Critically analyze how an understanding of employee personality can...

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Personality is the supreme realization of the innate idiosyncrasy of a living being. It is an act of high courage flung in the face of life, the absolute affirmation of all that constitutes the individual, the most successful adaptation to the universal condition of existence coupled with the greatest possible freedom for self-determination.

- Carl Gustav Jung, 1934

An individual's personality encompasses of a number of characteristics and attributes; which are both temperamental and behavioral and condition the visible aspects of one's character. These personal attributes create distinctions and dissimilarities among individuals; there by giving rise to the notion that no two individuals are exactly the same and remain somewhat consistent throughout a person's life. Personality is exhibited by the manner by which one conducts himself, ones response to the environment, individual thought, social interactions as well as feelings and emotional mannerisms. Furthermore, research shows that although personality is a psychological formation, it is also influenced by an individual's needs and biological progression. Keen observers of human nature are able to determine individual personality traits and identify distinct characteristics unique to an individual. Such persons are more understanding towards lapses and short comings in an individual's character observable through arising situations occurring in day to interactions and are generally more tolerant. Furthermore, by the intent observation of human nature, one develops a fairly good idea on how to tactfully deal with day to day occurrences.

The development of this kind of insight and understanding into individual character and personality places one in a favorable position, especially when in comes to the managerial tasks in business undertakings. Managers of business ventures are required to oversee and direct the human resources of an organization as part of their overall duty; together with their numerous functions and responsibilities. A major task associated with the management of a company's human resources is the efficient optimization of employee motivation. Effective execution of this task is a vital determinant of managerial success and there after corporate success and in order to maximize performances and achieve better results, effectual motivational techniques need to be formulated. The significance of motivation is obvious. It is principally a driving factor and leads people to work hard with perseverance, commitment, enthusiasm and determination to overcome obstacles. In the present context, there exist various motivational techniques such as performance appraisals, payment of monetary incentives etc, implemented by organizations throughout the world with the objective of driving employee performance.

The level of success that can be achieved by the implementation of motivational techniques depends on the suitability and appropriateness of the model applied. This is due to the reason that no two persons are the same and individual needs and personalities directly affect the factors which motivates them. A sound understanding of employee personality will enable a corporate manager to apply a targeted motivational strategy which will undoubtedly prove to be more effective at achieving the desired outcome. For this purpose, it becomes necessary for the managerial staff to pay close attention to employee behavior and verbal responses. Additionally, the manner in which an employee carries out his assigned duties need to be observed in addition to his social interactions with colleagues' in the work place. Furthermore, in order for the managerial persons to arrive at a reasonable judgment and form an accurate estimation, it becomes necessary for the respective persons to engage with the employees in a casual manner and form relationships. By this means, a fairly good understanding of the individual makeup of a person's character can be determined. This understanding can thereafter be utilized in motivating employees. To arrive at this understanding, corporate managers must first carefully evaluate gathered observations and thereafter arrive at rational judgments. As a result of this action the individual needs and personality attributes of an employee can be correctly identified and consequently, a strategy or technique that is most likely to spark motivation and drive performance can be identified and implemented accordingly.

The reason why a logical understanding of an employee's personality will assist the manager in formulating more effective motivational strategies is due to the reason that no individual who is in a position of authority; will be able to motivate subordinates and the employees under his direction unless the individual understands which motivational factors bring into being the desired results. It is of known fact that in certain situations, employees will put in a heartfelt effort if they feel threatened, but this motivation technique may create only marginal results and go on to produce many undesired outcomes such as increased resentment and frustration at the occupation. These effects will in turn de motivate employees and give rise rebellious behavior and power struggles, which will unquestionably lead to a decrease in employee productivity, depending on the personality this action is directed at. Therefore, a good manager knows that there are drastic variations and dissimilarities among persons and a fixed strategy aimed at driving employee motivation, will not produce the desired results. A wise supervisor will never undermine the importance of an individual and will keep in mind to incorporate his understanding of an employee's personality when formulating motivation techniques. An individual's personality has two aspects which when combined, jointly form what is generally referred to as a personality type. They are as follows:-

Traits- Behavior that was inherited; fixed part of our neurological hardwiring.

Our ability to learn

Our problem solving ability

Our intuition

Our perceptions

Our natural talents and abilities

Characteristics- Behavior that was formed; acquired through external experiences and influences

Our attitudes

Our comfort zones

Our fears and insecurities

Our learned habits



Social expectations

A basic understanding of the personality type concept enables a manager to differentiate from human traits, which are the innate qualities that cannot be altered and human characteristics which are the acquired phenomenon that are in a process of continuous alteration. Subsequently, a manager will be able to arrive at a fairly good judgment regarding the specific personality type of an individual employee and thereafter use that invaluable knowledge and understanding in applying the most suitable motivation technique. This kind of emotional skill is an immensely useful one that can be bettered through experience. By understanding the varied personalities of employees', the manager will begin to be more appreciative of the differences in people and will realize that variations in individuals give rise to the greatest opportunity to formulate a team of dynamic self motivated persons.

Listed below are a few examples of how emotional intelligence comes into play in achieving highly satisfactory results when applying motivation techniques

Example Number 1- Dilshan is a young sales executive at a leading shoe manufacturing industry. Dilshan is an enthusiastic, hard working individual yet he is highly sensitive, and his personality greatly contrasts with his colleagues and co-workers who are less enthusiastic and somewhat. For example Malinga, a comparatively much older executive engaged in the same occupation as Dilshan is a person of indolent ways and one who needs to be constantly monitored and pushed to complete a task on time. Despite the grave differences of personality in Dilshan and Maliga, both individuals are talented, capable persons who are competent at accomplishing their respective targets and objectives. Therefore, the manager in charge of these individuals diligently observes their natural tendencies as well as personality and character and recognizes the need to implement different motivation techniques for the two. The manager identifies that although Dilshan is a hard working self motivated individual for the most part, due to his sensitive nature, a slight negative occurrence can cause Dilshan to become highly de motivated and thereafter largely unproductive. Additionally the manager identifies that Dilshan has favorable traits that provide him with sound analytical skills and problem solving abilities and due to this reason, he enjoys accepting challenges. On this basis, Dilshans supervisor comes to the conclusion that the best means of motivating the individual is by giving him the freedom to operate and execute his own plans, whilst continuously monitoring his progress and advising him tactfully. The manager deems it essential to oversee and guide Dilshan with a lot of tact and diplomacy (due to his sensitive disposition) and recognizes that his need for self actualization is his greatest motivation. Therefore in this particular instance, a manager's correct understanding of employee personality enables him to apply the most appropriate motivation technique that will bring in the most desirable outcome.

Contrastingly, in the case of Malinga, the above mentioned motivation technique will not produce the results sought after. Due his listless ways, the manager identifies that the only means of motivating Malinga is by frightening him into good performance. The executive's supervisor observantly notes that Malinga responds better to the fear of losing his job much better than he does to the payment of various monetary incentive payments etc. Therefore it is with this understanding and observation, that the manager is able to successfully apply the most effective motivation technique and thereafter enjoy a favorable outcome. What the manager did in the above two situations was that he basically created an environment in which his subordinates on their own accord, wanted to optimize their performance and cooperate in order produce the desired results. The emotionally intelligent manager facilitated the creation of the ideal environment for the two employees, by simply paying close attention to their own unique personalities and applying fitting motivation models that appeal to their individual ways.

Example Number 2- Murali is an intelligent company executive who capably carries out his day to tasks. His manager Sangakkara, notices Murali's tendency to slack at certain instances and therefore identifies the need to keep him constantly motivated. Sangakkara makes the following observations about Murali's personality-:

Loves praise

Attention seeker




Multi tasking ability

It is observable that Murali is a talented executive who possesses invaluable traits and character strengths, such as his knack to be innovative as well as multi task efficiently. Furthermore, it is also discernible that Murali has an intense need for recognition and self realization and due to this reason, he has a boastful character. It is on these grounds that Sangakkara recognizes that the most ideal and effective way to drive motivation in Murali, would be by fulfilling his need for praise and recognition. Whenever Murali completes a task or project capably and successfully, Sangakkara deems it essential to approach him and congratulate him on a job well done. This motivation technique works wonderfully for the manager and Sangakkara finds that the more recognition he grants Murali, the better his overall performance. Individuals such as Murali, although capable, have an extreme desire for praise and appreciation, possibly due to a lack of self actualization and due to this reason, the single most effective way to drive motivation would be by fulfilling this unmet need within his composition. Therefore it can be noted that personality and invidividual needs have a direct correlation and an individual tries to fulfill specific psychological needs by behaving in a particular manner. Hence, in can be noted that individual character is partly influenced by ones individual needs and desired.

Since I have established the fact that individual needs have a direct bearing on the form ones character takes, it will further assist persons in managerial positions to apply effective motivation techniques by understanding employee needs. In order to do so, an observation must be made on Maslow's theory on 'The Hierarchy of Needs'. The theory is illustrated below:

Physiological Needs

Safety Needs

Need for love, affection, belonginess

Needs for esteem

Needs for self actualization

Because personal needs have a direct influence on ones character, if a manager adeptly identifies which stage of the 'Hiearachy of Needs' chart his employee stands at, he will be able to apply and even better motivation technique directed at the respective person. For example, if a supervior wishes to motivate an employee at the top most level of the chart, he will have to do so by placing an object that will satisfy his basis Physiological needs as the object of his motivation. An example is stated below:-

Angelo is a skilled laborer at an apparel industry and the individual has a tendency to slack off easily and produce less goods than his ability would permit him to. For this reason, Angelo's supervisor Ajantha identifies that the best means of motivating the individual ( to increase his productivity), would be to grant him various monetary incentives. The manager vigilantly observes Angelo's personality and character traits and identifies that Angelo is a good man with appreciable characteristics but his financial plight causes him to become frustrated and distressed, which in turn reflects in the way he carries out his day to day tasks and operation. It is on these grounds that Angelo's manager decides that the best means of motivating the individual would be by paying him monetary incentives based on his performance. This motivation technique proved to be higly succesful in achieving its desired outcome and Angelo's productivity output doubled. Therefore, it can be noted that although individual needs may seem to be a topic separate from individual personality, it is infact apart of it due to the reason that needs affect human charateristics which in turn form the human personality.

People or human resources are a companies most valuable asset. Despite all the enormous changes that have taken place in the way we do business, this indispensable fact remains the same. People are the heart and soul of any business undertaking and it is still centered around relationships. Moreover, people fancy working for individuals who are attentive to their needs, sensitive to their nature and eager to solve their predicaments and it is this sort of actions that give birth to personal connections. It is the employees of a business who retain customers, even it times of difficulty and it is known that employees or human resources are a determining factor in the success of any organization. Therefore, it is always a good idea to invest in the personal development of the workers and create ways and means to harnerss their strenghts and mount productibity by increasing motivation. The effective management of information and augmenting productivity have become the standard of todays business environment and in order to increase worker productivity and harness hidden strenghts, it becomes necessary for the management team to know the employees on all levels as well as where they stand on the hierachial chain. By indentifying such aspects, it becomes relatively easier to facilitate the creation of the ideal environment; where employees are able to inculcale self motivation and truly enjoy the work they perform at their occupation.

Maslows theory on 'The Hierachy of Needs' has been an important factor in understanding motivation at the workplace and in the present context, employee self actualization has grown to be of paramout important in the corporate world. Maslow was also able to predict that personal growth of an individual as well as interest in money, acted as the chief motivator in the lives of the working people. Although, this observation is generalized there are many variations which are brought about due to the instrinsic differences and disimilarites among individual characters. For example, some persons are more naturally driven to achieve than others and derive much satisfaction from pushing their limits and accepting challenges. On the other hand, you also find many individuals who as not comfortable with accepting difficult and challenging situtions and stepping out of their comfort zone is a action they are highly unlikely to ever get past. Additionally, the level of motivation an individual possesses has a great deal to do with the type of personality of the person. For example, individuals who are reserved and shy are most likely to get motivated from living within their personaliy. Personality has an enomous impact on how we as individuals, are motivated in our day to day lives and it is an undeniable fact that motivation and personality are directly related. Moreover, success is often measured by diverse motivations and rewards. Because motivation is an acted state in an individual that indefinitely leads to goal- directed behaviour it is absolutely necessary component of a managers overall task and duties. Furthermore, motivation is an unobservable force that stimulates, compels and conditions a behavioural response whilst providing specific direction and due to this reason a company with even a small group of self motivated individuals can grow to great heights and it is the managers duty to apply suitable motivation techniques and strategies for this purpose. In some indivuals, motivation is inherent and these individuals are known as self motivated persons, however in some others, it must be occasionally administered. In a few others, it must be administered in a sustainable manner on a continous basis and only a sound understanding of human nature, character and personality can enable a manager to identify which techniques and methods to use for each individual worker under his authority.For example, certain individuals have a desire for need and power and these desires are indefinitely personality characteristcs which act as motives which arise as a result of certain cravings or needs. Correct identification of such needs and personality characteristics will prove to be immensely usefull in the day to management activities of managerial persons. Furthermore, Such knowledge will also allow a manager to handle, manage and direct the human resources under his wing with tact which will cause them to work with him with full coorperation. This kind of action is the basis of good management and in addition to to its success in augmenting employee motivation, it also forms good relationships which is important too and causes invididuals to give their all at whatever task they perform. Cetain personality types maybe complex and difficult to comprehend however frequent observations made over a period of time will provide a manager or a supervior with the information he needs to formulate the appropriate motivation strategy designed specifically for the said individual. Certain indivuals may not be what they seem but associating with such persons for a long period of time will enable an individual to observe their true nature. Understanding human personality is a complex subject and must be carried out with much care and vigilance. Additionally, sound logic, reasoning skills and an analytical mind is imperative.

A good manager knows that people need to be appreciated and acknowledged for who they are. Moreover, a good manager will also understand that individuals need to be recognized for their contributions and each have their own traits and characteristics unique to their individual personalities. Due to these imperative understandings, he will be extra vigilant in his observations and thereafter use his observations as the basis to his formulation of good motivation techniques. It is of undeniable fact that an observant, intelligent and also sensitive (compassionate) individual will make an excellent manager, especially when it comes to the aspects of human resource management as he will use his knowledge, wisdom, understanding and observations to assist persons to become more productive in what they do. In conclusion, it evident that personality is directly related to how we as individuals are motivated and a sound understanding of employee personality, will undoubtedly provide a manager with the necessary knowledge needed to apply the most appropriate motivation technique directed at a particular personality type.