How would you describe your personality? Personality traits play an important role in determining the likelihood of excellent job performance. Research in psychology has been applied in management to explain factors such as leadership ability, job performance, job satisfaction, interpersonal skills and cooperation with colleagues.  Personality traits have been noted to the different qualities that can be attached to an individual’s behaviour. There have been tests on personality including the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which focuses on classifying people based on their personality types. Many organisations today are very particular about each job candidate’s personality.

Generally, the tests cover areas such as extraversion (which explains sociability); ambition and drive (which explains the need for recognition and achievement) and agreeableness (which focuses on good working relationships with other people). I know a friend of mine who was very qualified and experienced but was told that his personality was not compatible with that of the organisation. I also now an incident where a young lady claimed she was sociable on the personality test while she was an introvert. Her true personality limited her performance profoundly. She was dismissed because she did not provide the honest truth on the personality test. It is true that when answering a personality test, an individual can enhance her appearance on the test based on the motivation to get the job. This is something organisations should consider carefully.

It is also plausible that highly qualified and experienced candidates may also answer in a way that does not reflect their overall personality. For instance if someone is too nervous during the test or is having emotional crisis they may answer “incorrectly” under such circumstances. However that responsibility lies much on the shoulders of the job candidate. There is limited work organisations can do except to ensure the potential job candidate feels comfortable when they provide answers to such personality tests. I am personally interested in the Big Five Personality Model which aims to explain suitability of a candidate based on five qualities which are agreeableness; emotional stability; openness to experience; conscientiousness and extraversion. Many management scholars agree that conscienteousness is the most important dimension of the five because it is related to job performance. Conscientiousness means dependability. Of course one has to be dependable at work, but other qualities cannot be side-lined such as emotional stability, agreeableness and extraversion. So when it comes to job performance the most important values to develop on a personal level are reliability and stress management (emotional stability). These qualities can easily be changed as compared to changing your extraversion (for instance an introvert shifting to be an extrovert will be hard). One can learn to be dependable and manage stress effectively.

About Mpho Bosupeng:

Mpho Bosupeng is a graduate in Finance and has keen interest in economic research, leadership and job performance. He has published books and numerous articles in academic journals.