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The unique thought patterns, behaviors and feelings that make an individual different from the other can be termed as Personality. The personality of every individual originates out of genetic heritage as well as his immediate surroundings, and remains constant all through their lives. This results in individual differences. Due to complexity in human nature arising out of the wide variety of experiences in life, the different personality types affect individual relation ships in an organization, and affect the organizational climate. There are various theories explaining the growth of individual personalities, such as - the Psychodynamic theory, Type theory, Behavioral theory, Biological theory, Trait theory , and the theory of the 'Big five'( Mike Battista,2008). However, though it is assumed that the personality of an individual is more or less constant, it does not happen so. It has been observed that though individual differences occur as a result of various styles of parenting and the amount of attention that one received in childhood grooming, individual successes and failures experienced in life, changes in individual personality do occur in the long run. Individuals are likely to become more stable emotionally through 20 to 40 years, where usually they do not need to face any more new experience with age, as greater confidence in self develops. (Webbooks/e-library)
Impact of Individual Personality at Work
The child hood personality of an individual affects the future career and job satisfaction of individuals. It has been found out that, behaviors of individuals in the organizational climate are the result of their individual personalities. There are certain traits of personality that are essential for employee behavior, which may be desirable for an organization to run its operations successfully. Some individuals may be more sociable and carry an outgoing personality and prefer work environment that is more social and friendly. This personality trait does not immediately affect their behavior at work, but might harm their work psychology in the long run. In an organizational environment, everyone is assigned some particular job responsibility, and certain expectations arise out of the definite roles that each are assigned to play. Hence, here the individual behavior is influenced more by the job expectations rather than individual behavioral preferences. In jobs that call for autonomy and freedom, it has been observed that the individual personality exercises a tremendous influence on that. This often leads to difficult management situations in an organization. Employees often tend to become too much egocentric, autonomous, possess too much of differential opinion, and sometimes casual and easy going. Hence these are important issues that need to be focused on when an organization is creating its business plan and designing individual job responsibilities. (Webbooks/e-library)
People are not a means to an end, but are as important to an organization as the wheel is to a chariot. Every organization requires a definite workforce comprising a unique employee personality, so as to avoid too much collision of ideas. Again, individual differences give rise to dynamism in the team, which is very healthy and essential for the successful growth of a team, as it unleashes new ideas, provided it is managed efficiently. Thus it is important that every team leader has a proper knowledge about the Big Five Theory of personality development.
The Big Five
The discovery of the Big Five was the result of an empirical research, and psychologists observed that of the long list of traits prepared by them, many of them occurred together. Five big factors were identified as general dimensions that were essentially considered for differentiating one person from the other. These are - Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Putting the initials of the character traits together, the acronym OCEAN is derived.
Openness: People who are high on openness, are imaginative as well as conservative, and possess a down-to-earth kind of nature. They like emotions, adventure, art, unusual ideas, possess curiosity and imagination, and like variety. They perform well in settings involving training, and usually are capable of blooming in situations that require acquiring new skills and flexibility. Their personality trait gets them quickly adjusted to a new job setting.
Conscientiousness: This personality trait refers to how much organized, achievement-driven, dependable, punctual, and systematic a person is. It is this trait of an individual that sets him/her apart and gives out the prediction about his /her level of performance in a wide assortment of occupation that he or she gets involved into.
Extraversion: This refers to a person's outgoing, sociable and talkative nature, and ability to build up quick and strong interactions. They are found to be successful at jobs involving sales, as well as jobs involving managerial responsibilities. They display inspirational behaviors in leadership roles. They usually are happy in work environment as they enjoy the relationships that they build up there.
Agreeableness: This refers to the personality traits of compassion, cooperation in a person on one hand while suspicion and antagonism on the other. They are friendly, helpful, optimistic, and possess the willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of others. People with a high degree of agreeableness, are liked by others and create a strong bonding with others. They do not retaliate much when treated unfairly by others, and have the potential of being an effective leader as well as a valuable asset for a team as they are able to create a fair environment in a team.
Neuroticism or Emotional Stability: This personality trait refers to a person's emotionality, temperaments, irritability, anxiousness, moodiness. It points towards the individual's ability to remain calm and stable, and ability to handle stress. They generally get angry quickly, and succumb to anxiety and depression, resulting in their inability to think clearly and handle a complicated situation. People that are high on Neuroticism are usually low in achievements as this trait acts negatively against a successful career. They repeatedly get unsatisfied with their job and depict intentions of leaving, though they actually do not leave. (Webbooks/e-library)
My Personal Profile
1. Openness to experience: Imaginative, innovative, curious, practical, have wide interest, low focus.
2. Conscientiousness: Planful, organized, achievement oriented, reliable, stronger work ethic, efficient, orderly, practical, careful, prudent
3. Extraversion: Sociable, active, energetic, more assertive, verbally dominant, energized by people, more accessible, reserved rather than unfriendly after a difficult phase
4. Agreeableness: Warm, affiliation seeking, kind, likeable, more sympathetic, tolerant, co-operative, consensual, trusting, collaborative, direct, tough minded, objective.
5. Emotional Stability: Calm, more secure, cool, less emotional, but sometimes become vulnerable to stress
My conscientiousness level is high, and so is the level of openness, which often crosses each others path. Using my openness to experience while being achievement oriented, a little more focus, practical sense and careful prudence is necessary, as it is not possible to achieve a set target without that. To be successful, high extraversion is necessary, as the high end facets point towards the effective leadership qualities in me, but add a lot of stress as well by creating lot of expectations. Hence a little management of agreeableness in terms of seeking affiliation and warmth and a little on tolerance would be good, to enhance my emotional stability in terms of vulnerability to stress.
To be achievement oriented, I need to be more assertive, as without assertion of one's objective, it is not possible to drive a team's focus towards a goal. As a team leader I have responsibilities towards my team as well as towards the organization. Hence I need to be very specific and target oriented regarding alignment of individual goals of my team members as well as of the organization. Assertiveness as a successful personality trait has helped me successfully retain a direct communication between my operational team and the client's of the organization to run the business successfully. This trait has effectively retained the client's trust and faith in the organization's capacity to perform even in difficult situations, and helped retain the team's confidence in me. An organization benefits in innumerable ways from the commitment of an employee towards an organization. Employees having a high degree of organizational commitment identify themselves closely with the goals and values of the organization, are proud to work for the organization and work for the benefit of the organization. Organizational reform frequently destroys that commitment of the employee to the organization. Therefore, it is very important that proper action plans during such a reform is made so as to retain and enhance that existing level of organizational commitment as it is invaluable for that organization (Shu-Jen Lin, J. She-Cheng Lin and Ben-Yuan Lin, 2010)
Action Plan for Changing Behaviors
Hackman and Oldham, (1975) opinionate that based on the work characteristics model, change in work characteristics involves five core dimensions related to work, including skill diversity, task integrity, task significance, autonomy and feedback. Changes in work characteristics effectively raise the internal quality of the content of employee jobs and, as a result, improves employee work attitude. (Shu-Jen Lin,J. She-Cheng Lin and Ben-Yuan Lin,2010:3682)
The following action plan is prepared with the aim of changing behaviors within the organization with that personality trait that is my strength.
Theme: Changing behaviors within Organization
Positive /Strong Personality Trait
Present Team Attitude
Actions to be Performed
High on extraversion, poor performance due to high sociability amongst members, lack of team accountability and supportive attitude towards the other members
Developing team accountability, developing performance and achievement drive, building an interactive and supportive organizational environment
Organizing a brain storming session on performance and achievement on a preset organizational goal aiming to arrive at the necessary actions to be taken. Through this session itself team accountability and supportive environment can be developed by setting up objectives to be achieved on a timeline.
Conclusion: For running organizational management effectively, it is very important for team leaders to have a very clear understanding of the personality traits that essentially comprise the overall employee psychology of an organization, as well as specific teams dealing with specific job responsibilities. Every organization does not require every kind of individual personality in its organizational climate, as it often adversely affects the organizational behavior and performance. Hence, it is important for team leaders as well as the HR department of an organization to understand the job design of the organization, and the requisite employee personality type that would best fit into it. A precise knowledge of the personality and individual differences would also enhance effective management of the organization, particularly during a reform.