As a Baltimore native, I was born with a love for Cal Ripken Jr., of our hometown team, the Orioles. Undeniably one of baseball’s greatest players, Ripken was a 19-time all star, two-time American League MVP, two-time Gold Glove Award winner … the achievements and accolades go on and on.
Ripken is perhaps most famous for “The Streak,” his uninterrupted 2,632 consecutive games played which surpassed Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games that stood for 56 years. Many argue Ripken’s is a record never to be broken. Sports analysts and baseball fans attribute this impressive performance to perseverance and work ethic. Although I fully agree, I do believe there is an often-overlooked factor here: happiness.
One simply does not step up to the plate 12,883 times over 21 seasons with the same team if one isn’t happy.
The source of happiness is complicated to trace. In Ripken’s case, fan support, his personal performance, playing in his home state on a team with his father and brother all played a factor in his longevity with the Orioles. But the combination of such factors is what we refer to in the world of psychology as “fit.”
The beauty of “fit” is that it can be measured.
Conceptually, fit simply means the match between our preferences and our realities. In an overly simplified example, if I’m an extrovert, but my job requires me to be an introvert, it’s a poor fit.
To measure, and simplify, the complexities of human personality, we turn to well-established and deeply-studied psychological models of personality like the Five Factor Model (aka Big Five), which is widely used to predict workplace fit. This model measures people on the dimensions of Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Emotional Stability (née Neuroticism)–easily remembered with the acronym OCEAN–which in turn highlights behaviors, preferences, and performance outcomes.
The job personality profiles are supplied by employers via custom or industry standard benchmarking. And much like the research that goes into the drafting of a player, it’s necessary to get data on a job seeker – and utilize it – as soon as possible. Just as important, you should know your own personality. Being able to compare job seekers/employees to jobs gives a match rating, giving individuals and employers the ability to assess fit.
Employers and employees who achieve a high level of fit enjoy alignment in key areas. Across every industry, you’ll see reduced absenteeism, improved performance, lower job burnout and turnover, increased employee satisfaction, increased customer satisfaction when dealing with better fit employees… this list of stats and accolades is no shorter than Cal Ripken Jr.’s.
Happiness and performance used to be a chicken and egg problem: do happy employees perform better or do employees who perform well tend be happy? We now put happiness and performance on the same level under the scientific umbrella of fit. By prioritizing fit, you achieve both happiness and performance simultaneously.
Imagine being able to spot a Cal Ripken Jr. not simply from a skills standpoint, but from a fit standpoint… A happy, loyal employee who’s going to deliver non-stop across 21 seasons?
Now that’s a home run.
This post originally appeared on Glassdoor.