In our latest blog series, Ruby Star Associate’s researcher Anthony has been looking at some research studies about business growth in more depth. Here he delves into ‘Personality & Job Scope’
You can read Anthony’s previous blog ‘How King Should Your Customer Be? here.
Ever worked with someone that just didn’t suit their role? Or ever felt like “this job just isn’t me?” There’s a good chance that you may be right, in the second part of our research blogs we investigate the possible reasons why this might…then again you could just be neurotic (don’t know what neurotic means? You’re in luck, read on…..)
Personality has been measured left, right and centre for decades. Ernest Tupes and Raymond Christal were the first to create an initial model of personality back in 1961. They were soon followed by Goldberg, Cattell, and Costa and McCrae.. They found and investigated five overarching domains which represented the basic structure and contained the most known traits in personality. These five traits were identified as:
1. Openness – this reflects the degree of a person’s intellectual curiosity, creativity and a preference for novelty and variety.
2. Conscientiousness – those who are conscientious have a tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, aim for achievement, plan their behavior, are well organised, and dependable.
3. Extraversion – extraverts have high energy, increased positive emotions, are more assertive and sociable, and have a tendency to seek stimulation in the company of others.
4. Agreeableness – those possessing this trait show a tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others. It is also a measure of one’s’ trusting and helpful nature, and whether a person is generally well tempered or not.
5. Neuroticism – the tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily, such as anger, anxiety, depression, or vulnerability. Neuroticism also refers to the degree of emotional stability and impulse control.
Raja and Johns (2010) examined the relation between personality and three dimensions of job performance (in-role performance, creativity, and citizenship behavior) under differing levels of job scope (complexity of a job). Self-reported surveys were completed by 383 participants with the aim of the study to see if certain personalities were more suited to more complex jobs with higher numbers of tasks to complete.
With the potentially conflicting effects of gender and worker organisation statistically controlled for, only conscientiousness and extraversion* were significantly related to job performance, both positively. When thinking about it, this makes sense as conscientious individuals are much more methodical and plan-based which is ideal for jobs which contain many ongoing tasks. Similarly, individuals who are stimulation seekers, more outgoing, and more assertive, are much more suited for jobs which require multi-tasking and have a high job scope.
Neuroticism had a negative relation with performance in jobs which required the completion of multiple tasks (high job scope) and a positive relation in jobs which required the completion of fewer tasks (low job scope). Neuroticism had a significantly negative relation to in-role performance and creativity when the need for multi-tasking was higher. This dimension is particularly interesting when you look at wther people are better suited to specialist or generalist roles (generalists tend to have higher job scope).
We have to operate in our whole job, not just separate dimensions or aspects of a job. Therefore, although research focusing on dimensions of jobs can be helpful for job design, the study’s results are most useful when it comes to placing individuals with similar skills but different personalities on various jobs and for thinking about how you structure messages to respond to different personality types. For instance, some of the potential problems that employee neuroticism might entail can be restructured by thinking about many parallel responsibilities are required for a role.
The authors argue that when a job becomes more complex and demanding, extraverts tend to move to protect their self-interest. If this is true then managers have to ensure that extraverted individuals are provided with safety mechanisms or help that ensures their self-interest so that their energy and ambition can be deployed on a demanding job.
Even if employees are not ideally placed within the right dimensions that suit their personalities, it helps knowing what type of person your co-worker is. This is especially the case when, for example, presenting ideas to different groups of people. A more conscientious group of people would want to know the finer details and the planning behind your work, whereas more extraverted or open groups would not be as concerned with the minutiae.
Raja, U., Johns, G. (2010). The joint effects of personality and job scope on in-role performance, citizenship behaviors, and creativity.
*the characteristics and relative merits of extraverts and introverts have received a lot of attention recently – particularly in relation to skills for sales- so we may return to this in more detail in a future blog.
Posted by Rachel Warhurst