What does it really mean to have a completely agreeable team? I’m sure that for many Registered Managers and Care Directors out there, the idea of a team that is completely agreeable is the dream. Imagine all of the soldiers lining up in inch-perfect formation, awaiting orders, ready to act on them without a moment’s notice.
Okay, so sweeping generalisation aside. To appreciate the importance of having a balance of personalities on a successful team, we need to first understand the details of what agreeableness actually is.
The trait is recognised in the Big Five personality traits model (REF) as it is a huge contributor to who a person is, both inside, and outside the workplace. If we look further than just the rather weighted term ‘agreeable’, we see that the true characteristic of agreeableness is how much an individual values and seeks social harmony.
Outside of the workplace someone who scores highly on the agreeable scale would most likely be seen as an excellent friend. Generally, they are kind, considerate, generous, trusting and trustworthy. I think we can all picture that friend we would call in the middle of the night to help us bury the body. I use that analogy very deliberately. They have just helped you bury a body! What a great friend, but now also an accessory to murder. Maybe your friend should really have supported you by not agreeing and saying ‘This is a bad idea’
I’m being deliberately hyperbolic above, but let’s put this into a professional context. You’re running a care service, after the most recent recruitment drive you have built a team of carers with a mix of experience and personalities. You wanted to make sure you have a team that will follow instructions and get along with each other, so you used your years of traditional recruitment skills to build an agreeable team.
Referring back to the definition of Agreeableness, the team you have built seeks social harmony. If one of your new Caregivers see’s that client care standards are starting to slip they are less likely to report this, as they will take the path of least resistance. Imagine the CQC’s reaction to a non-reported slip in standards. How much will it cost your business?
A caregiver is often faced with challenging situations. Let’s face it delivering quality care is hard, add to that many clients are at the extreme end of dependency and you only have a couple of hours in your care package. On top of this, the lack of emerging social care talent means that many of our fantastic caregivers are stretched even further. As a result, studies have shown that up to an alarming 70% of caregivers display symptoms of major depression. Individuals who score lower on the agreeableness scales are less likely to ‘burn out’ As they are willing to stand out from the crowd, and challenge practices. The contribution of a less agreeable person to the mental health of a team can be phenomenal.
Looking past the team, and to the commercial success of a business, A less agreeable person often makes a great manager. The nature of management means that it often involves unpopular and tough decisions. Will you achieve commercially successful decisions with someone who is unwilling to ruffle a few feathers?
As with all things in life, balance is the key! So next time you look to hire someone, ask – how agreeable do I really want that person to be?