated with and influenced in different ways. 

For businesses, this means that you can not only understand someone’s behavioural preferences, but then influence them according to certain situations and business needs. It is this flexibility that enables businesses to employ behavioural change strategies that drive the right behaviours, and discourage the wrong ones, resulting in huge increases in team performance and bottom line contribution. 

Let’s look at a couple of examples:

In this first column of our series, we are going to look at two elements of behaviour, how they impact the workplace, and what you can do to manage them.  

Working preference

Someone’s working preference allows you to discover the environment in which they work most productively.


People whose working preference is independent will want to work alone, with total responsibility for their own work. You may have spotted these people in your team as they often are the ones who put in their headphones in to concentrate, go and work in meeting rooms, or ask to work from home – they need quiet independent time to work at their best. 


People whose working preference is proximity work at their best when working around and with others. These members of your team will be talkative and personable in the office and will often want to work with others in a group or collaborative environment. 

While personality profiling may tell you if someone is extroverted or introverted, that won’t necessarily correlate to how they work best. As a consequence, you may miss the deeper level of understanding needed to build a working environment that both fits your business and drives the highest levels of productivity. 

Level of structure 

Some of your team will crave structure and process, whilst others need variety and choices. It is important to figure out what level of structure each team member needs to perform at their best. 


People who are procedural like to follow set ways. Once they have a procedure, they can follow it over and over again, without one, they can feel lost or stuck. For your process driven people you will need to make sure there is structure, they have processes to create and/or follow, and there is a logical flow to the work they do. 


You will have other team members who are more driven by choices, alternatives and possibilities. These people are great at catching fast balls and moving between different things, but may also find it difficult to follow directions and like to create their own priorities and ways of doing things. 

Usually with personality driven insight, you may have someone who comes out as conscientious or ‘thinking’, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are procedural. It may mean they like detail, or that they need time to reflect, or that they are great at problem solving (all individual behaviours in their own right) so you may find you gloss over what they really need underneath it all without the behavioural understanding. 

More now than ever, businesses need to be agile, adapt to change and be ready to optimise teams for whatever new technology or legislation is around the corner. By focusing on behaviour over personality, you can optimise teams for more efficient working, a happier workforce and ultimately, profitability. 

Laura Weaving
Laura Weaving

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