The Importance Of Understanding Employee Behavior

People-related issues can tear at the fabric of a company. They chip away at even the most solid foundation built on the best products and services. In our last article,“1 Simple Step To Hiring And Retention In Ag Retail,” we discussed the positive impact that assessments can have on hiring and retention. In this article, we will dig deeper into how that same information will not only improve hiring, but will also boost teamwork amongst the employees, increase effectiveness of supervisors, assist with succession planning, and enhance the overall performance of your organization.

The Power of Understanding Behavior


Behavioral assessments are revealing, powerful, and relevant to making better hiring decisions. However, once those employees are on board, having a solid grasp — built on actual data, not observation — of how each employee can be expected to behave in a given role or work situation, how to interface with them, and understand what motivates them, will allow you to anticipate, manage and resolve issues long before problems crop up.

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The behavioral challenges managers face today are intensified by the increasing complexity of the work environment with remote employees, talent shortages forcing employers to “move up” less experienced employees,  business complexity requiring diverse teams of employees (sales, technical, accounting, administrative, etc.) to work very closely together, and the fast pace of technological changes.

Despite the massive shifts in today’s business, one key success factor remains constant: Leadership. The ability of your management team to manage this diversity in style and experience is more important than ever with decisions made in these cross-functional teams. Unlocking this leadership potential of your employees will drive your company to be a leader in your marketplace.

When you consider these challenges, the closest thing to a “silver bullet” that a manager can possess is a clear understanding of their employee’s behavioral style. Their ability to effectively manage is dependent on recognizing what makes your employees tick, and their ability to apply them to several of the most essential leadership skills they need to succeed.

Interviewing Skills. A good leader must be able to identify and hire the right candidates to begin with. The impact of making a poor choice can take a heavy toll on the morale and productivity of the entire team. Understanding a candidate’s behavioral style and integrating that into your interview process and overall hiring decision making will enhance your hiring success by over 70%.

Communication Skills. It’s easy to recognize that all managers with the ability to lead and inspire others have to first be effective communicators. However, it’s not always easy to understand what it takes to be an effective communicator, and just what you must do to be good at it. To be an effective communicator you need to understand a person’s style and how they want to be communicated with.

However, understanding how they DO NOT want to be talked to, or presented information, is perhaps even more important. Failing to recognize what “turns an employee off” will create conflict, disengagement, turnover, and the all too common feeling of your words falling on deaf ears.

Performance Management. Leaders need to be effective in the three stages of performance management:

  1. Establishing clear, specific, and measurable goals.
  2. Coaching team members to meet those goals.
  3. Fairly appraising performance.

Many leaders struggle with the process of setting goals and coaching for performance based on how the employee wants to/needs to hear it. Knowledge of styles will help any leader adapt to the needs of each employee, and will significantly assist their ability to lead and motivate. Without the ability to tailor performance management to the individual, employees will struggle and never receive from their leader what they most need to excel in their jobs.

Employee Development. When a leader understands each person on their team, and what their future goals and dreams are, they help them look for opportunities to help them grow and develop further. However, what every manager knows is that despite years of experience, not every top sales person will perform well as a sales manager, and not every operations employee has the style to lead an operations team.

In order to help them achieve their potential, you need to start with their behavioral style so you can direct their future to roles that are a good match and/or help them recognize the gaps between their style, and what is required, so they can learn to be more effective in the future. By default of using behavioral analysis in hiring, organizations with this information on their employees have a much more effective succession planning process, than companies without this insight.

Ability to Encourage Engagement and Innovative Thinking. Employees don’t want to just be told what to do when a problem arises. They want to feel like a partner who can contribute solutions and valued ideas. They want to be heard and acknowledged. Effective leaders must have the ability to encourage a climate of innovative thinking, ownership and engagement by encouraging everyone on the team to consistently contribute in a way that matches their style. This can help your organization solve problems, reduce cycle time, and enhance the experience of your customers.

The Golden Rule is Wrong!

The Golden Rule tells us to treat others as we would like to be treated.This sounds okay, but do you think that a reserved person really wants to be treated in the same way as a highly expressive or outgoing person? Or does a dominant and driven person on your team want to see the same type of reports and communications as the analytical person on your team?

No way! So what you have to do is to remember the spirit of the Golden Rule and apply it to this: Treat others as their style indicates they would like to be treated.

People are your biggest and most expensive asset. Some of them might drive you crazy, but all of them drive your business, so you need to understand them. In less than 15 minutes of an applicant or employee’s time, your management team can gain valuable insight to use every day to establish the understanding they need to take your employees and business to the next level of success.