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What Is the Role of Personality in Organizational Behavior?

By Jennifer Leigh
Updated May 16, 2024
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Personality plays a key role in organizational behavior because the way that people think, feel, and behave affects many aspects of the workplace. People's personalities influence their behavior in groups, their attitudes, and the way they make decisions. Interpersonal skills hugely affect the way that people act and react to things during work. In the workplace, personality also affects such things as motivation, leadership, performance, and conflict. The more that managers understand how personality in organizational behavior works, the better equipped they are to be effective and accomplish their goals.

People have many different views of the world that affect their personalities. When a situation arises, an individual will handle it based upon his or her personal values, beliefs, and personality traits. These traits are developed throughout a person's lifetime and cannot be easily changed, so it is more helpful for managers to attempt to understand this rather than to fight it.

Traits such as openness, emotional stability, and agreeableness all predict that an individual will have less conflict, work better in teams, and have positive attitudes about his or her work. People with this type of personality should be placed in situations where they would be working with or leading others. Those who do not have these traits will have less motivation and be more negative when they are placed in these same situations.

Positive interpersonal skills is a personality trait that greatly affects the workplace. Individuals who exhibit this trait generally enjoy working with other people, and they have the empathy and sensitivity that enables them to get along well with others. People with this trait are often placed in roles where they work with customers, manage employees, or mediate problems.

Decision-making and independence are greatly affected by personality. Personality traits such as self-efficacy, conscientiousness, and pro-activity contribute to good decision-making under pressure and independence, while traits such as neuroticism and not being open do not. Managers can place individuals with these traits in appropriate positions to do their best work.

Placing individuals with certain characteristics in jobs that best suit them raises their levels of motivation. It also affects their overall job performance because they are happier on a daily basis. This affects the overall productivity of the workplace because more is getting accomplished due to better attitudes and happier employees.

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Discussion Comments

By John57 — On Apr 07, 2012

I think that some kind of personality testing should be a regular part of career counseling. If people understood what type of personality best fits a job or career, it might be easier for them to make a career choice.

There is nothing worse than showing up for a job every day that you are not suited for because of your personality. This is not only stressful for you, but is not beneficial for anybody around you.

A good manager or interviewer will be able to sense this and make a good fit. There are many people in these positions though who don't have a clue about this because they have never had any training.

There is a big difference between just filling an open position and making sure it is filled with a person who has the right personality for the job.

By julies — On Apr 06, 2012
I am a working adult who is going back to school part-time. In my psychology class we were learning about personalities and the role they play in the decisions someone makes.

There was a personality test everyone in the class took. It was really interesting to evaluate the responses and see what category different people were a part of.

I had my husband and each of my kids take this same personality test. This was a real eye-opener for me. Every one of us has a distinct, different personality. No wonder there was so much conflict!

Once I was able to identify why my daughter, who has a personality much different than mine, reacted the way she did, it was easier to deal with her.

Even something as simple as getting her to clean her room was better when I learned how to approach it in the context of her personality.

By LisaLou — On Apr 06, 2012

I work in management at a large retail store and one of the best things I did was attend a class on dealing with different personalities.

Since this is something that is a natural part of the way someone is made up, you are not going to change someone's personality.

The best thing you can do in an employment situation is find a job that fits their personality where they will be motivated to do their best.

What a difference this makes in the attitude of employees when they are comfortable with their job description. You have less conflict with other workers and a much easier time keeping them motivated and interested in their work.

Not only is it a better fit for the employee, but also makes my job much more pleasant and less frustrating.

By kylee07drg — On Apr 05, 2012

There are situations in which a person is totally unfit for any position. I worked with someone like this, and he became so unpleasant that no one could work with him.

It was very strange, because he used to be sociable and likeable. He worked in customer service, and he seemed perfect for it.

After his girlfriend broke up with him, it ruined him. He became bitter and snapped at everyone often, and the boss switched him to a role in the background, thinking that he would get better over time and be able to return to customer service.

Instead, he became more bitter and impossible to talk to, even just about work stuff. The boss realized that the situation had gotten out of hand, and rather than put everyone else in the building through the misery of dealing with him on a daily basis, he fired him.

By wavy58 — On Apr 05, 2012

I manage an office of thirteen employees, and I have no problems switching their jobs around to suit their personalities. I think this works out best for the company in the end, anyway.

Some larger corporations require a lot of official paperwork, interviews, and performance reviews for a transfer. In my office, it is as simple as signing one sheet of paper stating that the employee understands his new duties and rate of pay.

Just last month, I let two people switch jobs. A woman in reception desperately wanted to be a sales rep, and a sales rep really wanted a job where she could stay inside the building at one desk all day. Both are happier now, and both are probably going to do better work because of this.

By lighth0se33 — On Apr 04, 2012

@shell4life - Your story reminds me of one I heard about a girl who worked at a vet clinic with my sister. How she got the job is a mystery, because she is scared to death of dogs!

The vet let her answer phones and do paperwork, but part of her job description was taking animals for walks out back and helping them up onto the exam tables. She could not do it. She would back away and break out in a sweat when she saw a dog, and the vet worked on more dogs than any other animal!

The vet had to let her go. It was a small office, and she needed someone who could multitask. I just wonder what this poor girl was thinking when she applied for the job!

By shell4life — On Apr 03, 2012

I really had the wrong job for my personality a few years ago. I started working at the front desk in an office, and I had to answer phones and deal with people all day long.

I have always been shy, and this job gave me frequent anxiety attacks. I dreaded hearing the phone ring or the bell on the door go off as it opened and someone stepped through.

As soon as a position in the back came open, I applied for it. My manager knew that it would be a better fit for me, because I would only be dealing with a computer instead of other people. He transferred me, and we both benefited from this.

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