Keirsey Signature Workshop Case Study
The Leadership Factor: Creating a Strategy to Recruit, Select and Retain the Right People For Success
A faith-based organization that recruits individuals to serve as humanitarian aid workers
in third world countries asked Keirsey's Consulting Division, Synergy Leaders LLC, to
examine their recruiting strategy. Although the organization was extremely successful
in attracting and engaging people that were highly dedicated and motivated to serve, many
of their recruits were facing difficulties once placed in the field, and they were
experiencing much higher than expected burn-out and lower than expected retention rates
with their recruits.
As a preliminary step in diagnosing the cause of the problems they were facing, a cross section
of the organization's aid workers took the Keirsey Temperament Sorter-II. This included
members that had been successful in multiple placements, as well as members that had
experienced early burn-out.
Surfacing the Problems
The organization had come to the realization that the people who are most naturally drawn
to Humanitarian Aid as a calling are not necessarily the best fit for the types of situations
into which they were being placed in the third world. Working with Synergy Leaders, they
wanted to understand the profile of aid workers who succeeded in the field, versus the profiles
of those that left early. They wanted to develop a plan for working more effectively with
those that were more likely to burn-out, but more importantly, devise a strategy for
attracting more recruits that were likely to succeed and thrive in their field placements.
What We Discovered
Upon analyzing the Keirsey Temperament results of the cross-section of the organization, we
found that the majority of people drawn to serve by the organization's recruiting efforts
were Idealists (52%) and Guardians (26%). Both Idealists and Guardians are cooperative in
their actions, following rules and customs. Idealists derive their self-image
through benevolence, and Guardians derive theirs through being of service - making each of
these temperaments naturally drawn to the humanitarian message the organization was using in
their recruiting materials. However, in many cases, humanitarian aid in the third world calls
for people that are highly entrepreneurial and utilitarian in order to start things up from
ground zero. Artisans are the most effective temperament in this type of
environment, capitalizing on their tactical and improvisation skills to find solutions to
provide immediate outcomes when there is no infrastructure in place to facilitate their
mission. The organization was light on Artisans in its ranks, with only 16% of its recruits
of this temperament. Furthermore, those Artisans that did join were often turned off by
the cultural mismatch with an organization comprised of almost 80% Idealists and
Guardians. Artisans thrive on adventure and risk, and yearn to make a big impact. This
clashed strongly with the Guardians, who focus on process and following the rules, and
the Idealists, who focus on building relationships and getting along; Artisans tend to
be rule-breakers, unconventional in their quest to yield the highest results.
Synergy Leaders devised a two-pronged recruiting strategy for the organization. For
the entrepreneurial type roles, the strategy was geared toward attracting risk takers -
the Artisans, focusing on the action and adventure that recruits would experience in their
third world assignments. The second recruiting strategy shifted the recruiting of
more cooperative individuals for more established situations, where recruits would have
some infrastructure and protocol to support them, and they could focus on building
better processes and establishing strong relationships - areas in which Guardians and
By altering its recruiting strategy in both dimensions - changing it's targeting messages and
matching placement opportunities using the recruits' temperaments, the organization achieved
a win-win-win outcome.
Win #1: The new recruiting messaging immediately resulted in a greater number
of entrepreneurially inclined (Artisan) applicants. This allowed the organization to place
these applicants in the less structured third world situations that that had been driving
the retention problems.
Win#2: With the increased number of Artisans available for the unstructured "start-up"
placements, the organization was able to place their Idealist and Guardian recruits in later-stage
situations where they could better utilize their natural diplomatic and logistical skills.
Job satisfaction for these participants was greatly increased. Overall, the retention rate for
all positions increased dramatically.
Win #3: Not to be overlooked, the true winners in this study are the citizens of
the third-world localities that the organization is chartered to assist. They are receiving
better, and longer-term, assistance from aid workers that are better equipped for the roles they
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