The Secret Ingredient for Workplace Culture and Employee Experience

The Secret Ingredient for Workplace Culture and Employee Experience

Why is the secret ingredient for workplace culture and employee experience so important?

Because in the ever-evolving landscape of the business world, one constant remains – the significance of hiring the right person for the job. While hiring is often viewed as a complex process with many variables, the primary reason behind many costly hiring errors is often quite simple: employers fail to take into account a fundamental aspect of a candidate’s nature – their conative instincts, and how they align with the role and impact the team.

In an era where businesses tend to emphasize cognitive abilities and affective personality traits, they frequently overlook the conative aspect of a person’s mind. This oversight can result in a misalignment between the individual and the role, culminating in dissatisfaction, poor performance and ultimately, significant costs associated with turnover and diminishing returns on culture and employee experience. Consider the following:

Let’s explore conation, why it is frequently overlooked and outline how it can be incorporated into the hiring process to maximize candidate role alignment, leading to greater levels of productivity and well-being for future team members as you improve your organization’s culture and employee experience.

The Missing Piece: Conation

In the domain of psychology, our understanding of the human mind is categorized into three parts: cognitive, affective and conative.

3 parts of the mind

Cognitive pertains to a person’s ability to think and reason, as well as their experience, intelligence and learned skills, while affective involves emotions and personality traits such as preferences, desires, and values. Conation, the relatively lesser known third dimension, is all about an individual’s natural way of doing things, their innate instincts and how they strive. The conative part of the mind is overlooked in hiring because we have been trained to focus on the first two parts of the mind– a candidate’s education and experience (cognitive), alongside their foreseen “culture fit” (affective).

What is Conation?

Conation is the innate driving force that dictates how individuals approach tasks, make decisions and resolve challenges. It represents the innate energy that propels people towards action. While cognitive abilities can tell us a person’s intelligence or experience and affective personality traits provide insights into preferences and motivations, conation unravels how they do things.

More simply put by conative theory expert Kathy Kolbe: Conation refers to those things you will actually do when you are free to be yourself and strive.

Conation includes an individual’s innate methods of problem-solving. These natural instincts can significantly impact both a person’s performance in a specific role and their contributions to a team.

Why Conation Matters in Hiring

So, why is it crucial to consider conation in the hiring process? The following reasons shed light on the significance of this often-overlooked aspect:

1. Optimal Role Alignment

One of the most profound benefits of understanding conation is the ability to align a candidate with a role that complements their natural mode of operation. When an individual’s conative profile aligns with the demands of the job, they are more likely to excel and find greater satisfaction in their work. This alignment between an employee’s natural tendencies and job requirements fosters an environment where employees thrive and feel genuinely engaged.

Consider this scenario: If an individual’s natural way of working (i.e. their conative instinct) drives them to instinctively begin solving a problem by gathering a large amount of specific and detailed information, then analyze that information for the most realistic solution, that individual would likely struggle in a role that requires them to make decisions and be productive using very little information or detail.

2. Improved Team Dynamics

Conative diversity within a team can be a powerful catalyst for productivity and innovation. A team composed of members with diverse conative strengths can bring a well-rounded perspective to problem-solving and decision-making processes. It prevents groupthink and encourages fresh ideas and solutions while also aligning tasks to instincts.

For example, consider a project team with members possessing different conative strengths. One individual may need to work systematically, completing one task at a time, while another may thrive working on multiple projects at the same time. Members of the team can divvy up tasks that best align to their instincts. This diversity of strengths can lead to more comprehensive, balanced, and effective solutions. Ignoring conation in the hiring process could result in a less dynamic and potentially less effective team.

3. Long-Term Success and Well-being

Hiring a candidate who aligns with the conative requirements of the role isn’t just about short-term success. When employees are in roles that match their conative strengths, they are more likely to flourish and contribute their best efforts over an extended period. This translates to reduced turnover rates, decreased recruitment and training costs, and, most importantly, a happier and more productive workforce.

Conversely, when individuals are placed in roles that clash with their conative instincts, they may experience burnout, frustration, and dissatisfaction, which can result in attrition. The investment made in hiring and training the wrong person can lead to significant losses for the organization and harm the culture and employee experience.

How to Incorporate Conation in the Hiring Process

Understanding the importance of conation is one thing, but the real value lies in effectively incorporating it into the hiring process. Here are some practical steps to help you make the most of this often-neglected aspect:

1. Conative Assessments

Use a conative assessment to gain valuable insights into a candidate’s conative strengths. Kolbe is the only system that measures conation and is designed to reveal an individual’s innate strengths and approach to problem solving. The Kolbe System™ provides a structured framework for evaluating conative aspects and help make data-driven decisions during the hiring process.

2. Interview Questions

During interviews, supplement your understanding of a candidate’s conative preferences by asking targeted questions. Use them to complement what you learn from their Kolbe A™ Index result. For instance:

“Can you describe a situation where you had to make a quick decision under pressure? How did you approach it?”

“What kind of tasks or challenges energize you the most?”

“Tell us about a project where you had to use your problem-solving skills. What was your thought process like?”

These questions are designed to uncover the candidate’s natural inclinations when it comes to problem-solving. Their responses can provide valuable insights into whether their conative nature aligns with the requirements of the role.

3. Role Alignment

Roles within organizations are not one-size-fits-all. Different tasks and responsibilities within a company may require unique conative strengths.

Leaders can give individuals the freedom to do things their way, as long as the task gets completed effectively. By customizing job descriptions and roles to align with various conative strengths, employers can build a workforce that is not only more productive but also more fulfilled.

Thriving Hires, Thriving Workplace Culture

Hiring the right person for a role requires both a comprehensive understanding of the individual and the role demands they are meant to fill. In our quest for the perfect hire, it’s vital to consider all three parts of the mind – cognitive, affective, and conative. By doing so, you’re not only ensuring that the individual excels in their role, but you’re also fostering a workplace culture and employee experience that thrives on diverse perspectives, innovation, and fulfillment.

Considering conation is not just about immediate success. It’s about long-term prosperity. It’s about curbing turnover rates, reducing recruitment and training costs, and building a resilient, committed, and satisfied workforce. Investing in understanding and aligning with conation is a strategic move that can set your organization on a path to sustained excellence. And when you empower people to thrive in roles that resonate with their conative energy and drive, you’re setting the stage for maximized productivity, sustained well-being, and organizational success.

Start your journey to understanding conation by completing the Kolbe A Index.