Dan Maxwell
January 15, 2019

Hardwired. It’s an old term, with an obvious connection to electricity and technology. But look it up in the dictionary, and you’ll find it also has something to do with personality.

Terms used to describe this word – like “inherent” and “inborn”, imply there’s something about our make-up that’s natural, part of who we are and how we operate.

Is there any use for this idea in the workplace?

I believe so. Here’s why ….

With markets rising and falling, new technologies – and now, AI … there is increasing pressure on candidates to get clear about their abilities.

Some can simply dust off their resume and apply to a different company, if they get laid off. Others must consider re-training. But everyone faces the fact that qualifications now include “soft skills” e.g. teamwork, communication, and problem-solving.

These point to something deeper, part of our make-up, not just something we “pick up” somewhere.

But how do we figure this out?

One practical way to learn how we’re hardwired is to understand more about personality traits.

Traits are enduring or persisting characteristics consistently manifested despite variation in circumstances or environment.

Examples include: Assertiveness, Sociability, and Detail Orientation.

Defined this way, personality is not an unknown, intangible force we can never quite define. In fact, thanks to the field of psychometrics, traits can be clearly identified and accurately measured. In every-day language, they can tell us how we are naturally motivated to think, relate and decide – by implication, what we enjoy and naturally do well!

One of my relatives took a leadership course some time ago, and in the process completed a personality assessment. Apparently, it dawned on him how useful the insights can be in figuring out one’s purpose in life. His response? He was frustrated at the fact this kind of information was not readily available for everyone.

The point?  It’s hard enough figuring out where to apply, what to put on a resume, or which program to take. It’s even more difficult not knowing if there’s any connection to how we’re naturally “hardwired”.

Yes, traits are only one part of how we’re hardwired.  After all, we are complex beings.  But this dimension:

  • gives shape to purpose,
  • has influence on our abilities, and
  • plays a driving role in our behaviours.

In light of growing job uncertainty and the demand for “soft skills,” learning how we are hardwired makes even more sense.

Consider just this one example of how knowledge about traits can make a difference in the workplace:

“Sociability, How Much is Enough?”