HR Consultant Cathryn Foreman shares her thoughts on personality types, and how these can affect workplace motivations.

We are at that time of the year when we perhaps start reflecting on the achievements of the past year and planning what we may need to do next year, from both a personal and work perspective.

There are also certain traditions that arise at this time – the final of Strictly Come Dancing, the final of X Factor and the announcement of the winner of the Sports Personality of the Year. Some, or all, of which will have been of interest to many of us.

While all three result in an overall winner, it strikes me that they are three very different events. As HR or L &D professionals, we should perhaps consider what we can learn from these and how we should reflect the differences in our talent management programmes.

Sports Personality recognises those individuals at the top of their game. Absolute professionals. Driven. Determined. Very strong work ethic and above all – competitive. While they typically will have a team behind them to guide, support and provide advice, ultimately it is the effort, talent and determination of the individual that leads to their success. I would argue that money is not a motivator and it is their desire to be the best that drives them; they would succeed regardless of the prize at the end. And, they continue to succeed – it is not about quick wins or short term success.

X Factor is somewhat different. The people taking part here have, it may be argued, considerably less talent – and in the early stages, very little talent! Their motivations and drivers are different. While they may want to develop their career, it would be fair to say that many are driven by the desire to be famous rather than to become excellent. They want a quick win, with less hard work and time commitment. Their success, with a few exceptions, is likely to be much shorter term. They typically do not have longevity and, in a few years, many of them will be forgotten.

Strictly is, for me, what learning and development should be focussed on for the large majority of people. Nurturing. Encouraging. Showing patience and supporting people to reach their potential – even if theirs is at a completely different level to someone else.

Ed Balls was a star. He was never going to win or be the best, but he embodied what Strictly is about. Learning a new skill. Embracing the opportunity. Developing a real passion for the subject and then delivering to the best of your ability. Louise was another example of someone who developed, gained confidence and blossomed.

So, what should we take from all this? We need to recognise that in our workplace we have people and personalities that fit into all the above categories. So, when thinking about our L & D strategy, we need to recognise that it may not be a one size fits all. All organisations will have a combination of each and, to get the best from your people, you need to consider whether they are a potential Sports Personality of the Year, X Factor winner or Strictly contender.

I know where I sit most naturally, do you?

Cathryn Foreman, HR Consultant