She’s read them, she’s vetted them and she’s placed them – with over 15 years of industry practice, Tower Group CEO, Kerry Morris, discovers a new realm of Employee Archetype – post-COVID-19 – that could be dulling our workforces, and our lunch breaks.
In the game of recruitment, personality plays a big role. Next to criminal checks, a ‘high score’ on a personality profile makes up for more than 45% of the recruiter’s final decision. As a leader in my field, I’ve pretty much trained my whole career to read people – their quirks, their edge, their humour, their work ethic – even their hidden agendas. Is it fun? Yes and no.
The blessing and the curse of knowing how to read another human being is that you’re always (generally) one step ahead of the moment but, on the flip side, you’re also – always – pre-empting the outcome of an interaction, when you should be fully present inside it.
One thing I know for sure, companies today will spend fortunes on personality profiling of their employees, their candidates and – yes – even their own families (sometimes!) just to figure out where ‘this person’ fits in – or if they’ll fit in at all. And why shouldn’t they – when the person they’re hiring will be spending 8 hours a day, five days a week, every week for almost a year in your boardroom, in your open plan, on Zoom calls and/or at the company microwave. That’s a lot of one person, for anyone.
Psychology ancestors like Carl Jung took archetypes seriously; digging deep into the psyche to uncover proven personality archetypes, that still today, help companies shape workforces into a more tolerable, productive system that has fewer pencil stabs on the agenda and more group hugs.
But here’s the thing: what happens to these employee archetypes when the world goes pop?
When a global pandemic devours the planet; when everyone – almost overnight – lives the same reality, witnesses the same traumas, experiences the same daily grind and talks the same language of fear? I’ll tell you what happens: your personality goes ‘pop’ too – and not in a good way.
Quite literally, you change. Your world changes. Your desires change. Your mind changes – constantly. Your input and output change, and suddenly – you’re not the same person anymore – which means, you’re not the same employee anymore, which means you’re not the same leader anymore – which means you’re not the same archetype anymore.
COVID-19 certainly has had its way with us – and our K.P.I’s. From where I sit, I’ve witnessed immense shifts in my colleagues and business partners, and in myself; I’ve seen erratic behaviour, childlike behaviour and even, psychotic episodes at the office.
New ways, weird habits and even warning-worthy attitudes from the least suspecting employees in the office have quickly clouded our traditional studies of personality profiling. There’s a new archetypical gamut of employees that has emerged from the ashes of our COVID catastrophe: they’re a little edgy, or a little weary, or little over-focused or a little under-focused, or too cavalier, or too ballsy or too fearful – and guess what? One of these types is you. And me.
In the old world pre-2020, Guthrie Jenson would claim these such behaviour types as ‘Difficult Employees’. Not anymore. There is no such thing as a difficult employee anymore, only a ‘changed’ employee; there is no such thing as a difficult leader anymore, only a ‘changed’ leader. Our workforce behaviour has altered beyond the profile; we’ve become a by-product of our COVID-19 war, and we are all experiencing the shifts inside. Good and ‘difficult’.
So how, as Leaders, do we manage this new ‘personality crisis’ in the office? First off, we need to recognise changed behaviour patterns in our people, and then – we need to recognise those same behaviour patterns in ourselves.
Whether we are an employee or a leader – we are all part of the #changeables economy; when life changes, we change. And we change and we change and we change some more. COVID has taught us this. Learning to recognise the change in front of us and inside of us, will not only help us perform better but will help us lead better, build better and, in turn, make room for some much-needed empathy among us.