Personality May Determine Employee Engagement

Interesting insights from the HBR, like emphasizing positive personalities in the workforce can harm leadership feedback loops:

If leaders turn employee optimism and resilience into a key hiring criterion, then it becomes much harder to spot and fix leadership or cultural issues using employee feedback signals.

And then they double-down on this assessment of overly positive personality and engagement, suggesting unhappy people may be the ones you should prize the most in your hiring practices:

…the most creative people in your organization are probably more cynical, skeptical, and harder to please than the rest. Many innovators also have problems with authority and a predisposition to challenge the status quo. This makes them more likely to complain about bad management and inefficiency issues, and makes them potentially more likely to disengage. Marginalizing or screening out these people might seem like a quick win for engagement, but in most organizations these people are a significant source of creative energy and entrepreneurship, which is more difficult to get from people who are naturally happy with how things are. To some extent, all innovation is the result of people who are unhappy with the status quo — who seek ways to change it.

Innovation is the result of people who are unhappy, and seek ways to change?

That makes perfect sense, although I feel happiness in making a change is underrepresented in this context. Startups are notoriously more creative, yet also happy, places because they’ve shifted past the unhappy part about the status quo. So it seems more like a cycle is happening, engaged and happy after being unhappy and disengaging, instead of a linear line to be measured.

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