How to Predict People’s Behavior Two Steps to Determine Personality and Maturity
For years now, I have been plagued by the question: How can people’s behavior be predicted?
As leaders, we are in the business of delegating responsibilities and surrounding ourselves with the right people. When people don’t rise to the occasion, we are often surprised, frustrated, or saddened. We talk to that person, teach him, and help him grow. But, alas, the same behavior happens again.
In this article, I want to share with you a two-step process that will help you predict people’s behaviors and thus lead you to have more effective teams.
These are the two steps: First, we must understand a person’s personality type using one of the standard personality systems (Myers Briggs Typing, Keirsey Temperaments, DISC, or what I use, the Four Temperaments). Second, we can evaluate people on a 10-point maturity scale that I call the “Maturity Growth Scale.” Let me explain.
I will not go into the details of each personality system here, but I would encourage you as a leader to pick one method and know it well. Any of these systems are a powerful tool in predicting a person’s innate traits.
Let me give you an example. When I meet a person who is a Sanguine (an “i” in the DISC system, ESFP in Myers Briggs, “Artisan-Performer” in Keirsey’s temperaments), I quickly recognize she is a Sanguine because she is expressive in her speech, colorful in her clothes, and super-friendly and effervescent. I am mindful not to judge nor to put people in boxes, nor do I presume to assign a person their type. I am only using the knowledge I have of personality types to help me predict their behavior. I give myself margin to change my mind as I get to know them or as they shed light on themselves.
A sanguine person, for example, is likely to have strengths in the area of relating to people, communicating, and teaching. She will also tend to have the following deficiencies, unless she has grown in these areas (which is what the below scale will measure): she may be disorganized, unable to focus and get things done, exhibit more talking/less doing.
If you are in leadership and have not adopted a system of personality typing to help you understand and empower people, I encourage you to give it high priority on your growth plan for 2018. Don’t just know about it, become a practitioner. If you want to use the system I use, you can find it in the book, Personality Plus by Florence Littauer.
Maturity Growth Scale
Regardless of the personality type we are born with, some of us will grow and mature in key areas more than others. This maturing will influence our success and our capacity to be effective. For me, a greater maturity level in the ten areas described below will predict how much I can rely on a person on my team.
Why these ten? There are many areas that need to be done well in a leader’s life. But I believe these are the top ten. If people are mature in these areas, I can almost guarantee that they will have a high chance of success. I created these classifications by thinking of the qualities I have observed in the people around me: those who have succeeded, those who have demonstrated major limitations, and those with whom I sadly had to part ways.
There are many psychometric testings that promise to reveal a person’s tendencies. For example, tests that measure our integrity or our work ethic. I have not found a quick test that I like. The system I recommend is one in which we rate people ourselves based on our observations of them within a short time period (a few weeks or months).
Think of a person now in your inner circle and rate him from 1 to 5 on each of these areas. (1=terrible, 2=bad, 3=average, 4=good, 5=amazing).
After you give them a grade for each, I would encourage you to do the following:
- Give them tasks and responsibilities that match their current maturity level.
- Don’t be frustrated or saddened if they perform at their current level. This is where they are on their life journey. Offer them grace, and remember that you and I are not or have not always been at our current maturity level in some of these areas. Do not use this tool to judge people, but to understand them better.
- Help them grow.
The 10-Point Maturity Scale
- Professionalism/work ethic
- Unprofessional, always late, leaves early, does not do what is required
- Often disregards responsibilities and deadlines
- Meets minimum expectations
- Often gives extra effort
- Always exceeds what is expected
- Cannot be trusted
- Often found in questionable situations
- Meets minimum expectations
- Overall, can be trusted with projects and people
- Always honest and walks in integrity
- Emotional Control
- Does not control emotions. Often has explosive outbursts or shuts down
- Often is angry, rude, or inappropriate
- Usually controls oneself; rarely provoked
- Overall, can be counted on to keep emotions under control
- Always controls own emotions. Reliable and steady
- Thought Control
- Is not aware and cannot control negative thoughts
- Often seems pre-occupied with others’ shortcomings.
- Usually controls oneself; rarely
- Overall, can be counted on to maintain positivity
- Consistently controls own thoughts. Positive during down turns.
- Language Control
- No control over language.
- Often uses unprofessional language with peers and clients
- Meets expectations with regard to professional conversation
- Rarely if ever engage in inappropriate language
- Never inappropriate in language. Highly intentional to introduce wholesome words to and about others.
- Ability to make things happen
- Is incapable or is not willing to complete tasks or project,
- Often disregards work
- Meets minimum expectations and deadlines.
- Often gives extra effort to complete tasks and projects with excellence
- Exceeds what is expected with own work and looks to help others
- How they view others
- Shames and ridicules others
- Often makes discouraging comments to/about others
- Meets minimum expectations; cordial
- Encourages others
- Always thinking of ways to go above and beyond to celebrate others
- Ability to listen
- Never pays attention
- Often disregards others
- Meets minimum expectations
- Actively listens to others
- Always listens and reflects on others’ ideas
- Humility/Self-reflection/Pursuit of personal growth
- Pompous, self-centered, stagnate
- Usually boisterous and self-promoting
- Meets minimum expectations; participates in group growth activities well
- Seeks personal growth independently
- humble, reflective, encourages others, suggests books, mentors, growth experiences
- Life balance
- Self-serving, lives in extremes
- Often allows personal life to negatively impact work
- Meets minimum expectations with work
- Independently balances home and work life; few interruptions to either
- Encourages and supports others to be balanced, healthy and whole
There are many other ways to help us predict people’s behavior, like their previous successes and failures, their level of education or training, and the major events of their lives. However, if we start with the two key predictors I describe above, we will go a long way in bringing the right people to our team, and placing them in the right position at the right time.
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