Considering Personality Types in Safety Procedures
People are different. Every one looks at life though the lens of his own personality type. By addressing these different personality types, we can create procedures that every one will follow.
Carl Jung defines four different personality types: Feeling, Thinking, Sensation and Intuition. Most personality psychologist use four similar categories, but with different names.
Since Sensation personality types tend to be good at accounting, care taking, collecting data organizing and supervising, they tend to end up in supervisory positions. Since they themselves are good at following directions they often think others are as well. They often don’t understand people who don’t follow instructions. After all, Sensation people follow instructions simply because the instructions are there.
Sensation personality types will not normally question the procedure; they simply want it to be executed fairly and consistently. If you are inconsistent in your enforcement, sensation personality types will follow the procedure simply because it is the procedure. But, if you change the procedure, you better give them some time to prepare as they also like to plan ahead.
Feeling personality types are good at being cooperative, mentoring, teaching and training. So these are the ones you want to use to present the new procedures to the people. They will be more interested in how the procedure makes them feel than what it is accomplishing. Also, in presenting procedures to Feeling personality types, it is important to recognize them as people first and employees second. Adding some fluff to the procedure that recognizes their humanness will win over the feeling personality types while annoying the thinking personality types. So be careful to find a balance.
Thinking personality types will want to know why. They will also be the ones to suggest a better way. Be sure you listen to them. Even if you don’t implement their suggestions, be sure you listen to them if you want them to follow your procedure. Make sure the procedure explains why the procedure is important to the process and how you came up with it. These explanations are very important to Thinking personality types.
Intuition personality types are the ones who pride themselves in not following the rules and can be the biggest challenge to generating procedures that every one will follow. Intuition personality types tend to be risk takers and impulsive. However they also make great leaders so if you get the Intuition personality types to buy in to a procedure they will bring the others along with them. To make the procedures palatable to the Intuition personality types, be sure to add some room for creative expression where possible. Understand their need for variety. Allow some options for them to choose from. In training for a new procedure be sure to include real world examples. Use funny stories if possible to get and hold their attention.
I often see procedures fail because the writer assumes that all people think like they do. And many managers think that “Because I said so” is good enough motivation to get people to follow a procedure. If you want employees to follow procedure when no one is looking, you need to consider the personality types of the employees.