Category Archives: Careers

Introvert or extrovert, normal or abnormal: the problem with personality types

By Nick Haslam, University of Melbourne The Conversation logo

The idea that people can be classified into types has a long history. Writing 23 centuries ago, the Greek philosopher Theophrastus sketched 30 characters that are instantly recognisable to this day. They include the chatterbox, the back-biter, the ungrateful grumbler, the penny-pincher and the patron of rascals.

This ancient attempt to sort people into types reflects the enduring challenge of understanding psychological diversity. As Theophrastus put it:

why is it that, while all Greece lies under the same sky and all the Greeks are educated alike, it has befallen on us to have characters so variously constituted?

More recently, psychologists have proposed an assortment of types. Best known is Carl Jung, who introduced us to the introvert and the extrovert. “The two types are so essentially different,“ he wrote, “presenting so striking a contrast, that their existence, even to the uninitiated in psychological matters, becomes an obvious fact.”

Jung’s work inspired the well-known Myers-Briggs typology, beloved of many consultants but belittled by most researchers. Cleaving humankind with four dichotomies – introverted or extroverted, intuiting or sensing, thinking or feeling, perceiving or judging – it lays out 16 types, each with a unique personality style.

For Theophrastus, the tapestry of human variation was woven from dark threads, his types each defined by a character flaw. For the Myers-Briggs the palette is bright. Each type represents a distinct gift that suits people for positive roles. There is the teacher type, the healer, the performer, the architect, the provider, the mastermind and so on.

Many other types have been proposed. There are physique-based “somatotypes”, such as scrawny, intellectual ectomorphs, and jovial, big-boned endomorphs. There are attachment types that capture differences in how children relate to caregivers, or adults to their romantic partners. There are angry type A and inhibited type C personalities, supposedly at risk of heart disease and cancer.

Non-psychologists have also got in on the act. Muhammad Ali proposed a fruit and nut-based typology, classifying people as pomegranates (hard on the outside and inside), walnuts (hard on the outside, soft on the inside), prunes (soft outside, hard inside) and grapes (soft inside and out).

Muhammad Ali: pomegranate or prune?
Cliff/Flickr, CC BY

The trouble with these proposed personality types is that there is scant evidence that they are, indeed, types. Personality types are kinds of people who differ categorically from one another, just as cats and dogs are kinds of animal. Cats and dogs don’t differ by degrees: there is no continuum from one to the other composed of intermediate cat-dogs. If extroverts and introverts are truly types, like cats and dogs, then any person is either one or the other.

In a review of almost 200 studies examining possible psychological types, my colleagues and I found no compelling evidence that any personality characteristic is type-like. Instead, these characteristics are dimensions along which people vary by degree alone. Extroverts and introverts are not distinct types of person. They merely represent the fiery red and cool blue ends of a personality spectrum.

If personality “types” are not true types then what are they? They are probably best seen as arbitrary regions on an underlying continuum. We can arbitrarily define “tall” as exceeding 1.83m (six feet) in height without believing that tall people are a distinct type. Similarly, an “introvert” is someone who falls towards one end of the introversion-extroversion spectrum.

How we think about personality makes a difference. If we think in terms of types, we place people in categories and use noun labels. The person is “an introvert”, a fact that defines the kind of person they are. If we think in terms of dimensions we use adjectives. The person is “introverted”, an attribute they possess, not an identity that defines them.

Studies have shown that people draw different implications from noun labels and adjectives. When they hear someone labelled with a noun they are more likely to see the characteristic as a fundamental, unchanging aspect of the person. Thinking of someone as “an introvert” rather than as “introverted” leads us to expect them to act in introverted ways always and evermore.

So much for personality type. Might psychological types exist in the realm of mental illness? Many diseases are clearly types: measles is essentially different from mumps, gout and swine flu. Is this also true of mental disorders such as schizophrenia and depression?

Our review found that categorical types are vanishingly rare in psychiatry. Very few mental disorders are “cat”-like categories. Most fall on a continuum that extends from normality at one end to severe disturbance at the other. A spectrum of milder variants falls in between. Freud wrote that psychoanalysis aimed to turn neurotic misery into everyday unhappiness, and our findings suggest this is just a difference of degree.

Several implications follow if most mental disorders fall on a continuum with normality. First, these disorders tend to be diagnosed as either/or categories, and as if a bright line could be drawn between those who have a disorder and those who do not.

If this assumption is often incorrect, then psychiatric diagnosis should perhaps be done differently, in ways that recognise degrees of severity. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, introduced in 2013, made moves in this direction.

A second implication is that deciding who has a particular disorder is bound to be contentious. If there is no objective category boundary separating normality from abnormality we should not be surprised if people draw a boundary in different or shifting ways. Just as lowering the arbitrary threshold of “tallness” would increase the prevalence of tall people, lowering the threshold for defining disorder can inflate the diagnosis.

This issue also matters for what everyday people think about mental disorder. People who see the mentally ill as categorically different tend to hold more stigmatising attitudes than those who place mental illness on a continuum with normality.

Similarly, those who use noun labels such as “schizophrenics” to refer to people with mental disorders tend to have less empathy towards them, see them as defined by their condition, and view that condition as less alterable.

Despite its long history and continuing appeal, the idea of psychological types is problematic. Evidence for types is lacking and thinking typologically has a significant downside. We need to replace “either/or” with “more or less”.

The ConversationNick Haslam receives funding from the Australian Research Council.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

3 steps to building a better business case

career help

Are you required to apply for money for initiatives you wish to implement or purchases you wish to make?

When you are putting forward a case for funding for a project, it’s easy to slip into thinking the numbers are all that matter. Yes, the price is important, but it never tells the full story.

You can easily improve your chances of gaining support for your project by demonstrating you can answer some fundamental questions.  Here are the questions we suggest our prospective Career Navigator clients need to be able to answer before they even start talking about the money:

1. What are you hoping to gain by using this product or service, or completing this project?

How will this purchase or project benefit your organisation and/or your clients? For example, you may expect it to help you supply higher quality client services, or to serve your clients more efficiently. Can you clearly and precisely articulate the benefits so they can be easily understood by people who are not experts in your field?

2. How will you know when that outcome has been achieved?

Detail exactly how you will measure if your project has been a success. For example, suitable metrics may be the number of new clients served, time spent with clients, client feedback ratings, time saved and costs cut. Of course to be able to make a comparison, you will need data for your current situation, before the purchase and/or implementation.

3. Is there anything else you need to know?

You need to feel confident you are making the right choice so if there’s anything at all that is unclear, seek more clarification and/or evidence as to why this proposal should be supported. Examples of further information may be white papers, case studies, benchmark or validity data, or opportunities to speak to existing users.

Being prepared in this way – while also paying attention to the financial viability of all options – supercharges your credibility as a business-minded partner in the decision-making process.

Then it’s time to talk about how to make your dream a reality.

What do you think?  Would you follow these steps for better results?

Share your thoughts, suggestions and feedback below.

[Thanks, Rachel Bourke, for providing the inspiration for this article!]

Experience is a great teacher

But only when we open our minds to the lessons it gives.

The difference between knowledge and wisdom is experience, either our own or the experiences of others that can also teach us.

Whether you’re at the beginning, middle or end of your career, understanding this distinction can make all the difference.

You can know a tomato is a fruit, but wisdom lies in not using it in a fruit salad.

The opposite of learning from experience is either ignoring its lessons or using experience to confirm what we already believe instead of keeping an open mind.

We always have more to learn.

Did you know there are certain careers where experience is a definite advantage?

Here’s a list of jobs where experience is a benefit because it clients need to feel comfortable that they can trust your judgement because of the wisdom you have gained*:

  1. Health care professional
  2. Financial adviser
  3. Career counsellor
  4. Brand manager
  5. Consultant

This list shows that age may be an advantage when advising others in many areas of their lives, provided you also have the necessary expertise.

Of course, there will be other advantages for someone with a fresh attitude, up-to-date knowledge and excellent people skills. Combined with experience, these traits produce remarkable benefits for individuals and those who employ them.

*Source: msn.careerbuilder.com

What has experience taught you?

Universities Australia deal to get students ‘work ready’

By Alexandra Hansen, 26 February 2014    The Conversation logo

Universities Australia has announced an agreement with business groups to collaborate on vocational training to improve the employability of graduates.

Universities Australia chair Sandra Harding made the announcement in Canberra today. The agreement will assist students in undertaking Work Integrated Learning. This includes work placements accredited for university course work, mentoring and shadowing programs, and internships.

Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson pointed to the closure of manufacturing plants in Victoria as evidence that university graduates need to be equipped with on-the-job skills in an increasingly competitive job market.

The signatories to the agreement include Universities Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Business Council of Australia, among others.

One of Australia’s leading voices on education policy, Dr Gavin Moodie of RMIT, described the announcement as a positive but only preliminary step to increase understanding and cooperation in expanding work-integrated learning.

“Much more will be needed to convert this statement of goodwill into increased and improved work-integration learning,” Dr Moodie told The Conversation today.

He said Australian universities have long incorporated work experience in some of their programs, such as medicine, law, and nursing. Over the past decade, they have sought to offer Work Integrated Learning in more programs to all students who wish to participate.

“Universities are expanding Work Integrated Learning because they believe it enriches students’ learning, it makes graduates more employable, and it responds to employers’ wishes.”

One of the challenges, he said, is finding enough work experience opportunities for students.

“This is particularly ironic in view of employers increasingly seeking graduates who are ‘work ready’.

“As the Australian Workforce Productivity Agency responds, some employers don’t seem to be ‘graduate ready’,” Dr Moodie said.

For vocational training to become a permanent and successful aspect of university degrees across the board, Dr Moodie suggested it cannot be orchestrated purely by peak university and employer bodies. Individual employers, including small to medium-sized employers, will need to work with universities.


Update: Professor of International Education Simon Marginson said work and education are qualitatively different social sites, and should remain so.

“Education provides skills and knowledge useful both short term and long term, but can only provide broad or generic training for work, even in specific professional courses like engineering or law, “ he said.

“If education is tailored too closely to particular jobs or workplaces it becomes inflexible – the skills are not readily moved to other places,” he said.

Marginson said good quality generic training produces mobile, flexible graduates. While they still have much “on-the-job” learning to do, they can only learn to be specific job-ready in the particular job they undertake after study.

He says the vocational training provided by universities should be generic training, such as how to search for opportunities, how to write a resume, and how to succeed in a job interview.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Are you heading in the right direction?

terminating employment

Occasionally, it’s good to know you are on the right path…

This email we received from a consultant using Harrison Assessments Career Navigator System (CNS) demonstrates the power in knowing you are heading in the right direction:

A colleague in her mid-twenties who worked opposite me has for quite a while thought that she would like to be a nurse. All she really knew is that she didn’t enjoy working in this job, behind a computer all day every day because it didn’t give her a sense of doing something meaningful. But she didn’t know what else to do. A few weeks before Christmas she used the Harrison Career Navigator, and surprise, surprise, it listed nursing as something she would be really good at. She moved into high gear, enrolled at university to do a nursing degree, resigned from her job, moved a lot closer to the university, and has already begun preparing for the next three years of study. What’s inspiring is that she was willing to sacrifice her income and live another three years as a poor, struggling student in order to do what she loves.

Another friend suffered a major mental health issue and had to be hospitalised for a month. The crisis was brought on by issues related to work, and on leaving hospital she knew she couldn’t keep working in that area, but had no idea what else she could do. She did the assessment, which amongst other things recommended she work in a post office. It so happens her old job also managed a post office, and so she moved into the new role. She now loves what she does, finds work a lot less stressful and her health has really improved (so much so she’s returned to full time work).

A colleague who is successful in her current career but a little bored has been increasingly wondering, ‘Now what?’ She jumped at the opportunity to do the assessment, which confirmed that she would be well suited to being a doctor, something she had contemplated before. She is now seriously considering whether to give up her current work and pursue a career in the medical field. It would be a very long road for her, but immensely rewarding. I’m betting she’ll go for it!

I guess I can also add my own story to the list. I’ve known for a long while that I really want to work in the areas of counselling, coaching and training, which I love, but have often doubted whether I have what it takes to make it in that area. Doing the Harrison Career Development Assessment gave me a huge boost in confidence, confirming that I would be well suited to all three and that they would give me the sense of doing something meaningful that I’ve lacked in my career so far. And even more than that, it even more specifically identified that I would be particularly suited to career and relationship counselling, and adult education training, which I have really enjoyed in my education. So it was a great confirmation that I am on track and has helped give me the confidence and motivation to push on. Exciting times ahead!

What difference has direction – or lack of direction – made in your life?

Click here to get sample reports.

To find out more about how you can help your clients find their direction with Harrison Assessments’ Career Navigator, click here.

New products from Harrison Assessments

Agile Culture

We are thrilled to announce:

  • The Career Navigator
  • The Succession Planner

Dr Dan Harrison and his team are upgrading the Harrison Assessments HATS system this month to include these new modules.  There will also be updates to the questionnaire and the standard Job Success Formula library of over 6000 templates. Click here to download a summary of the changes: Harrison Assessments New Release Sept 2013

Here is a brief explanation of the new assessment products and talent management tools soon to be available in your HATS system at no extra charge:

CAREER NAVIGATOR

This is an interactive career system that has been added to the current Career Module.  This means that now when you send a questionnaire invitation to a client you have the option of linking their results to their own Career Navigator account.

The client can log into their Career Navigator account to run their own reports and view much more information about careers than previously available in HATS reports.

And you’ll notice that the reports have been updated to be more focused on career satisfaction with an additional 19 ‘interest’ and ‘employment preference’ traits.  HATS administrators will still be able to log into their clients accounts to see the results and run reports for coaching purposes.

The Career Navigator will make it much easier for career professionals, schools, universities, and employment organisations to give their customers access to the accuracy and vast amount of valuable employment information only found in the Career Module in HATS.

SUCCESSION PLANNER

The Succession Planner is an internal job succession tool for employees.  Companies can invite their employees to compare their work preferences (HA questionnaire) against any number of internal jobs included in the Succession Planning module.

Applications are linked to the recruitment campaign module which includes external applicants (if desired) and ensures a transparent, fair and performance based selection process.

The Succession Planner helps companies retain talented and committed employees and is a great resource for HR professionals.  It means employees have the benefit of applying for jobs they know they are already suited to, and may even consider a change in career direction with confidence.  It is also a valuable tool for company restructures and mergers.

For more information on what these changes mean for you, please contact us.  We look forward to answering your questions!

Career advice for parents now available

(Source http://www.deewr.gov.au/Employment/Programs/CareerAdviceforParents)

The Career Advice for Parents service commenced 1 January 2012 and is part of the Building Australia’s Future Workforce (BAFW) package.

Career Advice for Parents is a free telephone service which provides professional, informed career advice by qualified Career Advisers to assist eligible parents in identifying transferrable skills, explore career options and develop a plan of action to help them achieve their employment goals.

The Career Advice service is only available via telephone. It does not include a face to face option.

Eligibility

An employment service provider can determine eligibility for the service. A parent is to be registered with an employment service provider, if they are not registered already they can find a provider by using the search tool:

Career Advisers offer two distinct but related streams of service, Career Planning and Résumé Appraisal.

Career Planning

A Career Adviser can help with a range of activities such as:

  • identifying  transferable skills
  • researching industries and occupations
  • improve understanding of job search strategies in today’s labour market
  • identify education and training options
  • developing a plan to achieve employment goals.

To get the most out of a Career Planning session, eligible parents should do some of the activities in My Guide before speaking to a Career Adviser. My Guide is a personalised career exploration service that records interests, skills and experience, and assists in developing a career profile. My Guide includes My Career Plan which helps set and achieve career goals.

To access My Guide, go to My Guide and sign up to My Guide. My Career Plan can be emailed to the Career Adviser ahead of a career advice session to CareerAdvice@deewr.gov.au.

Résumé Appraisal

During a Résumé Appraisal session, a Career Adviser will review résumés and will provide detailed feedback and suggestions for improvement, including:

  • advice on preparation and presentation
  • matching skills, experience and qualifications to employment goals
  • managing career gaps
  • relating skills, experience and achievements to the needs of the employer and the requirements of the job.

You cannot have a Résumé Appraisal session without a résumé.  An employment service provider can help to develop one or alternatively the myfuture website contains tools and resources to assist in developing a résumé.

myfuture

Looking for a change in career direction or returning to the workforce?

myfuture is a free service to help you to explore jobs, find training and education courses and  help identify your interests, skills and experience when considering your next career move.

myfuture includes My Guide – an interactive quiz that allows you to record your interests, skills and experience, and develop a career profile. My Guide includes My Career Plan which can help you to set and achieve your career goals.

The Career Guide has step-by-step instructions on getting the most out of the myfuture website.

Career Guide

This guide has been developed to help parents make an informed decision about the next stage of their careers.

Further Information

For more information and details, email CareerAdviceForParents@deewr.gov.au.

‘SMART’ Resumes and CVs

Killing the business you love

Most people in business are familiar with SMART goals.  This simple acronym can also be applied to resumes and CVs – both your own and those of job candidates.

SMART becomes an easy checklist that will save you a lot of time.  Ask yourself  if the resume is:

Specific – detailing achievements of the individual, not just their team or department and not too vague or generalised;

Measurable – there should be facts and figures to back up the achievements.  For example, ‘increased client base by 20% in 2 years’;

Accurate – provides information that can be substantiated.  For example, academic transcripts, references;

Relevant – the information supplied links directly to the role;

Timeframed – dates are given for different jobs, study, etc, and all time periods are taken into account.

For help with recruitment and careers, get in touch!

 

"The last couple of years at batyr has seen incredible growth and the Balance at Work team has supported us along the way. They have helped us improve leadership skills across the team by helping us source and manage mentors, and even engaging as mentors themselves. As a young and fresh CEO Susan has also supported me personally with genuine feedback and fearless advice to achieve great things. "
By Sam Refshauge, CEO, batyr
"We used the Harrison Assessment tools followed by a debrief with Susan, for career development with staff, which then allowed us to work with Susan to create a customised 360 degree review process. Susan has a wealth of knowledge and is able to offer suggestions and solutions for our company. She is always ready to get involved and takes the time to show her clients the capability of Harrison Assessments. "
By Jessica Hill, Head of People and Culture, Choice
"Balance at Work are the ideal external partners for us as they completely get what we are trying achieve in the People and Culture space. Their flexibility and responsiveness to our needs has seen the entire 360 approach being a complete success. The online tool and the follow up coaching sessions have been game changers for our business. The buzz in the organisation is outstanding. Love it! Thanks again for being such a great support crew on this key project."
By Chris Bulmer, National GM Learning and Development, ISS Australia
"We use Harrison Assessments with our clients to support their recruitment processes. We especially value the comprehensive customisable features that allow us to ensure the best possible fit within a company, team and position. Balance at Work is always one phone call away. We appreciate their valuable input and their coaching solutions have also given great support to our clients."
By Benoit Ribe, HR Solutions Manager, Polyglot Group
"The leadership team at Insurance Advisernet engaged Susan from Balance at Work to run our leadership development survey and learning sessions. Susan was very professional in delivering the team and individual strengths and opportunities for growth. Susan's approach was very "non corporate" in style which was refreshing to see. I can't recommend Balance at Work more highly to lead, employee and team development sessions."
By Shaun Stanfield, Managing Director, Insurance Advisernet

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