Not only professional knowledge, such as qualifications, professional experience and industry knowledge, are decisive for the successful exercise of a position. Above all, soft skills, professional interest, motives, values and social behaviour must be taken into account.

The thesis was put forward that the successful people of a professional group are almost identical in the characteristics of their personality traits, the soft skills. Each norm or best practice profile forms its own specific image typical for the respective occupational group.

The following phenomenon was observed when defining personality traits for typical area managers:

There was a need for personnel in the sales department of a well-known car manufacturer. The question arose as to how the vacant positions should be filled.

In contrast to the usual procedure of comparing new candidates with a demographic group in a personality test or concentrating on specific characteristics desired by the supervisors, a reference profile of people in the same profession was drawn up here. Thus, a comparison already allows far more meaningful conclusions to be drawn.

For further optimisation, a best-practice profile has been created so that a statement can be made not only as to whether a candidate has the characteristics required for the position, but also as to whether he or she is also likely to be successful.

To verify this revolutionary approach, HR Consult Group AG then tested the top 10 percent of 1,400 salespeople from the same premium car manufacturer and created a Best Practice Profile (BPP). Surprisingly, this BPP was also very clear. The characteristics of the key competences and thus the profiles of the best salespeople are like two peas in a pod, irrespective of age, region, ethnic origin or nationality.

To get further proof of the correctness and success of this approach, the most successful salespeople of another premium car manufacturer were surveyed. The corresponding BPP shows that the best salespeople of this manufacturer were also almost identical.

An example of an almost identical match for the key criteria can be seen in the following figure:

Therefore, there is a conviction - and evidence could also be provided for this - that successfully acting members of a professional group have personality traits with a high degree of congruence in the key competences. These are further crystallised in the best practice profiles. They represent those personality traits that are actually decisive for success in the profession.

From the differences between the candidate profile and the norm profile, the need for personnel development in the form of training or further education can be derived and implemented.

The central finding is that the successful people of a professional group are almost identical in the characteristics of their personality traits, the soft skills. Each norm or best-practice profile forms its own specific image, typical for the respective occupational group.

The next article in this series will describe how to create a best practice profile.

About the author

Dr Armin Betz

After graduating as an automotive engineer and industrial engineer, he began his career in the automotive industry in the areas of sales, development and marketing and also spent a year in Japan with one of the largest automotive suppliers.

He then moved to a world-renowned premium car manufacturer, where he was responsible for product marketing in Japan and South America and marketing strategy in North and South America.

In 1994 he decided to become self-employed and founded a personnel consultancy in Munich, where he has been driving development and expansion for over 20 years. As managing director, his industry focus is naturally on the automotive world as well as mechanical and plant engineering.

With his doctorate in the field of aptitude diagnostics, he ideally rounds off his fields of competence, especially with regard to personnel and management consultancy. The dissertation deals with the identification and proof of typical personality traits of engineers as well as the definition of development areas for a successful professional career.

These are scientifically derived and presented in the book "Eignungsdiagnostik im Praxiseinsatz".

At the same time, his focus is on building networks and cooperation models as well as the continuous further development of systems and processes in HR consulting.

Within the last 20 years in personnel consulting, he has developed several brands that are still successful on the market today.

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