“Personality refers to the relatively stable pattern of behaviours and consistent internal states that explains a person’s behavioural tendencies” (McShane & Glinow 2001). An individual’s personality is rather stable, but if it does change at all, it is only after a long period of time or as a result of traumatic events. “Personality has both internal and external elements” (Wilson 2004). The external traits are the apparent behaviours that we rely on to identify someone’s personality while the internal qualities represent the thoughts, values and genetic characteristics that we gather from the observable behaviours.
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An individual’s personality is both inherited and shaped from the environment. “Our personality is partly inherited genetically from our parents” (Holbeche 2005). However, these genetic personality characteristics are altered somewhat by life experiences. Recent studies have shown that “certain personality traits predict certain work-related behaviours, stress reactions and emotions fairly well under certain conditions” (Middleton 2002). In my opinion, because personality can be understood from behaviour, managers in the majority of organisations feel that there is a necessity to understand their employees’ individual characteristics.
“There is a predictable interaction between personality and a tendency to behave in certain ways” (Middleton 2002). In an article published recently, regarding how employers and managers should pick the right people during interviews, it points out that it is important to, “Get to know them, and take time to mull over the final decision, paying attention to the applicant’s personality rather than qualifications or experience. Find out how well they get along with others and how enthusiastic they are.
And be sure the job suits them” (Fairweather 2007). When recruiting new employees, Miss Theresa Tan, Lee Hwa Jewellery’s senior human resource manager states what she looks out for in applicants is, “A pleasant disposition, positive mindset, someone who is a goal-setter with energy and perseverance, and who is willing to work long hours” (Hahn 2007). These two employers make it evident that it is vital that they understand their employees’ personality which in turn allows their behaviour at work to be rather predictable.
MARS Model of Individual Behaviour and Competency-Based Approach According to the MARS Model of Individual Behaviour as shown in Appendix A, there are four factors which develop individual behaviour. The four influences on individual behaviour and performance are motivation, ability, role perceptions and situational factors. Besides using the MARS model to analyse employees’ personalities in order to achieve organisational objectives, “organisations are quickly moving toward a competency-based approach to employee performance” (McShane and Glinow 2001).
Competencies are the characteristics of employees that lead to superior performance, along with natural talent and learned abilities; it also includes a person’s values and personality traits. The main objective of using this approach is to identify the outstanding performers across the organisation. An example of such an approach used is, “Holiday Inn developed a list of competencies for executives, managers, technical, and administrative employees. The process began when the management identified characteristics and behaviours wanted in its future leaders” (Cohen et al.
2001). From my perspective, the following example might indicate the use of the MARS model concept and the competency-based approach. In the latest season of The Apprentice, Sean Yezback stood out as the winner over Lee Bienstock because “Trump loved Lee’s drive and ability to think outside the box, however, Sean’s reserved, yet confident, air and solid leadership throughout made the mogul’s pick easy” (The Apprentice: Donald Trump, 2007). Mr Trump observed Sean and Lee over a period of time and examined their respective behaviour and reactions respectively.
In my opinion, Mr Trump compared the two finalists’ abilities to complete assigned tasks, how they used their role perception to make sure they accomplish given tasks on time, with desired results, how goal orientated they were based on their motivation and how they reacted, given situational factors like time and budget constraints to complete their projects; to see which one of them would best fit the job of The Apprentice to help achieve the Trump organisation’s objectives. Myers-Biggs Type Indicator The Myers-Brigg Type Indicator, known as MBTI, addresses four distinct dimensions and organizes personality traits into four types.
“These dimensions are: introversion – extroversion; feeling-thinking; sensing-intuition; judgement-perception. According to the test, everyone has a personality type with four letters; for example, an accountant may be an ISTJ – introvert, sensing, thinking, judgement” (Cohen et al. 2001). These personality types can tell an employer what type of person the employee is and how they interact with others (peers and managers). An employer can also discover what types of skills they bring to the table, how they work in a team situation, as well as what type of an environment an employee works best in.
Myers-Briggs personality types allow managers to see that an employee’s talents should be treated as assets to be developed, leveraged and shared company-wide. By utilizing the information gleaned from the test, an employer can create a highly motivated work force capable of exceeding organisational objectives. By using tests such as Myers-Briggs, a company can conduct a comprehensive assessment to determine style, motivation, values, skills, knowledge and barriers of its employees.
Managers benefit from this testing process because it helps them take full advantage of their skills, abilities and competencies. In addition, the test will also help test takers make notes of any impediments that may be preventing them from moving ahead in their work life. It’s ultimately about bringing together a group that reflects a cross section of the various preferences can enhance team building. The goals set by the manager for the group must be compatible with the people who will strive to meet them. Whatever the goals, they must be reachable.
Teams that have people who are alike in personality work faster but do not have the benefit of ideas from other personality types. On the other hand, teams that have different types have more conflict in communicating but have more ideas. Personally, I feel that each occupation is usually suited for a particular type of personality, for instance, a nurse; as quoted in The Sunday Times (29 July 2007, p. 25), Professor Fock Kwong Ming said, “When we speak of the qualities a nurse should have, we frequently talk about a nurse being caring, compassionate, professional and gentle.
To this list, I will add what is frequently overlooked – optimism”. For example, SingHealth’s vision is to “To be a renowned organisation at the leading edge of Medicine, providing quality healthcare to meet our nation’s aspirations” (SingHealth Corporate Office 2007). Thus the above mentioned are indeed the essential qualities a nurse should have to achieve a health institution’s organisational objectives. In conclusion, personality refers to the totality of a person’s individuality and it does affect an employee’s behaviour in the workplace.
Managers of organisations can use the above mentioned concepts, namely the MARS Model of Individual Behaviour, Competency-Based Approach and the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI) to comprehend their staff personalities to achieve organisational objectives. With knowledge of their staff personalities, managers will be able to apply their staff strengths to their niche area, and also treat their weaknesses as a challenge or opportunity when it comes to team work. And therefore, work towards a common goal and achieve organisational objectives.