Personality is a complex, multi-dimensional construct and there is no simple definition of what personality is. Maddi defines personality as, “A stable set of characteristics and tendencies that determine those commonalities and differences in the psychological behavior and that may not be easily understood as the sole result of the social and biological pressures of the moment”.
From the above definition we can infer that all individuals have some universally common characteristics. Yet they differ in some other specific attributes. This makes it difficult for the managers to assume that they can apply same reward types or motivation techniques to modify different individual behaviors. The definition, however, does not mean that people never change. In simple terms, it asserts that individuals do not change all at once. Their thoughts, feelings, values and actions remain relatively stable over time. Changes in individual’s personality can, however, occur gradually over a period of time. The managers should, therefore, attempt to understand certain dimensions of personality. This can enable them to predict the behavior of their employees on a daily basis.
Some personality theorists stress the need 6f identifying person-situation as interaction. This is equivalent to recognizing the social learning aspects related to personality. Such a social learning analysis is one of the most comprehensive and meaningful ways included in the overall study of organizational behavior. From this perspective, personality means the way people affect others. It also involves people’s understanding themselves, as well as their pattern of inner and outer measurable traits, and the person and situation interaction. People affect others depending primarily upon their external appearance such as height, weight, facial features, color and other physical aspects and traits.
Personality traits are very important in organizational behavior. In particular, five personality traits especially related to job performance have recently emerged from research. Characteristics of these traits can be summarized as follows:
1. Extroversion: Sociable, talkative and assertive.
2. Agreeableness: Good-natured, cooperative and trusting.
3. Conscientiousness: Responsible, dependable, persistent and achievement-oriented.
4. Emotional Stability: Viewed from a negative standpoint such as tense, insecure and nervous.
5. Openness to Experience: Imaginative, artistically sensitive and intellectual.
Identifying the above “big five” traits related to performance reveals that personality plays an important role in organizational behavior. Besides physical appearance and personality traits, the aspects of personality concerned with the self-concept such as self-esteem and self-efficacy and the person-situation interaction also play important roles.