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Recruiting Engaged Employees - 11 June 2015

Almost all of the research conducted on engagement has so far focused on what leaders can do to engage their employees.  But what if it were possible to recruit people who could actually engage themselves?  In other words, are there specific characteristics some employees have that make them inherently more engage-able?

The answer, of course, is yes.  And that has just been demonstrated in a new study conducted by psychologists at the University College London.  The researchers assessed over 1000 adults and they discovered there are seven personality traits that predict whether an employee is more likely to be engaged.  The results are as follows.

Emotional intelligence:  This is the biggest predictor of engagement.  It reflects employees who can control and understand their own emotions as well as those of their colleagues.

Openness to experience:  This is the second-biggest predictor.  That’s because employees brave enough to embrace new opportunities have higher reserves of resilience.

Extraversion:  Extraverted people are less likely to be affected by emotional exhaustion and cynicism, the absence of which ramps up their energy.

Conscientiousness:  Conscientious individuals are predisposed to being engaged because they’re less likely to allow interferences to get in the way of their commitment. 

Interpersonal sensitivity:  An interpersonally sensitive team member is one who can maintain sound relationships with colleagues and can communicate in a tactful manner.

Adjustment:  If an employee has the ability to remain calm under pressure, that individual is said to have a high rate of adjustment.  And subsequently greater engagement.

Ambition:  The more competitive someone is – or the more they aspire to progress further in an organisation – the more inclined they’ll be to push themselves into an engaged state.

So what does this mean from a recruitment perspective?  Four things.

    1.     Incorporate questions into your interview guide that enable you to ascertain the degree to which a candidate is high on those seven attributes.

    2.     Since emotional intelligence is of supreme importance, consider including an EQ questionnaire as part of the recruitment process.

    3.     Be mindful you’re not over-emphasising aptitude over attitude in your hiring decisions.  Those seven traits could outshine any technical shortfalls.

    4.     Think about providing developmental opportunities to your current employees so they, too, can learn how to adopt those characteristics.

It’s also worth considering whether you, as the leader, are high or low on those attributes.  A good place to start is with emotional intelligence.  Because there are few things more disengaging than an emotionally unintelligent boss.


To download complimentary e-books on employee engagement, retention, and recruitment (valued at over $100), please click here.

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