One of the greatest skills an HR professional can possess is an understanding of people. The more you understand your people, the better you can manage their needs and create a successful work environment. Of course, every person is different and every organisation contains a wide variety of individuals and personality types. This means the average HR professional has to apply a wide variety of people management techniques. 

Processes like 360 and employee feedback provide valuable insight into both the personalities and the development opportunities available to individuals and groups within the organisation. While these processes can provide insight into personality, they are also heavily affected by personality.

Feedback And Personality

No two people are exactly alike, meaning every piece of employee feedback will be different and every individual will respond to feedback in a different way. According to research by Smither, London & Richmond, personality type has a significant impact on how employees and leaders react to and use feedback.

According to the research, people with a more extraverted and/or conscientious personality are far more likely to use feedback findings to pursue development opportunities. This theory appears to be backed up by further research by Bono and Colbert who found that high self-esteem leads to positive reactions to feedback while low self-esteem or introversion can cause employees to have a negative reaction to feedback.

Using Employee Feedback

This research has been used in some quarters as evidence of a problem with 360 feedback style appraisals. The argument often put forward is that the application of a uniform 360 feedback program can have a negative impact on certain personality types. However, rather than evidence of a flaw in 360 feedback, this research offers an opportunity for HR professionals to implement more effective employee feedback programs.

By taking into account an employee’s personality, and identifying the appropriate approach to each, HR professionals can create the ideal development plan for every individual. Employees who respond positively to feedback can be given the freedom to manage their own development. Meanwhile, other personality types will get the benefit of a more structured training and development plan.

The key is to understand which approach works for which employee. Like every facet of HR, it’s about understanding your people.

See how 360 feedback has benefitted companies like M&S, Tonic Life and Home Group, by reading our case studies.