The term for describing the ability to work well with others, sometimes called teamwork, has been a construct that the HR world strives to understand better. Many jobs require the ability to get along well with others. Organizations commonly put individuals together that come from different backgrounds with different personality traits and expect them to work together to produce a quality product within a reasonable timeframe. A great example of this kind of team is a rock band. Not only do rock bands have pressure to get along and produce a quality product, they should also work as a team to communicate and do business with clients and partners (e.g., record labels, venue owners, band manager, fans, etc.). There may be some valuable applications to the work team to learn from the examination of the rock band team. At any rate, it’s fun to think about!
In a study by Diane Hernandez, Stephen A. Russo, and Barry A. Schneider they state, “The inner workings of a band are intrinsic and may produce inner conflict, affecting not only themselves and family members but also management and production teams”. Just like band members, Mark from accounting and Jen from sales could have inner conflict with their teams that affects themselves, team members, home life, and the rest of the organization. In the end, we want our organizational “band” members working together successfully to produce beautiful “music” that will help our business to progress. However, chances are you don’t have Bono, The Edge, Adam, and Larry on your team. This blog is to help you identify your band members, their strengths, and areas where they can improve so that your company can be the best show in town.
In another study conducted by James E. Cameron, Melissa Duffy, and Brittni Glenwright they gathered Big Five personality data on over 200 band members. The Big Five personality traits include extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. This study provides some analytical evidence for the personalities of each band member. Let’s go through each member and see if you can identify which band member relates to each of your employees and how to help them get better.
Vocalist/Lyricist – Extraversion
Strengths: Outgoing, talkative, warm, friendly
Weaknesses: Attention-seeking, overpowering, domineering
Guitarist – Openness to Experience
Strengths: Curious, original, creative, independent
Weaknesses: Unpredictable, volatile, unfocused
Bassist – Agreeableness
Strengths: Empathetic, trusting, helpful
Weaknesses: Submissive, gullible, naïve
Drummer – Conscientiousness
Strengths: Hardworking, responsible, dependable, organized, focused
Weaknesses: Obsessive, stubborn, critical of others
I am not claiming that ALL drummers are hardworking and dependable or that ALL bassists are naïve, rather, these are all generalizations backed up by some hard numbers. There is also a large amount of literature which addresses the usefulness of using the Big Five personality theory in selection. Gupta, Ganster, and Kepes authored an article in the Journal of Applied Psychology which questioned how effective personality assessments are for selection. They state that it is important to study the personality of job applicants, but selection tests founded primarily on the Big Five personality factors are too generalized. They suggest using more specific personality measures driven by a job analysis data for employee selection. Therefore, it would be more useful to use the band profiles as a developmental tool rather than a selection tool.
The key takeaway from this blog is to look deeper into the personality traits of your team members. If you have two team members that are heavy on the bassist attributes, you can pair them up with your vocalists while still developing their weaknesses into strengths. Typically, your workplace is going to be made up employees that have a little of everything and it’s more complicated than just sticking labels on people and pairing them up. Hopefully this will help you become aware of the importance of identifying different personality traits and developing others so that you can create an all-star team of rock stars.
Trevor McGlochlin is a Research Analyst at Select International. He earned a Master of Science degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Florida Institute of Technology. His areas of expertise include selection, employee turnover, organizational development, applied research, and statistical analyses. His analysis work is centered around validation, adverse impact, turnover analyses, assessment scoring, and other data analysis.