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 him or her. Recent research shows that personality does not change at all. What changes is that the dominant personality traits in you in early years tend to mature as you grow.
The downside of personality defects is that good and very intelligent people may fail to achieve their goals as a result. You have probably encountered people who are extremely intelligent but have nothing to show for it. You may also have encountered very intelligent people by any measure who act in a very stupid way. 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 one and defined 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 conscientious are always reliable and gets the job done according to agreed plans. The people low on conscientiousness are always late and rarely gets 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 they are intellectually.
The second personality dimension is Agreeableness and it corresponds to how easy-going an individual is. People high on agreeableness get along with 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, tense, irritable, and rebellious, thus they tend to display unethical behavior“(Walumbwa & Schaubroeck, 2009). Such people are not suitable for customer interfacing roles.
The third 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 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 and new ways of doing ways. 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 a number of professions.
The fifth personality trait is called Neuroticism. This trait reflects how emotionally volatile someone is. Highly neurotic individuals are prone towards frequent changes in mood. They experience negative affect (bad feelings) most of the time. In the majority of the studies, neuroticism has been found to be the significant predictor of unethical behavior (e.g., Camps et al., 2016; Walumbwa & Schaubroeck, 2009). Individuals low on neuroticism “value morality, loyalty, and obedience to norms. They have a sense of direction and are altruistic and emphatic” (Karim et al., 2009). This personality trait is linked to the leadership derailment we see in our societies.
What is even more lethal is a combination of low Agreeableness and high Neuroticism. Such individuals are very cruel and do not care 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 at entry. In some instances, what employers are calling non-performance is actually a dysfunctional personality.
Memory Nguwi is an Occupational Psychologist, Data Scientist, Speaker, & Managing Consultant- Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. https://www.linkedin.com/in/memorynguwi/ Phone +263 0242 481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com