Foundational Strengths Creating Happy Employees

Foundational Strengths That Create a Consistent and Happy Employees

By Michael Matalone

The 3 Foundational Strengths

  1. Knowledge: Specific to the jobs requirements
  2. Skills: Application of the above specific knowledge that creates consistent results
  3. Traits: An alignment of the individual’s hardwired personality traits and the required behaviors of the role

Knowledge: While these three strengths may appear to be simplistic, many people misunderstand them when hiring and/or making promotions. For example, with regards to the first strength Knowledge. Many people assume that if a person has a college degree or especially an advanced degree, this sets them apart from those that do not and therefore they have a greater ability to succeed in the role. This is simply not true. We have all read about or even have known or worked with people who defy this belief. Maybe your one of them. For example, let’s say you graduated from a top university with a degree in Finance, then you get your MBA and CPA. Based on their educational accomplishments, you hire them to be the Director of Operations for your company. Did their education prepare them with the required knowledge to be a successful Director of Operations? Well, it may have provided “some” of the required knowledge, but not a majority of what is needed. So now you are probably thinking, yes, but if I hired the above person as my company’s Controller, then clearly, they have the right knowledge to be successful in that role?  Perhaps, but read on about Skills.

Skills: While the above person may have just acquired the knowledge to be a highly competent financial person; they have NOT yet had the chance to put in enough time to develop the experience in applying that knowledge to achieve the consistent necessary results.  Everyone’s is familiar with the old adage, “Knowledge is power” but in reality, knowledge is only potential power. The person above has the “potential” to be effective in this role. The knowledge only becomes “power” when they have had enough time and experience applying that knowledge in many different situations (success and failures) to know how to apply it in each situation effectively. This typically takes between 3-5 years for the average person to gain enough experience to “master” the application of that knowledge. Additionally, as the Controller she most likely also has several people reporting to her and most formal education programs incorporate very little if any education on how to assess, hire, manage, motivate and develop a team of people. And that list is the required knowledge that every manager of people needs to be highly skilled in to ensure on-going success.

Personality Traits:  Your “core” personality traits are first formed about thirty to sixty days before you are born. They are the result of your synaptic connections or neural pathways that lie between your neuron’s or brain cells. Then over the next fifteen years or so of life, depending on how your parents, teachers, coaches, pastors, etc. influence your learning; your “hardwired” personality traits are formed.  These hardwired traits will then be the foundation for how you think, and feel and therefore predict how you will behave in most situations for the rest of your life. This is also one of the explanations for why a typical fifteen year old “thinks” that they know EVERYTHING, and then their predictive behavior is let’s just say; less than desirable.

Putting it all together: When the person in the role possess the required knowledge and skills and also has the natural Vs learned personality traits that align with the required behaviors of the job, they do not have to work as hard constantly adapting their natural way of thinking and feeling to produce the right behaviors. They can just be themselves and use the knowledge and skills they acquired over the years and easily get the job done.  Without this alignment of Traits and Behaviors, the individual will likely not be consistent or enjoy the role due to how much effort they have to put in constantly adjusting their behavior.

Application: First, define the tasks and results that need to be accomplished in the role. Then determine what knowledge, skills and behavior are required to execute those tasks and results. Then assess your existing staff against these benchmarks and pre-screen and interview candidates to determine if they have the required knowledge and skills. And use a valid personality assessment tool that includes a Job Profiling tool to help identify and establish the benchmark of behaviors that you can then match against the individual’s personality profile. The better you can align these 3 elements/strengths, the more likely the individual is to succeed in the role and enjoy the work they do which equals retention of top talent!


Are you focused on building the best team for the best business? Are you committed to making a positive difference in your business? As an executive coach, I work with people who run businesses and help them make decisions, set goals and then get them to meet those goals. Want to know what that feels like? Try a no-obligation, complimentary, online coaching session. Schedule your executive business coaching session now by pressing the little red button and we’ll get you on the road to entrepreneurial success.


About the Author: Mike Matalone, Founder/Chief Talent Officer

Want to work with someone who knows how to hire, train and retain a team of happy employees? Check out Mike Matalone and P3 Talent. Mike is a former Vistage Chair and for several years was a member of one of my peer advisory groups.

With over two decades of experience as a successful entrepreneur and human capital management consultant, Michael Matalone has authored dozens of articles on the importance of having the right people in the right roles as a fundamental driver of business growth and profitability. Michael has spent the last 15 years studying, developing, and implementing an objective, scientific, and methodical process and suite of tools to help companies assess, hire, manage, develop, and retain top talent called The XP3 Talent System™.

An award-winning speaker, Michael has delivered more than 400 workshops and presentations to business groups throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Prior to the founding of XP3 Talent, LLC, Michael spent five years as an executive coach and facilitator for Vistage International, the world’s largest CEO membership organization, and was the founder and CEO of three other companies. Michael is about to publish his first book, The Talent Aquisition Pocket Guide: How To Get The Right People In The Right Roles.