Personality Traits at Work
There are several personality traits that influence behavior in organizations. Among the most important are locus of control, self-efficiency, authoritarianism, Machiavellianism, self-esteem, and risk prosperity.
Managers need to realize that people vary along a wide array of personality traits. The personality traits provide useful frameworks for understanding how and why people differ. At the same time, managers should also realize that myriad other traits exist and that assessing and understanding precisely how a given trait affects behavior is difficult, at best. The personality traits at work continues to attract the attention of both researchers and managers. The potential value of this traits are that it encompasses an integrated set of traits that appear to be valid predictors of certain behaviors in certain situations. Thus, managers who can develop both an understanding of the traits and the ability to assess these traits in their employees will be in a good positions to understand how and why they behave as they do. On the other hand, managers must also be careful not to overestimate their ability to assess the personality traits in others. Even assessment using the most rigorous and valid measures, for instance, is still likely to be somewhat imprecise. Another limitation of these personality traits is that it is based primarily on research conducted in the United States. Thus, there are unanswered questions about its generalizability to other cultures. And even within the United States, a variety of other factors and traits are also likely to affect behavior in organizations.
Personality Traits Dynamics:
Locus of control is the extent to which people believe that their behavior has a real effect on what happens to them. Some people believe, for example, that if they work hard they will succeed. They may also believe that people who fail do so because they lack ability or motivation. People who believe that individuals are in control of their lives are said to have an internal locus of control. Other people think that fate , chance, luck, or other people’s behavior determines what happens to them. For example, an employee who fails to get a promotion may attribute that failure to a politically motivated boss or just bad luck rather than to her or his own lack of skills or poor performance record. People who think that forces beyond their control dictate what happens to them are said to have an external locus of control.
Self-efficacy is a related but subtly different personality characteristic. Self-efficacy is a person’s beliefs about his or her capabilities to perform a task. People with high self-efficacy believe that they can perform well on a specific task. While self-assessments of ability contribute to self-efficacy, so too does the individual’s personality. Some people simply have more self-confidence than others do. This belief in their ability to perform a task effectively results in them being more self-assured and more able to focus their attention on performance.
Another important personality characteristic is authoritarianism, the extent to which an individual, believes that power and status differences are appropriate within hierarchical social systems like organizations. For example, a person who is highly authoritarian may accept directives or orders from someone with more authority purely because the other person is “the boss”.On the other hand , while a person who is not highly authoritarian may still carry out appropriate and reasonable directives from the boss, he or she is also more likely to question things, express disagreement with the boss, and even to refuse carry out orders if they are objectionable for some reason. A highly authoritarian manager may be autocratic and demanding, and highly authoritarian subordinates will be more likely to accept this behavior from their leader. On the other hand, a less authoritarian manager may allow subordinates a bigger role in making decisions, and less authoritarian subordinates will respond positively to this behavior.
Machiavellianism is another important personality trait. This concept is named after Niccolo Machiavelli, a sixteenth-century author. In his book entitled The Prince, Machiavelli explained how the nobility could more easily gain and use power. Machiavellianism, is now used to describe behavior directed at gaining power and controlling the behavior of others. Research suggests that machiavellianism is a personality trait that varies from person to person. More Machiavellian individuals tend to be rational and nonemotional, may be willing to lie to attain their personal goals, put little weight on loyalty and friendship highly, and get little personal pleasure from manipulating others.
Self-esteem is the extra to which a person believes that he or she is a worth while and deserving individual. A person with high self-esteem is more likely to seek higher status jobs, be more confident in his ability to achieve higher levels of performance, and derive greater intrinsic satisfaction from his accomplishments. In contrast, a person with less self-esteem may be more content to remain in a lower-level job, be less confident of his/her ability, and focus more on extrinsic rewards. Among the major personality dimensions, self-esteem is the one that one has been most widely studied in other countries. While more research is clearly needed, the published evidence suggests that self-esteem as a personality trait does indeed exist in a variety of countries and that its role in organizations is reasonably important across different cultures.
Risk propensity is the degree to which an individual is willing to take chances and make risky decisions. A manager with a high risk propensity, for example, might be expected to experiment with new ideas and gamble on new products. He/She might also lead the organization in new and different directions. This manager might also be a catalyst for innovation. On the other hand, same individual might also jeopardize the continued well-being of organization if the risky decisions prove to be bad ones. A manager with low risk propensity might lead to a stagnant and overly conservative organization, or help the organization successfully weather turbulent and unpredictable times by maintaining stability and calm. Thus, the potential consequences of risk propensity to an organization are heavily dependent on that organization’s environment.