Patience at Work: A Free Introduction to the 7 Work Traits

  • By Jordan B
  • April 2023

The patience trait measures a person’s need for established processes and procedures, how people handle predictability and manage priorities, and their openness to change and new ideas.

Patience tells us why some people enjoy the pressure of being busy and having multiple priorities and deadlines, while others enjoy a more routine, stable environment.

More specifically, patience quantifies a person’s preferred scope of activity, their priority management, how they feel about change in their environment, and their need for deadlines.

The higher someone’s measured patience, the more planned and deliberate their behaviour is. They tend to be more relaxed, easy-going, and accepting of others.

The lower someone’s measured patience, the more impatient and intense their behaviour is. They tend to approach activities with a sense of urgency and are quick to react to changes in priorities.

At work, highly patient (High P) people approach activities with a steady, methodical style. They are comfortable concentrating on an individual task requiring repetitive behaviours for an extended period. They tend to prefer to concentrate heavily on a single project to its completion, rather than switching priorities throughout the day. High P people enjoy having regular routines and coming into the workday knowing what is expected of them.

People high in patience often thrive in technical/specialist roles, accounting roles, quality assurance, information technology, and other analytical fields.

Conversely, people low in patience (Low P) approach work activities with a fast pace and sense of urgency. They tend to embrace and initiate change and are naturally drawn to roles involving a variety of different responsibilities.

People low in patience often thrive in fast-paced roles like project managers, outside sales, and corporate/managerial roles.

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The purpose of this article is to provide a sketch of the differences between High P and Low P people to illustrate the meaning of the patience trait, one of the 7 factors measured by the TRAITS assessment. With a better understanding of the trait, you will begin to recognize behaviours in others that reflect high and low patience, and by extension, which roles those people are best suited to.

High Patience at Work

  • High P people tend to be relaxed and composed in their interpersonal interactions and are patient, non-critical listeners.
  • High P people prefer work activities which are slower paced, methodical and sequential. They are comfortable handling routine, repetitious tasks.
  • High P people tend to be hesitant and cautious when presented with new ideas.
  • High P people seek familiarity, predictability, and safety. They may develop new processes and procedures when none exist.
  • High P people demonstrate persistence in the completion of tasks.
  • High P people enjoy the sense of belonging that comes with being part of a group.

Low Patience at Work

  • Low P people are efficient multitaskers and enjoy handling multiple assignments at once.
  • Low P people are motivated by short-term deadlines and adapt easily to changes in schedules and priorities.
  • Low P people are very proactive. They are quick to respond and quick to act.
  • Low P people are quick to identify better ways of doing things and are quick to initiate change in guidelines and procedures.
  • Low P people enjoy a broad variety of responsibilities.
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In addition to predicting natural behaviours, an understanding of someone’s patience (and other TRAITS) can also be used to understand their motivations.

High Patience Motivators

  • A working environment where activities are systematic, and where methods, procedures and physical environment rarely change.
  • Working at a planned and steady pace.
  • The opportunity to complete assignments to their satisfaction before moving on to the next task.
  • The opportunity to think things through before responding.
  • Having their loyalty and tenacity rewarded.

Low Patience Motivators

  • The freedom to work and act at their own urgent pace.
  • Having control of their schedule and priorities.
  • Opportunities to initiate change.
  • Opportunities to multitask and maximize personal efficiency.
  • Goals, targets, and deadlines.
  • Numerous activities.

As with all factors measured by the TRAITS assessment, the higher (or lower) the level of patience, the more intense the behaviour.

Those who are closer to the average on patience can display a degree of both high P and low P behaviour, but with considerably lower intensity than those who are strong in either direction.

People closer to the average on patience often thrive as financial controllers, executive assistants, or administrative assistants, which tend to involve a mixture of High P and Low P behaviours.

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Those with stronger traits are more consistent in their behaviour but have their own sets of challenges.

High Patience Risks and Challenges

  • Can be slow to adapt to changes in policies, procedures, and guidelines. Reluctant to modify their routines.
  • Can have difficulty re-orienting attention when interrupted or distracted.
  • Can be overly tolerant and hesitant to criticize people or procedures.
  • Can become stressed under pressure, such as when given too many tasks, and may let tasks slide.

Low Patience Risks and Challenges

  • Can overburden themselves with too many tasks.
  • Can leave things to the last minute to create the motivating sense of pressure.
  • Can fail to complete tasks requiring a longer time commitment.
  • Can institute change without soliciting feedback.
  • Can be impulsive and endorse new ideas without giving proper consideration.
  • Can be seen as poor listeners.

When deciding the appropriate level of patience necessary for a particular role, it is important to reflect on which behaviours are essential for the role, and which behaviours may be detrimental to that role. We hope this blog has provided some helpful insights you can incorporate into your personnel decisions.

Interested in learning more? Check out the other guides in our free introduction to the 7 work traits.

  • Assertiveness: Directiveness, independence, willingness to take risks, and accountability.
  • Sociability: The need to communicate and influence others.
  • Patience: The need for established processes and predictability and one’s sense of urgency.
  • Detail Orientation: The need for structure, order, and accuracy.
  • Behvaioural Adaptability: Flexibility and versatility in behaviour across environments.
  • Emotional Control: The need to express one’s emotions.
  • Creativity: The need for innovation and ingenuity.

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