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Personality is often defined by characteristics such as outgoing or charming. However, psychologists define personality as the growth and development of a person’s whole psychological system.
We study personality in Organizational Behavior because it impacts a number of important work outcomes. We can attempt to measure personality through a variety of methods. Often these methods are utilized in the hiring process to assist in hiring the right person for the job and the organization.
Self-reports are the most common and easiest way to measure personality, but they are prone to error due to the fact that the individual is reporting all the data about themselves.
There are many determinants of personality including heredity, environmental factors and age. There has been a long standing debate about whether genetics or environment are more important in determining personality. They both play an important role. The heredity approach refers to factors determined at conception such as physical stature and gender. This has been reaffirmed by studies that have looked at twins who were raised apart but still had similar personalities. However, there were differences observed leading to the idea the environmental factors can have some influence.
Age does influence the level of ability that an individual has even though it is widely held that the basic personality stays constant throughout the life of the individual.
The MBTI is the most widely used personality instrument world-wide. Participants are classified within four scales to determine 1 of 16 possible personality types. These types are broken down into four dichotomies. The first is extroverts who tend to be sociable and assertive verses introverts who tend to be quiet and shy. The second dichotomy is sensing and intuitive. Sensors are practical and orderly where intuits utilize unconscious processes. The third dichotomy is thinking and feeling. Thinking focuses on using reason and logic whereas feeling utilizes values and emotions. The final dichotomy is judging and perceiving. Judgers want order and structure whereas perceivers are more flexible and spontaneous.
These categories, while insightful, are not related to job performance.
The Big Five model of personality sets forth that there are five basic dimensions that underlie all others and encompass most of the significant variations in human personalities. The Big Five factors are: Extroversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability and Openness to Experiences. There is a lot of research that supports the Big Five model and it has been shown to predict behavior at work.
As shown, the Big Five traits are related to job performance and also have other implications for work and life.
There are additional personality traits relevant to organizational behavior. Core self-evaluation is the degree to which people like/dislike themselves. Positive self-evaluation leads to higher job performance. Machiavellianism describes a person who tends to be emotionally distant and believes that the ends justify the means. They tend to have a competitive drive and a need to win. They can be very persuasive in situations where there is direct interaction with minimal rules and people are distracted by emotions. Narcissism is a trait that often hinders job effectiveness. It describes a person who requires excessive admiration and has a strong sense of entitlement.
Self-monitoring is another personality trait that is linked to job performance. It is the ability to adjust behavior to meet situational factors. High monitors are more likely to become leaders in the workplace.
Risk taking refers to the willingness of the individual to take chances. This quality affects how much time and information managers need to make a decision.
Proactive personalities are people who are able to identify opportunities and take action to capitalize on that opportunity. They also have the ability to persevere through difficulties to meet their goals.
Other-orientation reflects the extent to which decisions are affected by social influences and concerns vs. our own well-being and outcomes.
Values represent basic convictions that make judgments about what is the best mode of conduct or end-state of existence.
Value systems represent individual values and prioritizes them based on how important the particular value is to the individual and how intense their feelings are about that particular value. The way individuals set up their values in order of importance is relatively stable over time and sets the foundation for many work outcomes such as attitudes, motivation and behavior. In addition, values are important in the workplace because they can influence an individual’s perception and cloud their objectivity.
The Rokeach Value Survey was created by Milton Rokeach. It consists of two sets of values, terminal values and instrumental values. Terminal values describe the desired values/goals a person would like to keep/achieve through their lifetime. Instrumental values are the preferred modes of behavior or means of achieving one’s terminal values. Values vary between groups and can cause trouble when group members hold different values and negotiation is needed.
There are many terminal values and this list is not exhaustive, but it represents some of the more widely accepted values to which people adhere.
This list represents some examples of instrumental values and again, is not exhaustive, but should provide a look at some of the instrumental values people hold.
Personality and value studies are important to the field of organizational behavior because they have been linked to workplace outcomes. The person-job fit theory developed by John Holland has been critical to thinking about how people fit with a specific job. Holland classified people into six personality types utilizing a vocational preference inventory.
Through the study of personality it has become clear that there are intrinsic differences in personality between people. Given that there are a number of different jobs it is logical that people in jobs congruent with their personalities would be more satisfied in their work.
When the personality is matched with the type of occupation then there are stronger positive work outcomes.
This idea can be further linked to the workplace by looking at person-organization fit. The employee’s personality needs to fit with the organizational culture. When employees find organizations that match their values they are more likely to be selected and correspondingly be more satisfied with their work. The big five personality types are often helpful in matching the individuals with organizational culture.
There are global implications to personality and values in the workplace. Frameworks such as the big five is transferable across cultures, in fact it has been used worldwide. However, the applicability is higher in some cultures than others. Values, on the other hand, differ to a great degree across cultures.
Geert Hofstede developed a framework for assessing culture. He breaks up his framework of understanding into five value dimensions: power distance, individualism vs. collectivism, masculinity vs. femininity, uncertainty avoidance and long-term vs. short-term orientation.
The GLOBE, as discussed earlier, is also helpful in framing differences between cultures.
Power distance is the extent to which a society accepts that power in institutions and organizations is distributed unequally. Low-distance occurs when there is relatively equal power between those with status and wealth and those without. Higher distance occurs when there is unequal power distribution between groups.
The second component in Hofstede’s framework is individualism vs. collectivism. Individualism is the degree to which people prefer to act on their own rather than in a group. Collectivism is the idea that people operate within a social framework where they help others out and they expect help when they need it.
Hofstede offers a third component in his model that distinguishes between masculinity and femininity. Masculinity is the extent to which the culture prefers achievement, power and control vs. characteristics that are more feminine in nature. The fourth component is uncertainty avoidance. This is the extent to which a society is willing to live with uncertainty and ambiguity. High uncertainty avoidance cultures will try to avoid ambiguous situations as much as possible. Lower uncertainty avoidance cultures do not mind ambiguity. The final component is time orientation. Long-term orientation societies will emphasize the future and what it takes to get to the future they desire, thrift and persistence. Short-term orientation societies will emphasize the here and now.
The GLOBE framework takes a look at nine dimensions of national culture. It is similar to Hofstede’s model but adds the humane and performance orientations. The humane orientation looks at how much society rewards people for being altruistic and kind where the performance orientation looks at how much society encourages and rewards good work.
Personality and values are very important to the workplace and play a solid role in predicting behavior. There are some good frameworks and models that can aid us in applying these theories and assist managers in being better predictors of workplace behavior.
Keep in mind as a manager that personality impacts the way an individual interacts with others, and it is fairly easy to measure to gain insight into the worker.
The Big five personality traits are somewhat universal and are very useful in predicting behavior.
Values are important to understand as they influence how workers will behave as well. They vary significantly across cultures however, so it is important to understand the culture in which you are in.
Organizational Behavior Chapter 4 Personality and Values