By Memory Nguwi
INDIVIDUAL personality refers to our general attitude and behaviour across situations. It is largely hereditary and partly childhood experience.
Personality is a permanent disposition. Do not expect to change anyone’s personality regardless of what you do to them.
If you hire someone with a bad personality, you will not be able to change them.
Recent research shows that personality does not change at all.
What changes is that the dominant personality traitstend to mature as you grow.
The downside of personality defects is that good and very intelligent people may fail to achieve their goals.
You have probably encountered people who are extremely intelligent but have nothing to show for it.
You may also have metbrilliant people by any measurewho act foolishly. Some psychologists have called these people “intelligent fools”; clever but with no conscience.
Let us look at the big five personality traits and how they influence behaviour at work.
Conscientiousness is the first onedefined as “a broad dimension of personality that encompasses a person’s predisposition to control their behaviour in socially acceptable ways (Roberts, Jackson, Fayard, Edmonds, & Meints, 2009).
It reflects how organised someone is. Such people high on conscientiousness are always reliable and get the job done according to agreed plans.
The people, low on conscientiousness, are always late and rarely get things done according to agreed plans.
According to research,people high on conscientiousness tend to be “self-disciplined, think before they act, are goal-directed and follow socially prescribed rules and norms” (Roberts et al., 2009).
People low on conscientiousness will rarely deliver regardless of how gifted.
The second personality dimension is agreeableness, and it corresponds to how easy-going an individual is.
People high on agreeableness getalongwith everyone. Those low on agreeableness tend to argue a lot, even for no apparent reason.
In contrast, people low on agreeableness “show lack of concern for others, are tense, irritable, and rebellious, thus they tend to display unethical behaviour “(Walumbwa & Schaubroeck, 2009). Such people are not suitable for customer interfacing roles.
The third one of the big five personality traits is extroversion. This trait reflects in highly social people who are outgoing and very comfortable interacting with people, even strangers.
These people tend to do well in jobs requiring social interaction, for example,in business development.
The fourth personality trait is openness to experience. People high on this trait are open-minded.
They are likely to welcome new ideas and new ways of doing things. An individual low on this trait is averse to new ideas.
They stick to the traditional ways of doing things: they stick to familiar ways even if such ways are no longer adding value.
This trait is associated with success in several professions.
The fifth personality trait is called neuroticism. This trait reflects how emotionally volatile someone is.
Highly neurotic individuals are prone to frequent changes in mood.
They experience negative affect (bad feelings) most of the time.
In most of the studies, neuroticism is the significant predictor of unethical behaviour (e.g., Camps et al., 2016; Walumbwa & Schaubroeck, 2009).
Individuals low on neuroticism “valuemorality, loyalty, and obedience to norms.
They have a sense of direction and are altruistic and emphatic” (Karim et al., 2009).
What is even more lethal is a combination of low agreeableness and high neuroticism.
Such individuals are ruthless and care not about how others feel.
They survive on setting people against each other as long as it benefits them.
The best way to handle personality defects in your employees is to screen them at entry.
In some instances, what employers are calling non-performance is a dysfunctional personality.
- Nguwi is an occupational psychologist, data scientist, speaker and managing consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and HR consulting firm. — ipcconsultants.com