6 Personality Traits That Make an Impact on Top Performing Teams

by Aggie Alvarez, on Jul 24, 2019 9:12:00 PM

Portrait of cheerful student in communication

Building mentally tough teams requires mentally tough employees. In Caliper's latest whitepaper, our research team defines the psychological advantage of six essential personality traits that make up mental toughness. And while some people are more naturally inclined to possess these traits, mental toughness is also a skill that can be developed by honing in on these key characteristics and building upon them over time.

Sharpening your team’s skill sets can improve their performance and outcomes in the workplace, so let’s dig into the six personality traits associated with mental toughness. We’ll use our research to show you how to spot mental toughness in your employees and how to further develop these traits on your team.

1. Level-headedness

“A measure of emotional expressivity, [level-headedness] relates to the tendency to effectively manage the expression of one’s emotions. Individuals who manifest higher levels tend to remain composed in a variety of stress-inducing situations. Those who score lower tend to react more emotionally.” 

You know the saying “cool heads prevail?” When it comes to high-performing teams, it’s true. The employees on your teams must possess level-headedness to ensure the long-term success of the organization. So, how do you know if your team members have it? When the going gets tough, look for those who remain composed and can stabilize their emotions and reactions. They will continue to work towards solving the issues and not let downfalls blind them with emotions.

Not everyone on your team will have this in high levels, and that’s okay. You can help other employees develop compensating behaviors by teaching and practicing different habits and techniques. Emphasize to your employees how important it is for them to stay calm, especially around other employees who may be more emotionally expressive. Showing your employees the long-term benefits of managing their emotions at work will not only benefit your bottom line, but it will also help their careers grow in a healthy manner.

2. Stress tolerance

“A measure of the capacity to remain unworried about possible negative consequences. Those showing high scores may remain unconcerned when faced with events beyond their control. People displaying low scores tend to focus on what might go wrong or potential negative consequences before moving to action.”

All employees experience stress at some point, especially when things get busy or timelines get tight. During that time, you’ll notice that the employees who can maintain a cool, calm, and collected mindset will focus on the task at hand and worry less than their counterparts.

Stress can make some individuals single-minded, making negatives seem catastrophic. This can make employees frustrated and disengaged. Here are some tips to help you develop those who show a lower tolerance for stressful situations:

  1. Help them find the silver lining when they’re overwhelmed and coach them on how to continue this practice for themselves. Once they’ve discovered the positive, help them create a plan to move forward. Often, stressed employees are just suffering from work paralysis, which can in turn cause more stress.
  2. Keep an optimistic attitude yourself. Lead by example, and you will be able to better coach your team in maintaining positivity in stressful situations when things get chaotic.
  3. Look for new opportunities that recurring issues reveal. That might come in the form of gaps in efficiency or the need for improved communication methods. An employee who always struggles at the end of the month due to poor reporting may need technology support or better time management from her team to avoid this in the future.

Coaching and reinforcing these strategies with your employees will help them learn to manage their stress levels when they start to feel overwhelmed. Practicing and maintaining a level of calmness in the face of negative pressures will allow employees to develop endurance towards stress in the future.

3. Resiliency/ Ego-strength

“A measure of one’s capacity to handle setbacks, criticism, and rejection. High scores indicate that one is less negatively impacted by failure and setbacks. Those who score low tend to internalize failure, criticism, and rejection, and often have trouble bouncing back and re-establishing self-confidence.”

Employees who are emotionally resilient adapt more easily to workplace change, manage workloads more effectively, and foster better working relationships in their teams. Those who show lower levels of resilience, however, might need a boost to help them bounce back.

One way you can encourage them to build stronger emotional resilience is by offering skills training, such as communication courses, technical skills development, soft skills classes, and more. Learning new tools and skills to help them carry out their daily role shows your employees that you care and support their overall well-being.

Because resiliency is so dependent on security and ego-strength, offer employees the chance to share in meetings, present on a topic in which they feel confident, or lead a project they can master.

When employees feel more secure in their role, it improves resilience and they recognize and respond to stress better. Now your employees are emotionally proactive when faced with difficult situations.

4. Energy/Persistence

“A measure of one’s potential to sustain a high level of activity over extended periods. High scores relate to being active and persistent in overcoming obstacles. Those with lower scores tend to be less energetic with respect to tasks and may not always persist when necessary to achieve a goal.”

Employees who show a strong drive towards goals are fueled by high levels of persistence, and it will show in their work. They take ownership of their work and will persist to accomplish tasks to their best abilities, regardless of outlook.

But not all employees exhibit persistence when times get tough, so how do you avoid this and cultivate energy and persistence on your team?

Set clear goals and milestones so employees can get on board, stay focused, and remain energized. Many leaders assume the team is already committed, but motivation must also come from the top-down. Uncommitted and disengaged workers may just be going through the motions, but managers have an opportunity to win back an employee who has become disengaged. Ask employees what you can do to help them push through a difficult task or offer to support them during a project.

Give your team a long-term goal and map out the key marks they need to hit in order to reach it. Break down their workloads into smaller, more manageable parts that they can use to stay on track. Communicate with them continuously on their progress, hold them accountable for reaching their goals, and acknowledge them when they reach a milestone. The more markers they meet, the more encouraged they feel to persist.

5. Self-structure

“A measure of one’s preference for independently determining work methods. A high score indicates the motivation to work independently. A low score indicates one is unlikely to define one’s own work habits and methods.”

Do you have a team member who can set goals for themselves, both short- and long-term? Do they have the ability to make strategic decisions? These employees likely prefer to work with little management oversight and exhibit a strong propensity for self-structure.

It’s not uncommon, however, for some employees to struggle with organizational skills and time management on their own. Encourage them to develop proficiency in self-structure by offering continuous coaching in project management competencies. Learning how to properly prioritize task work and manage deadlines will help them learn valuable organization skills they can apply to their workload and job function as a whole.

Many leaders are learning to maximize this trait with technology. From efficiency platforms to project management platforms, these tools are created to help employees communicate, organize their days, and collaborate better. Since one of the fundamental skills to self-structure is communication, these platforms are helping teams build great communication practices and organize their structure internally.

6. Thoroughness

“A measure of one’s tendency to be concerned with details and to take full ownership of tasks, jobs, and roles. Those that score high tend to take responsibility and can, at times, be perfectionistic. Those who score low tend to be a bit less conscientious and may not always attend to the details required to continue to develop skill sets.”

Mentally tough employees take pride in their work. Your detail-oriented employee focuses not only on the big picture, but also on the small facets of the assignment and the minor adjustments that need to take place in order to accomplish the goal.

So, how do you develop those who aren’t as thorough? Start by incorporating lists and getting organized. Prioritize major tasks and coach them on how to rank the importance of each part as it relates up the whole. This will help your employees understand which tasks need particular care and how the quality of each piece can affect the greater project. By understanding the value of the task, employees learn to accept ownership and responsibility for their work. Reinforce this practice and make it routine. Part of thoroughness is consistency. Embracing routine makes for a process that has a built-in priority for thoroughness.

Mental toughness coaching will provide your team members with better skills and insights for their individual roles and provide them the support they need to take challenges head-on and finish strong. You’ll see a better overall performance and more consistent outcomes from those who employees who practice mental toughness, and they will be able to continue to develop those skills on their own throughout their career. Need a little more data to understand how these work? Download our Mental Toughness whitepaper today!

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Topics:Human ResourcesProfessional Development

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in articles within the WIT Blog are those of the authors/submitters and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the Women In Trucking Association.

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