The impact of personality on feedback effectiveness
Feedback plays an essential role in employee management. Both that which you give your employees, and that which they can offer in return. But these professional conversations are an inherently human process. And no two people are exactly alike. So, let's look at the best ways to give effective feedback by personality type.
As a manager, the feedback you give employees helps to guide their performance. It's about recognising their strengths and contributions. But also helping them to improve and overcome personal weaknesses.
The feedback your people give you is just as essential. It offers a view of the lived experience of working in your company. And this information is vital for making organizational improvements. That's why systems for regular feedback should be two-way.
Frequent feedback is key to building trust
Trust plays an important role in the workplace. Especially when we have to collaborate with each other. Or when a manager relies on their team to reach goals and work autonomously. But it's not necessarily a given. So, how to we cultivate bonds of trust with employees? In short, the answer is feedback. But how does this work?
Both the feedback you give and that which you receive can help to grow an atmosphere of trust in the workplace. For one thing, gathering employee feedback is essential for sentiment analysis. By understanding employee sentiment, you can earn their trust by tackling issues people care about.
But it's also about the critical feedback and recognition you offer employees as their manager. If you do your job well, your team should look to you as an example of how to conduct themselves.
Helping employees to perform more effectively shows them you're a reliable source of knowledge. And recognising their accomplishments shows that you value their abilities. It also tells them you're actively paying attention to the work they're doing.
After all, feedback isn't only about patting people on the back. It's about guiding performance. That means highlighting weaknesses, not just strengths. And that's the part of feedback we can often struggle with. Whether we're providers or recipients.
Different forms of personality tests
Personality can seem like quite a nebulous concept. It can be difficult putting people in boxes when we all regard ourselves as unique. But personality tests can shed an interesting light on our habits and preferences. They aren't scientifically accredited. But people and organisations swear by the results. So, it's up to you what to make of them. To better understand effective feedback by personality types, let's look at some of the different formal tests on offer.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
MBTI tests are one of the most popular options for determining someone's personality type. And that's because the factors behind it are easy to understand. MBTI questions examine a person's balance between four pairs of opposing personality traits.
- Extraversion (E) and introversion (I)
- Sensing (S) and Intuition (N)
- Thinking (T) and Feeling (F)
- Judging (J) and Perceiving (P)
These questions establish which of these traits are dominant in an individual. You essentially end up with a four-letter code for that person's personality type.
That means there are 16 possible combinations. For example, you might find a lot of managers and senior leaders have ENTJ personalities (i.e. "commanders"). Their confidence, extraversion and sense of judgement mean they gravitate towards leadership roles. So, already, you can see how these tests can help you understand how people function in your business.
As the name suggests, CliftonStrengths personality tests are about strengths-based management. Rather than highlighting areas for improvement, these tests focus on what you're good at. The idea is that our strengths can overshadow our weaknesses. All people need is the right support and career development.
With CliftonStrengths, participants answer questions relating to 34 themes. These represent what people do best. Each theme falls under one of four categories:
- Strategic thinking: Themes like "analytical," "intellection," or "strategic." These areas address our ability to understand the bigger picture, as well as the finer points of business goals.
- Relationship Building: Strengths like adaptability, empathy and positivity. We regard many of these as soft skills. But they're essential for maintaining a healthy working culture.
- Influencing: These traits include command, communication and self-assurance. There's also one called "woo," which is basically your ability to win people over. These themes are particularly relevant to leadership. But they're also strengths from which any employee can benefit.
- Executing: Basically your ability to get things done. Themes like "achiever," consistency and discipline.
Of those 34 themes, CliftonStrengths establishes the top five for each person. And this can help you to understand where individuals will thrive the most in your business.
The DiSC workplace assessment
It's time for more fun with acronyms, as DISC assessments assess our personality in four areas
To be clear, it doesn't measure intelligence or aptitude. DiSC questions take the form of theoretical workplace scenarios. Employees choose answers based on what they'd do in that situation. It's not a process designed to judge anyone. But it can help to establish a dialogue with your employees. And, in some ways, that makes it a great way of enabling more effective feedback by personality type.
Of course there are all kinds of different personality tests out there. But it would take the rest of this article to explain them all to you. Ultimately, the three we've covered here shows the variety.
The best approaches to effective feedback by personality type
As you can see, personality can have a significant impact on how we give and take feedback. So, how do you shift the attitudes of employees, so they respond to feedback more favourably?
Asynchronicity for introverted employees
In general, we think of face-to-face conversations as an important part of performance management. And it is. But the ideal balance between in-person and asynchronous feedback varies between employees.
Asynchronicity means that a process doesn't require immediate responses in order to function. This means that people on either end of the communication channel can respond in their own time. Giving them time to process the information or gather more insights for a fuller picture. Our employee check-in system is a good example of this.
Asynchronicity can be a useful tool for delivering effective feedback for introverted personality types. Whereas extraverts thrive on social engagement, introverts can find it draining. So, asynchronous feedback can help prevent any unnecessary job stress. The flexible response time means they're able to craft their questions and answers. And that's really important for anyone who isn't confident self-advocating in-person.
Strengths-based management opens employees up to feedback
It's no secret that a lot of people struggle to take criticism well. To the point where we can't really lay it at the feet of only one personality type. Or even a few of them. But strengths-based management might just be the right approach here.
People can be cagey about negative feedback for all kinds of reasons. Some people deflect or shift blame because they struggle to take responsibility for mistakes. Others might assume you're going to rake them over the coals no matter what they do.
Strengths-based feedback allows you to coordinate people based on what they do well. And this can reduce the focus on potential weaknesses. But it also helps employees to get invested in the feedback process. When you're good at recognising their achievements, they might be more willing to listen to criticism when it matters.
Your most driven staff crave critical feedback
As good as strengths-based methods can be, they're not always the best form of effective feedback by personality type. While some personality types thrive off this approach, others are frustrated by it.
Your more learning-focused employees actively want your critical feedback. This doesn't mean that's all they want, of course. They still need recognition for their work like anyone else. They don't only want to reminders of what they've done well. And they don't want criticisms hidden by a feedback sandwich. They want informed, clear critical feedback with the ability to ask follow up questions.
Documentation prevents deflection
Documentation plays an essential role in any fair and transparent feedback process. By documenting goal progress and previous feedback, you can be more objective.
This can help get through to employees who deflect criticisms or shift blame. Being able to point to their progress reports and rates of peer recognition is a big help. It reinforces that you aren't criticising them unfairly.
And it cuts both ways. Documentation gives something to reference if they disagree with your assessment. Being able to point to their performance stats helps people self-advocate to their manager.
Trust and communication in workplace feedback
Of course, personality tests are no substitute for genuine communication. No matter how useful you find them, you still need to talk to your people.
Even your most introverted employee can benefit from a sit down chat every once in a while. And using personality testing in lieu of communication means you might label people incorrectly. That employee you thought was an introvert might be closed off due to issues at home or work.
Figuring out effective feedback by personality type isn't just about getting business results. It's a long-term well being issue for all your people. And an issue of basic fairness and accessibility for neurodivergent employees. If you want to build a culture of trust, communication has to flow in all directions. And that applies to feedback too.
A great place to start when it comes to delivering effective feedback by personality type is to check out our best practice guide: How to have effective conversations with your people. Get your copy below 👇