Understanding Your Employees Better with Persona Research
- October 18, 2021
When you understand your employees’ personas, using a talent profile, you can leverage that data to improve self-awareness, enhance team collaboration, elevate emotional intelligence, actively manage culture, and make better hires.
Chances are you’ve heard of customer or buyer personas before. Basically, they’re profiles that define the segments within your target audience — used for discovering ways to better connect with potential customers and improve brand engagement. Once reserved for marketing, sales, and product organizations, the persona profile is now just as essential to HR and people leaders. The only difference? The customers are your employees, and these personas are the key to team performance and productivity.
The Origins of Personality Personas
Archetypes are universal, inborn models of people, behaviors, or personalities that play a role in influencing human behavior. They were introduced by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who suggested that these archetypes were archaic forms of innate human knowledge passed down from our ancestors. In Jungian psychology, the archetypes represent universal patterns and images that are part of the collective unconscious.
Jung believed that we inherit these archetypes much in the way we inherit instinctive patterns of behavior. He identified four major archetypes but also believed that there was no limit to the number that may exist. Of the four main archetypes described by Jung, one was the persona — or how we present ourselves to the world. The word “persona” is derived from a Latin word that literally means “mask.” It is not a literal mask, however.
The persona represents all of the different social masks that we wear among various groups and situations. Over the course of development, we adapt and behave in certain ways in order to navigate society’s expectations and norms.
The Four Lenses of Measurement
In practical application, an employee persona derives from this thinking and is the sum of one’s psychometric self-assessment. This sum is called a Humantelligence talent profile and details a team member’s behaviors, motivators or values, work energizers and life priorities — using three primary business archetypes or personas.
In this example, we generated employee Victoria’s talent profile, measuring her behaviors, motivators, work energizer, and life priorities against 28 different psychometric traits. The personas are labeled icons that identify her predominant motivational and behavioral preferences. They are intended to be memorable and useful for framing developmental discussions and in team-building applications. They help sum up the “why and how” of what she does. Here, she shows to be 58% Thinker, 26% Maverick, and 16% Scholar — those percentages reflecting the intensity of each of the three personas relative to each other.
The Benefits of Using Personality Archetypes and Personas
Like the traditional customer/buyer persona, your employees’ talent profiles — and their dominant personas — are valuable on many levels — and unlike the buyer’s persona, your employees’ persona summary is specific, personalized, and measured. As a result, use of this kind of data is nearly limitless. Here are just a few of the high-impact ways employee talent profiles are valuable.
Once reserved for the executive level and requiring extensive consultation and workshops, deep insight into how you prefer to think, engage, and apply one’s self is available for all employees. It’s that kind of self-awareness — when people better understand their success factors and are more deeply engaged in their work — that helps them leverage their strengths and more easily identify the kinds of opportunities that best align with their professional motivators and career goals.
Accurate self-knowledge is the key to getting what you want out of life. And with a talent profile that goes deep into your behaviors, motivators, work energizers, and life priorities, employees can see their tendencies in real-life action and get the right guidance to help them achieve your goals.
Improve Collaboration & Elevate Emotional Intelligence
So you’ve helped your team members become more aware of their tendencies. Great!
Now, it’s time to leverage these predominant behavioral themes for your team to achieve better communication and collaboration — and that starts with elevating emotional intelligence across your team.
Imagine being able to take emotional intelligence insights from your team members’ profiles and put them right where employees communicate most often — think meetings, chat, and email. You’re probably already using communication technology like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Gmail, and more! But you’re probably not optimizing your use of those tools by integrating emotional intelligence for your team. With a simple integrated plug-in, you can give your staff the kind of information needed to better communicate and collaborate with one another — based on their talent profiles & personas — taking all of the guesswork out of it and allowing them to spend time on the work that matters.
You just click on meeting participants or email recipients and see real-time tips and recommendations for communicating, motivating, and influencing. Imagine knowing who best to tap on for pre- or post-meeting action items, for helping leading certain initiatives while identifying those better suited to document or support, and who might benefit from a heads up on particular messages — all of which take into account your team members’ behaviors, motivators, and work styles in an easy-to-understand way.
Now, take this data for each of your team members and roll it up. When you’re able to aggregate this data, you’ll find yourself with actionable insights into team dynamics for comparative analysis. Here’s an example of how that could look for a team.
You can gain insights into the makeup of your team in order to better understand your culture. You’ll see your team’s similarities and differences on a continuum with team strengths highlighted and potential gap identified. This kind of information can help you finally manage culture in a way to drives team effectiveness:
- Map current vs. target cultures for teams or the entire organization
- Pinpoint strengths and gaps to identify necessary shifts — what do we need more of or less of
- Understand what work motivators contribute most to your team’s culture
Then, take those team culture analytics and apply them to your hiring plans. Resumes, LinkedIn, and educational backgrounds only tell some of the story. Besides being self reported, they are limited to only showing past experiences — whereas leveraging a psychometric-based talent profile more clearly reveals a person’s fuller potential when it comes to situational behavior, actions, opportunities for improvement, communication styles, and values — now and in the future.
For each role, region/geography, and department within the same company, the needs will be different and there is no out-of-the-box formula or one size fits all approach. Each individual you add or remove from the team will play a part in your culture’s evolution. That means it’s imperative to hire individuals who share or have demonstrated the values you have identified as paramount, believe in your vision, and are excited about the work your team is doing.
Avoid recruiting cookie-cutter replicas of your current employees and rather hire for culture adds and gap fillers — those candidates who will enhance your culture, as well as bring unique and valuable experiences, and a diversity of thought to the team. When you use your team culture analytics to identify the best candidates, you’ll be able to eliminate subjectivity and streamline up to 80 percent of traditional recruiting processes, while reducing turnover costs by at least 20 percent — results your organization may have never realized without knowing your employees’ personas and talent profiles.
Want to see your team members’ and your own personas? Request your free team culture mapping below.