How spousal personality affects careers?

It may not be as obvious as you might think! You are lot more than you may appear to bring at work.

It is time that organizations, leaders, supervisors, co-workers, and team members, start focusing on those invisible dimensions that have a deep impact on our work.

A lot of my work and research based on executive coaching got me to think about a very important dimension of work-life, particularly so of those who are dual-income couples.  It showed that those who were intimate and understanding in their relationships were able to put in more quality time to their work.  The reason being the absence of drama in their life.  They were able to bring more cognitive, emotional, and physical energy to their workspace.  Simply put their mind-body ergonomics in their relationship was super.

Another study showed that the partner’s personality had a deep influence on their income generation ability, career growth, and so on.  It points to the fact that each individual’s ability to bend their back on tasks in the office was directly linked to the social and familial context.  

I am not for a moment advocating a very touchy-feely office where people bring all their personal matters and discuss them at work.  It makes work at times less stressful this way and people are able to get away from the myriad emotional challenges which they face in their social context. 

However, my own experience tells me that no matter how much one would try to keep the personal and office life separate, it is not just difficult but hard to achieve.  You cannot compartmentalize human emotions and start switching on and off like a machine.  We are human and complex personalities after all.

I do believe that it is about time that business leaders and organizations took note of the outside influence on the work life of the employees.  It all boils down to not just becoming aware of the personality of those who work for them but of their partners as well.

When I speak of personality, I am indicating towards the Big Five personality traits of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and negative emotionality (neuroticism).

While there are some traits which influence much more than the others in a relationship, we cannot deny the fact that they all combine to make us who we are. 

Let me take the example of conscientiousness.  I have observed that if you have a partner who is conscientious then a lot of chores at home are handled efficiently and effectively.  It is more organized at home, and you do not have to worry about missing appointments, planning social events, PTMs, child’s nutrition to education needs and many more.  When the home front is taken care of, the employee is able to come to work with more vigor as the pressures are off your shoulder.

Similarly, those who have a more agreeable partner who keeps your interests always in mind, likes to be more collaborative than confrontational, is trusting, expresses views with a lot of tact and care, it creates a very positive climate at home.  Lesser conflicts mean less stress and more energy which can then be put to better use for personal and professional growth.  You might have seen, partners who are often confrontational in nature inadvertently create a climate which depletes them of positive energy.

There is another important trait which influences a person in performing well at work, that of neuroticism (negative emotionality).  When you have a partner who is highly reactive, edgy, often worried, getting rapidly angry and one who keeps brooding over the past mistakes and failures, it starts to affect other aspects of your life as well.  Their imagined worries make them highly intrusive and controlling in their behavior.  They easily transfer negative energies to each other leading to not just stress for them but for their significant other as well.  Those who are high on the neuroticism scale tend to carry the burden of household stress to work affecting their relationships with co-workers and productivity.  They are also the people who would report sick often or are not in the right frame of mind to contribute positively.

I am at not point suggesting here that your success at work depends upon you being in a relationship.  There are so many single individuals who are highly successful CEOs and business owners who bring great energy and aggression to grow their business.

However, strong marital relationships bring a lot of success at work as well.  When you are in a relationship, you are not two people; you are a single entity.  The more solid this entity, the greater will be your advantage.

We can’t and probably don’t want to know the details of an employee’s personal life, but we can provide them with tools which could help them better understand their relationships which in turn contributes to not just to their personal life but also brings success in their professional life.

Maybe there will be employees who do not agree that the company should get involved in trying to improve spousal or familial relationship, but you sure can offer them a choice of using some of these tools as a benefit. 

There is however no denying the fact that an employee is a complete and complex package of personality traits.  You cannot expect them to switch on / switch off their personal and professional life like you would a machine.

It’s time to take notice!

If you really care for your employees, it’s time you helped them outside of work as well!

Talk or write to me to know about the tools which could help you achieve that goal.

If you are a CEO and wish to make a positive impact on your employees, ask me for a FREE Assessment!

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