How to Know Your Productivity Zone

leadership coaching Sep 22, 2017

Personality and motivation go hand in hand. You may have the right skills and talent for your job, but if you are not working in your productivity zone, motivation suffers. Over time, so does the quality of your work and your level of stress.

Uncovering your productivity zone is a critical aspect of self-awareness. You may think you know what keeps your passion and enthusiasm on high, but personality testing can be a helpful tool. By uncovering both your strengths and your stress points, you can confirm where you are most proficient as well as how to stay in that productivity zone as long as possible.

Choosing a personality test for productivity

Currently, there are over 2,500 personality questionnaires on the market. According to the Wall Street Journal, more and more companies are using personality assessments. As a result, personality testing is $500 million industry, and expanding each year as new tools are added.

Today’s Personality Tests Raise the Bar for Job Seekers

Some are broad-spectrum tests designed to classify basic personality types, some test candidates for suitability particular job “fit”; others test for specific traits.

The good, the bad and the ugly about personality testing

When choosing a tool, it’s important to understand how the test works and what you require from it. Many personality tests ask a set of questions that individuals answer about themselves (e.g. Myers Briggs, Strengths Finder).  These are known as “self rater” tools.  These do a good job at validating and weighting your answers, but the answers are still self reported.

When we report about ourselves, researchers have found we are incredibly biased.  We tend to report what we expect ourselves to be, or what we think our employee wants us to be. Because we’ve all grown up emulating parents, teachers, and coaches, we often take on some of what we perceive is their “valuable behaviour”. Our malleable brains don’t help. They actually encourage us to do this, that is, fake it until we make it.

Then one day we can find we are no longer productive. Our energy fails, we’re disengaged, disinterested, fed up. “But I thought I was extroverted — a natural relationship builder,” we say, “That’s what the test told me!”

Testing for your strengths and stress behaviours

Here’s the rub.  Most of us aren’t good at figuring strengths on our own. We need to learn how to objectively gather and assess feedback from others, and then use measurement tools to sort out the difference between who we aspire to be and who we are.

Secondly, personality traits provide only one layer of understanding. Each of us behaves differently depending on who we are, and what drives us in terms of energy. Stress is often an indicator that we are responding from a position of weakness, that we are uncomfortable with our behaviour, not feeling “in our zone.”

Self Awareness Tips

When you want to test beyond just personality traits, as a Certified Birkman Coach in Canada, my bias is The Birkman Method Birkman. Birkman not only probes for strength behaviours but also evaluates your interests, your motivations, and how you can respond to everyday pressures.

Finally, whatever assessment you chose, or is offered to you, here are some suggestions.

For the employer:

  • Look for objective measures for success. What specific traits are necessary to lead to the desired results?
  • Use a well known validated tool that tests for what you require. For example, if you are a business leader, measure business strengths and attributes that matter to organizational success.
  • Give honest feedback and be objective. Say what’s difficult to say, as this can be the most helpful.

For the employee

  • Listen to feedback with an open mind.
  • Know how to articulate your specific productivity zone and what you need to get there, and stay there.
  • Learn how to ask for roles that let you work from your strengths not your weaknesses.
  • Stay malleable. Continue to learn. And celebrate who you are today — and always.

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