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Champion Team vs. Team of Champions in the Future Workforce

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Recent research has revealed that almost one in five executives in the corporate business sector have a scarily high number of psychopathic traits! This has sparked our interest in the role that personality types play in the workforce, in particular the digital workforce of the future.

You’re responsible for hiring a new employee. What do you look for? Do you focus on the skills and experience required to carry out the job, or does the sociability and friendliness of the job applicant determine your decision? Although both criteria are fundamental when considering the right person to fill the role, researchers are suggesting that the right personality type should be favoured over proficiency and hard-earned qualifications.

In the digital age, hiring an employee is not solely about looking for skills and specialised knowledge. After all, with tools like Siri and Watson becoming more intelligent, how much information will we really need to remember in a few years’ time? Einstein once said you should never memorise anything you can look up, after consulting the phone book to find his own phone number.

Collaboration and the ability to work well in a team are key employee attributes which will carry into the workforce of the future, so the real question managers must ask is how to build an effective team – which personalities are required and who works well together? Perhaps it’s okay to have psychopaths in your team. In fact, having a dominant driver can be extremely important, as long as there are counterbalancing forces.

Personalities and team work are not the only criteria for the workforce of the future, analytical and problem solving skills will also take precedence over knowledge. Those who can think critically will be more likely to succeed over those who can recite textbook knowledge. So what does this emphasis on personality and problem solving skills mean for our hiring processes into the future?

The Institute has recently been exploring the application of nudge theory into business processes to guide better social outcomes. The leaders of the pack in implementing behavioural insights and nudge theory into government policymaking are the United Kingdom’s Behavioural Insights Team (BIT). A major factor underpinning behavioural insights is the contributions that unconscious biases have on the decision making process, leading to unintentional suboptimal decision making that carries into the workplace.

For example, if an employer reads a resume and the first thing they see is pleasing or attractive to the role description, human bias kicks in; the employer is more likely to view the rest of the information presented favourably. Conversely, if an employer has an undesirable first impression, they are more likely to view the remainder of the resume in a negative light. This is called the “halo effect.”

The BIT are trialling a new digital hiring platform called “Applied,”aimed at addressing these issues by diminishing the human error components that unconsciously but significantly influence preferences for applicants in the hiring process. By concealing the information that is found to be irrelevant to the job application process, greater objectivity is achieved.

However, as we try to remove biases from decisions, there is still a place for subjectivity, in particular when building teams. Evidence-based management principles provides for professional judgement to be considered in line with other data points which are measurable.

According to the Center for Evidence-Based Management,

“The starting point for evidence-based management is that management decisions should be based on a combination of critical thinking and the best available evidence. And by ‘evidence’, we mean information, facts or data supporting (or contradicting) a claim, assumption or hypothesis. Evidence may come from scientific research, but internal business information and even professional experience can count as ‘evidence’.”

A question of “can the person fit in with the team dynamics?” is an example of exercising professional experience within the hiring framework. While the digital workforce of the future has the potential to be hired on the basis of digital evidence free of human bias, human judgement is still likely to play a part where team play is an essential part of the job.

For millennials, the answer to every second question seems to be “Google it.” People no longer need to memorise technical information, it’s so easy to press a few buttons and search for the information or ask an intelligent assistant to dig up the information for you. In the smartphone world, the information we need is constantly available at our fingertips. So rather than directing all of our energy towards remembering things, we should be working to develop our critical and creative skill sets in leveraging the digital information available to us, and our ability to do this in the context of building effective teams. After all, a champion team is much more effective than a team of champions, psychopaths and all.

This article was written by Belinda McKeon and Shaeyen Mackay from the SAP Institute for Digital Government. To find out more about the Institute visit, follow us on Twitter @sapsidg and email us at

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