Perception is everything but if we are unaware of ourselves and how other people see us, we can find ourselves miscommunication and certainly not getting to where we want in life. When we know about our own personality type as well as others, we can use this as powerful information to help us get what we want in life.
“there is now considerable scientific evidence for the idea that cognitive or deep diversity – that is, diversity in how people feel, think, and act – has significant benefits for organizations” source Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
While there are many great interventions within organisations to increase awareness and drive change around social, gender and cultural diversity, one area that seems to be neglected is cognitive diversity, which looks at the deeper psychological functions of each individual.
As a coach, I wonder why organisations only look at diversity at one level. Maybe it is all too hard to factor in the time and effort or is the organisation lacking in expertise in People & Culture function within HR? Interestingly, there are really effective tools to help organisations understand the cognitive diversity of their employees.
One tool that has been around since the 1940’s, the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI), which defines and measure cognitive diversity around our four preferences for gathering information (Sensing Vs Intuition) and making decisions (Thinking Vs Feeling). It stands to reason to achieve a good well-considered decision making you need to factor in all four of the preferences as shown in the Z model image below. Which is very hard for one person to do effectively!
Yet within many organisational groups we see a lot of ‘group think’ – people who share the same cognitive style, which can at times be a positive thing for collaboration, but does not necessarily position the team for growth! Particularly if those making the decisions have not developed their self-awareness and effectively used their non-preferred cognitive functions. For example, if a dominant decision-making style is ‘Thinking’, leveraging their logic, yet they fail to tap into their ‘Feeling’ preference and consider the needs of the people around them when making important decisions.
From a workplace culture perspective, given so much of the miscommunication, conflict, and stress can be caused by different cognitive styles, providing employees with an awareness of their preferences and those around them can only be a positive thing.
Rather than simply taking in information and making decisions leveraging their dominant cognitive functions, which provides one perspective only, they can start to gain an awareness and appreciation of the other preferences, all of which are equally as valid as their own. Steering away from the mentality of ‘I am right’ and ‘you are wrong’, that there are various equally valid diverse solutions. Yet in organisations where employees are so often under stress, this can be forgotten (even if it was once known).
Take a moment to reflect on your own cognitive style? Then consider the dominant cognitive style of those in your management and leadership groups? It may be time for your organisation to consider adding cognitive diversity to its mix of diversity initiatives and professional development. This training will also give leaders an awareness of a fantastic tool that will help them understand the preferences of their team, colleagues and clients too.
For organisations, leaders, and managers interested in learning more about cognitive diversity and training & development options to develop this please visit us at Diversitasor contact us to discuss your needs.
Kelly Magowan is a Career & Executive Coach, Leadership Development Facilitator, and runs MBTI® Training programs for organisations through Diversitas. She has built a reputation as a thought leader in the careers space, regularly appearing on ABC Radio.
So often a new client comes to us because they have made a multitude of job applications and have become very frustrated about their lack of success. Some blame the recruitment system (rightly so, as there are many flaws), others dislike recruiters and often they just simply lose confidence in themselves and their ability to successfully job search. Therefore, they turn to a career coach as a last resort, in search of expert help.
Job searching is a challenging process for the best candidates, particularly with online job sites and complex recruitment process. It is time consuming and often you are writing an application for a very vague job ad. Without knowing ‘how to play the job search game’ you can dwindle away hundreds of hours and find yourself not even getting through to the interview stage. In this article we will explain some of the rules of the game and ways to increase your ‘Yes’ pile odds.
Some myths about online job applications …
Technological change has created opportunities for organisations and candidates to communicate 24/7. It has also enabled people from anywhere in the world to connect. The bad news is that this ease of communication creates the assumption that it is easy to get to interview stage. Here are some common reasons why the process is not working and some relevant examples:
The recruiter may write a vague advertisement or do not check the details and attract too many candidates or even inappropriate candidates. One example is a recruitment client who accidently marked the location for the job as Melbourne, USA, not Melbourne, Australia!
The candidate will tend to write generic one application for many jobs and avoid tailoring their application for each job. The similarity of the process may also make candidates assume the requirements for each application are exactly the same for every job. I helped a client get through to the ‘yes’ pile after their first application was rejected. By helping them write an authentic cover letter that described why they were really interested in the organisation the second application was successful.
Candidates do not read the job application instructions. Another client specifically asked for an extra piece of information in the application – a short description of their interest in this small, start up business. Only one applicant out of 60 actually submitted as per client’s instructions! If you want the role you have to follow the application instructions exactly. There is usually a very good reason why they want this information.
The technology is only as smart on recruitment as the person who entered the selection criteria in the recruitment system. Some recruitment software providers call it ‘AI’, where key word matching is a tool used to shorten a large application list. If your application does not include the key words, its unlikely it will make it to stage two, having a human review it. Once I had a client apply for a role in Australia who was originally from America. The computer system allocated my client’s application to the USA office due to an assumption based on the last role, which happened to be in USA!
I am sure that you will appreciate that there are many other reasons for lack of job application success. Watch this TedTalk on one recruiter’s experience of poor online applications for internships in Dubai and suggestions on why they were unsuccessful.
What will you do differently to make you are in the ‘yes’ pile?
Here are our top three tips to help you prepare successful job applications.
Tip #1: Take a strategic approach to your job search
One of the most important tips for job searching is to value the learning experience and start by preparing your story and exploring your interests, personality, values and strengths before setting a career direction. Then the job search is actually the marketing part of your job search, not the starting point.
Set aside some time when you have no deadlines or interruptions to review and update your resume (and your career strategy too) when you do not need it. This will take the pressure off yourself to produce something quickly when you need to make a job application. By allocating time to write your resume when you are not applying for a new job you will be less stressed and thinking clearer about what you include in your resume.
Incorporating career planning and resume updates into your year will also help you to prepare for your annual appraisal and reflect on your career progress too. Your resume is a marketing document and using the principles of ‘getting prepared before you go to market’ by clearly knowing what you want to sell, who is your likely customer, will help you create a winning resume.
Think of your resume as a database of your career history. You can create a long document that lists your key achievements and records your career moves, qualifications ready to edit down to create a tailored resume for a specific application. This could also be used for your annual career development and appraisal discussions with your boss. Think about how you can use this database to help argue your case for a pay rise too.
Tip #2: Focus on solving the hirer’s problem
A client rang me very stressed about an executive level job application and wanted resume writing help in the next 24 hours. When I reviewed the advertisement, it required a specific qualification that my client did not have. When I pointed this out to my client, they were so relieved that they did not waste their time applying for a job that they had no chance of getting.
This story illustrates that so many job seekers do not know what the recruiter wants. Often our fear of acceptance is tied up in writing a resume and we feel that the audience is judging us by reading our resume. In reality, when you apply for a job, your audience will want you to succeed as they want you to fix their problem – to fill their vacancy.
The audience, or recruiter, will have written a job advertisement with an ideal candidate in mind. So, use the information they give you to understand what they are interested in. Create a checklist to make sure that you have written about all the ‘essential criteria’ in your resume. That way you will be writing about what they are interest in and easily engage your audience.
Get familiar with your audience. Do some research on the company, find out why there is a vacancy, explore their culture and look at the profile of the people who are in the recruitment process. Company website and LinkedIn are great resources for this information. See glassdoor.com for some key employer profiles.
Using this technique will also help you to check whether you are applying for a role that is right for you too.
Tip #3: Analyse the job advertisement to avoid wasting your efforts
Read the job advertisement and position description in detail to check that you are clear on the job requirements (see the key criteria section). Then, use a checklist to make sure that you match at least 80% of the key criteria. Do not waste your time on applying for jobs that are not right for you. This exercise will keep you objective and help you to plan how you write your application too.
Use the advertisement to learn about the organisation reasons for the vacancy. Note any concerns. This is research! Get to know your job market – country, industry and profession. This analysis will also help you to reflect on why you want the job too. All important to include this in your cover letter.
Need extra help?
If you are feeling stressed about your job search in Australian and would like career coaching support contact us for a complementary initial discussion on your needs and how our coaching programs can help you to make the most of your job applications on our website.
Sue Daniels +61 417 331 162. email@example.com
Kelly Magowan +61 417 330 693 firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Like a thumbprint, personality type provides an instant snapshot of a person’s uniqueness’ Isabel Briggs Myers
Being a coach gives us the privilege of supporting inspiring professionals and executives throughout their challenging and rewarding careers. We are often introduced to a new client when they are leveraging their technical brilliance and transitioning to a leadership role. However, while the technical brilliance has taken them far, their people skills have not often been sufficiently developed to succeed as a leader. Hence, they seek the expertise of a Career & Executive Coach to help them explore and understand themselves in a safe space.
The trigger for seeking help can be a myriad of things. As they reach midlife it is natural to question who they are and our place in the world, to re-asses their values and their purpose in life. Or, it may be that they are unable to progress to the next level due to decision makers believing that they are not competent to take on people responsibility. Other drivers for help include support to undo bad career habits or to help develop or re-build more authentic relationships in their work and personal lives.
The challenge is that most of our clients have never been provided with a framework or the tools to develop high level people skills. Unfortunately, organisations often can justify technical career development training, but struggle to invest in people skills development.
Personality Profiling assessments are a well validated and reliable tool that we use to help our clients to develop their people skills and become an effective leader across all stakeholder relationships.
The role of Personality Profiling in coaching leaders
We often start a coaching program with a new client by completing a feedback session on a personality profiling assessment (MBTI, The Majors or Birkman). This exercise helps our clients to review their preferences on career drivers, their leadership style, team interaction style, how they live their life and also an indication on what might cause them stress.
The assessment provides an objective view on themselves, something that they have not often experienced. This is the first stage of being true to self and thinking about ourselves as an individual rather than labelling, just like job titles and functions.
When exploring personality preferences clients gain deep insights into how they can be more effective in their work and personal life. These insights can help clients to become focussed on their true purpose and gives them confidence to be true to themselves.
Unfortunately, society sets perceptions of what we should do with our life to be accepted. As humans, we want acceptance but sometimes we lose who we truly are in the process. Personality profiling helps us to find the right balance and be true to who we are.
Why are we afraid of finding out who we truly are?
Labels are just the beginning of understanding ourselves. Unfortunately, much of the training provided in the workplace does not go beyond the first step of describing the personality type. If a type tool is used (for example MBTI®), then describing the 16 categories is the end of the learning session. To really understand your ‘type’, you need to go beyond this and dig deeper into the analysis of the results and explore how the preferences are used for each individual. Whilst we are labelled with one of the 16 types, we actually use all of the opposite preferences too. The secret to using type is learning how each individual uses all the different preferences, and in what order.
Secondly, the type assessment helps us to understand others. By using the Type framework, we can read behaviours of other people and assess what drives them. If you are working with multiple stakeholders or leading people, this framework will be an invaluable tool to help you to read others’ needs. For example, if you are selling to someone with an S (Sensing) preference they will want evidence or data to convince them to buy. They are unlikely to tell you their preference. However, their questions or your well-crafted questions will give you clues on their preference.
Contact us to understand more about the range of coaching packages we have on understanding your personal preferences to develop your leadership skills and develop a greater understanding of yourself, your team, management and clients.
‘When your personality is aligned with what your soul is here to do, nobody can beat you at it’– Oprah Winfrey
Today’s business world is faced with many challenges of change and disruption. That, we can all agree on. However, change and major disruption is not actually new! Change that we are experiencing today is often due to technological change as well as short – termism in a chaotic environment. Is this change necessarily bigger or different than other changes our environment has had to endure in the past? Think about how world wars, disastrous weather events, political coups and corporate takeovers have reshaped reality for many people over the centuries. On a personal level, we may experience accidents that lead to disabilities and loss of a loved one at any age, which has not changed over time.
Each generation is experiencing their change in their own way and they will face challenges relevant to the current disruptions in their world. Some industries and professions will have different factors to drive their need for change. Overall, we find that many clients get stuck trying to understand the changing environment, or simply get lost in the chaos and become immobilised.
Understanding the environment
In an attempt to understand the chaos of today’s world of work, a popular term – Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA), has evolved in management speak. Initially developed in the military, this term is being used as a framework to help leaders to understand the world they operate in as well as indicate the key strengths they need to survive.
The Agile method was introduced to create effective project management skills. Is all work in today’s business world 100% project based? Are all roles temporary or changing all the time? Unfortunately, one method seems to be adopted as best practice in many work environments. In some cases, the senior management have not changed their work practices and further alienated the employees but forcing change on them. Adopting one method of work does not necessarily alter the culture in which we work or help each individual to cope with change. It seems that proper analysis of work practices, employee needs and talent management is missing from the transition to new work environments.
Coaching tools to build resilience
Whilst these terms, VUCA and Agile, are helpful to understand the environment, more needs to be done to help leaders and their teams to cope with this dynamic world and build resilience. How we experience and overcome change and chaos is an individual journey. From our coaching experience, we do not see enough proactive assistance to help individuals in their personal and professional development to build resilience before they are thrown in the deep end. Often organisations contact us after the change (or several changes) has been enforced and then they want remedial coaching when employees are not coping.
One of the key interventions that we use to help our clients cope with the world work is personality profiling tools. We use Birkman or Type tools such as MBTI or Majors to help our client really understand their behaviours, interests and needs to help them readily identify how they will build resilience to cope in a VUCA world as well as build relationships and communicate effectively to people who are different to themselves.
Being proactive and introducing professional development using personality profiling at the forming stage of teams and new recruits into the organisation will provide the tools to help everyone in the organisation prepare for and cope with the chaos. Hopefully then we can move away from the analysis of the environment and into building resilience to manage the environment effectively and create teams that successfully cope with a VUCA world.
Diversitas have supported with organisations of all sizes in developing and delivering effective career and executive coaching programs using personality profiling to build resilience for senior management and their teams. Go to www.diversitas.com.au for more information.
Cultural Chemistry is a wonderfully engaging and insightful book by Patti McCarthy who is an expert on the topic of culture. Patti has lived and worked across the globe and has assisted many an expat in her career. I have seen Patti speak and found her to be wonderfully passionate and knowledgeable on the subject of culture.
While having worked in a HR and Careers capacity with many an expat, I have found that there is always more we can learn about cultural engagement. Patti’s book is wonderfully rich in real life experiences with many tangible pieces of information that can make all our workplaces more harmonious.
It is also a valuable read for MBA students looking to work and or study abroad, as well as though who may even be finding some friction in their syndicate groups due to cultural differences.
As the title suggests, Cultural Chemistry is a terrific book for bridging cultural gaps which are ever present in our work and places of study.
When my coaching clients come to me and say that they want to be a leader. I automatically start to explore the driver for this desire. What actually do they mean by ‘leader’? Is it power to make decision for others, or have authority over others? Is it a title (noun) or a change agent (an adjective) they seek? Or is it just a trend – to be successful you must be a leader?
In the exploration with my clients on this topic I also did some research on the term ‘leader’, ‘executive’ and ‘manager’, producing interesting results. There is no simple descriptor for each of these titles. Therein lies the challenge, or possibly the reason for the confusion. Whilst we speak of leaders do we mean their title/responsibility or do we mean the act of leading (adjective).
Leadership is often misunderstood as being the same as management. Leaders in an organisation need to be able to set strategy for their team/organisation. These roles are there to motivate others and create the organisational culture. Whereas Managers have functional responsibility such as completing a technical task or managing a budget. They may have a team reporting to them who follow instructions set by the manager, who follows the organisational culture.
An Executive role is usually another term for a leadership role or a management role. Executives can be in several roles in an organisation and every organisation tends to have their own language on the hierarchy. Using names like Director, Associates, Senior… etc.
No wonder, the constant demand for new leaders is not satisfied as we are unclear on what we want these ‘leaders’ to do.
If you are seeking a leadership role I suggest that you qualify what you want to achieve as the leader/manager/executive and make sure it agrees with the hiring organisation’s definition before embarking on the role. That way you will be defining your role consistent with the expectations of the organisation.
For those looking to transition into a leadership or executive role, Diversitas offer a comprehensive worksheet to help you define your personal style and create your strategy.
Author: Sue Daniels is a Director of a Career Consulting business and has extensive experience of designing innovative career development programs in the university sector at Melbourne Business School and for the London Business School. Sue has served seven years on a not for profit board and has a background in international investment management.