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Understanding and Avoiding Conflict using Personality Data

Scott Tremper
May 12, 2016 · 4 min read

Not everyone gets along.

It’s something we all quickly learn in life, that even the friendliest people will eventually find someone with whom they butt heads. Thankfully, for the most part, we can identify these issues (or people) and steer clear from them in our own lives.

Now, what happens when this conflict arises in the workplace, where it can be impossible for two differing people to not collide? If you’re a regular of the Traitify Blog, you probably know where the solution may lie: Personality. But before we look at ways to understand why conflicts occur and how to avoid them, it’s important to look at the many reasons to eradicate them within your organization.

Why It Matters

This initially seems like a question with a pretty obvious answer. Clearly having conflict within the workplace is not a good thing. It cause employees to engage in negative activity and puts their focus onto the issue at hand, rather than create productive business output.

However, moving past the initial loss of productivity, conflict (especially when left unresolved) can lead to some devastating long-term effects. An inevitable consequence will be reduced happiness, and according to The Wall Street Journal, low levels of happiness at work are considered to be the number one reason for employee turnover. Put this hand in hand with research from ERE Media, where replacing an employee can cost anywhere from 30%-400% of their annual salary, and you’re looking at not only the potential loss of a great worker, but also a huge financial burden as well.

“And that’s when he told him he could take his report and…”

The involved parties aren’t the only ones affected either. Joseph Grenny, co-founder of VitalSmarts, estimates that “conflict wastes about eight hours of company time” with other distractions, such as watercooler gossip. The more an issue grows, the more your productivity shrinks.

Calming The Storm

So what can be done to help prevent poisoning the well with conflict? As I mentioned in my opening, personality helps, or more specifically, personality assessments. Personality assessments help to get a grasp on the underlying disposition of employees, and some assessments can even help identify conflicting personalities (spoiler alert: it’s ours).

By identifying the personalities within your organization, you’ll start to understand what might cause a clash. Robert Stevens found that conflict driven by personality “can be the most volatile” and tends to revolve around someone not truly understanding the motivations and reasoning of the other person.

Being aware of each individual personality (as well as your own) can not only help to avoid conflict, but it can even bolster your organization. For example, bold personalities with visionary ideas often don’t take kindly to having a similar personality to work with, especially if they aren’t in charge. “Too many cooks spoil the broth” speaks here, where a team needs to be led in one direction, not several. Not only will your final product benefit from this, but you’ll also find a happier and more satisfied team as well.

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Another lunch order successfully placed!

Perspective is quite possibly the most crucial element of dissolving conflict. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, introverts are often seen as lazy and disinterested in their work due to a tendency to internalize thoughts, and they engage only they feel they are offering up a solid solution to a problem. Leadership roles tend to be more vocal and action-driven, which can produce conflict for the introverts, unless they truly understand the differences between their own personality, and that of their employees, and embrace these intricacies.

To Infinity & Beyond

One additional piece to consider is giving personality assessments to not only your current employees, but potential new hires as well. Scott Huntington encourages hiring for personality instead of experience, noting that hiring personalities that don’t fit within your existing culture is “…like trying to force a square peg into a round hole. You’re never going to succeed, leading your business to suffer for it.”

There’s a reason why, “80 percent of Fortune 500 companies” use personality assessments. While large businesses will inevitably pick up a bad hire, the longevity of your organization is dependant on the lifeblood of people that power it. Understanding your employees is a key to success, and being able to reduce conflict with this personality data is a one of the best ways to ensure you don’t crash and burn.

Interested in finding where your own personality will have conflict? Try out our career assessment at Ready to use personality assessments within your organization? Sign up for a free trial of Traitify Dash today.

Traitify Blog

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