Six Personalities Walked Into a Risk Assessment . . . Optimizing Evaluations by Addressing Personality Types

Some believe that they can be one person at work and another person outside of work. In fact, our personalities are key parts of our work life that when properly addressed can actually lead to process optimization, especially during risk assessments.

A risk assessor who is able to identify different personality types and appropriately adjust the process for the various personality types can actually achieve more comprehensive and correct assessments. Facilitators need to identify and adjust to the different personalities in the room to ensure a successful facilitation. Over the years, we've encountered a variety of personality types from introverts to extroverts and everything in between, but here are a few personalities we’ve encountered consistently and how we’ve learned to successfully incorporate them into the process.

  1. The Boss: Not necessarily the boss, but someone who likes to take charge. The danger is that others might be afraid to speak up if someone uses the facilitation as their bully pulpit. Facilitators must rein in the "boss" by explaining the ground rules of the facilitation and, if necessary, pulling the person aside during a break to explain what needs to be accomplished and how the team must work together to get there.
  2. The Analyst: Thoroughness is the prerequisite of any risk assessment. However, if there's one person who overanalyzes and second-guesses seemingly everything, it will slow down the facilitation and, potentially, disengage other participants. A good facilitator will note some of the "analyst's" concerns and get the meeting back on track. Those worries can then be addressed at a separate meeting with the "analyst."
  3. The Mistaken: Make no mistake about it: Mistakes happen. It's an unavoidable thing, but the "mistaken" won't have any of it and will insist that, if things are run properly, then there's no need to worry about mistakes. As a facilitator, it's important to get the "mistaken" to understand that mistakes are unavoidable and explain that documenting potential for mistakes is not an indictment on anyone's abilities, its just a way of doing a thorough facilitation to mitigate risk.
  4. The Gladiators: Some co-workers just can't get along, whether it's in a meeting, working on a project, or participating in a risk facilitation. Any infighting can slow down the process and shift the rest of the team's focus away from the task at hand. A good facilitator will be able to control the meeting and firmly yet politely let the "gladiators" know that their interactions are counterproductive and putting the company at risk of missing potential risks.
  5. The Techie: We love our gadgets. From smartphones to tablets to any number of electronic gizmos, today's technology follows us wherever we go. The problem is some "techies" can't focus on the risk assessment because they're too busy checking emails, texting, web surfing, or even playing games. Internet access is important during a facilitation, but if attention is diverted to devices for other reasons, then it's best to restrict access or take the facilitation off site and explain that electronics should be used for facilitation purposes only except during scheduled breaks.
  6. The Timid: Some people are shy; it's just their personality, and there's nothing wrong with that. However, if someone is too afraid to speak up during a risk assessment, it could cause a major risk to go undocumented. Every member of the facilitation team is there for a reason—to share their input so that risks get addressed. A strong facilitator will be able to allay the "timid" participant's concerns and encourage the person to participate.

Knowing that personality and predictability go hand in hand, a savvy risk facilitator will be able to guide your company through a risk assessment successfully, regardless of who's in the room with them.


Paul Marushka, founding president and CEO of Sphera Solutions, Inc.As Sphera’s founding president and CEO, Paul Marushka is responsible for providing overall strategic leadership for the company in developing, directing and implementing go-to-market, service, product and operational plans. He has grown businesses by bringing innovative solutions to market in leveraging software, analytics and technology services. Prior to joining Sphera, he served as president of Marsh ClearSight, a business unit of Marsh & McLennan and a leading provider of software, services, and analytics for enterprise risk management, safety and compliance management and claims administration. He also has held executive positions at software and data companies such as Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) and CCC Information Services.

During his career, Marushka has developed and launched a variety of software and analytics products recognized by the Gartner Group for their impact on the industry. He has authored numerous articles on the use of analytics and technology in decision-making and has spoken in a variety of forums including the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the Gartner Technology Summit and the Risk and Insurance Management Society. He has a J.D. from the Northwestern University School of Law and an MBA and AB from the University of Chicago.

Posted on Sep 07, 2017


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