Managers should learn as much as possible about personality in order to understand their employees. Hundreds of personality characteristics have been identified.

Characteristics of Personality in Organisational behaviour

We have selected eight characteristics because of their particular influences on individual behavior in organizations.

They are:

  1. Locus of Control
  2. Machiavellian-ism
  3. Self-esteem
  4. Self-efficacy
  5. Self-monitoring
  6. Positive/Negative affect
  7. Risk Taking
  8. Type A Personality,

Locus of Control

Some people believe they are masters of their own fate. Other people see themselves as pawns of fate, believing that what happens to them in their lives is due to luck or chance. An individual's generalized belief about internal (self) versus external (situation or others) control is called locus of control.

  1. Internals: Those who believe they control their destinies have been labeled internals. Internals (those with an internal locus of control) have been found to have higher job satisfaction, to be more likely to assume managerial positions, and to prefer participative management styles. In addition, internals have been shown to display higher work motivation, hold stronger beliefs that effort leads to performance, receive higher salaries and display less anxiety than externals (those with an external locus of control).
  2. Externals: Externals are those individuals who believe that what happens to them is controlled by outside forces such as luck or chance. Externals prefer a more structured work setting and they may be more reluctant to participate in decision making.

They are more compliant and willing to follow directions.

Research on locus of control has strong implications for organisations. A large amount of research comparing internals with externals has consistently shown that individuals who rate high in externality are less satisfied with their jobs, have higher absenteeism rates, are more alienated from the work setting, and are less involved on their jobs than internals.

Why are externals more dissatisfied? The answer is probably because they perceive themselves as having little control over those organisational outcomes that are important to them. Knowing about locus of control can prove valuable to managers. Because internals believe they control what happens to them, they will want to exercise control in their work environment. Allowing internals considerable voice is how work is performed is important. Internals will not react well to being closely supervised. Externals, in contrast, may prefer a more structured work setting, and they may be more reluctant to participate in decision-making.

Therefore, internals do well on sophisticated tasks – which includes most managerial and professional jobs – that require complex information processing and learning.

Additionally, internals are more suited to jobs that require initiative and independence of action. In contrast, externals should do well on jobs that are well structured and routine and where success depends heavily on complying with the directions of others.


Niccolo Machiavelli was a sixteenth century Italian statesman. He wrote "The Prince", a guide for acquiring and using power. The primary method for achieving power that he suggested was manipulation of others. Machiavellian-ism then is a personality characteristic indicating one's willingness to do whatever it takes to get one's way. An individual high in Machiavellian-ism is pragmatic, maintains emotional distance and believes that ends can justify means. "If it works use it", is consistent with a high-Mach perspective.

High-Machs believe that any means justify the desired ends. They believe that manipulations of others are fine if it helps to achieve a goal. Thus, high-Machs are likely to justify their manipulative behaviour as ethical. They are emotionally detached from other people and are oriented toward objective aspects of situations.

R Christie and F.L Ge is, have found that high-Mach's flourish -

  1. When they interact face to face with others rather than indirectly;
  2. When the situation has a minimum number of rules and regulations thus allowing latitude for improvisation; and
  3. When emotional involvement with details irrelevant to winning distracts low-Mach's.

A high-Mach individual behaves in accordance with Machiavelli's ideas, which include the notion that it is better to be feared than lived. High-Machs tend to use deceit in relationships have a cynical view of human nature and have little concern for conventional notions of right and wrong. They are skilled manipulators of other people, relying on their persuasive abilities. High-Machs are suitable in jobs that require bargaining skills or where there are substantial rewards for winning (example commissioned sales).


Self-esteem is an individual's general feeling of self-worth. Individuals with high self-esteem have positive feelings about themselves, perceive themselves to have strength as well as weaknesses, and believe their strengths are more important than their weaknesses. Individuals with low self-esteem view themselves negatively. They are more strongly affected by what other people think of them, and they compliment individuals who give them positive feedback while cutting down people who give them negative feedback.

Research on self-esteem (SE) offers some interesting insights into organisational behaviour.

  1. High-SEs: People with High SEs
    • believe they possess more of the ability they need in order to succeed at work,
    • will take more risks in job selection and are more likely to choose unconventional jobs,
    • are more satisfied with their jobs.
  2. Low-SEs: - People with low SEs
    • are more susceptible to external influence,
    • depend on the receipt of positive evaluations from others,
    • tend to be concerned with pleasing others and therefore, are less likely to take unpopular stands, and
    • are less satisfied with their jobs.

Self-esteem may be strongly affected by situations. Success tends to raise self-esteem, whereas failure tends to lower it. Given that high self-esteem is generally a positive characteristic, managers should encourage employees to raise their self-esteem by giving them appropriate challenges and opportunities for success.


Self-efficacy refers to an individual's belief that he or she is capable of performing a task. The higher your self-efficacy, the more confidence you have in your ability to succeed in a task. So, in difficult situations, we find that people with low self-efficacy are more likely to lessen their effort or give up altogether whereas those with high self193efficacy will try harder to master the challenge. In addition, individuals high in self efficacy seem to respond to negative feedback with increased effort and motivation; those low in self-efficacy are likely to lessen their effort when given negative feedback.

Individuals with high self-efficacy believes that they have the ability to get things done, that they are capable of putting forth the effort to accomplish the task, and that they can overcome any obstacles to their success. There are four sources of self-efficacy:

  • Prior experiences;
  • Behaviour models - witnessing the success of others;
  • Persuasion from other people; and
  • Assessment of current physical and emotional capabilities.

Believing in one's own capability to get something done is an important facilitator of success. There is strong evidence that self -efficacy leads to high performance on a wide variety of physical and mental tasks. Managers can help employees develop their self -efficacy. This can be done by providing performance, and rewarding employee's achievements.


A characteristic with great potential for affecting behaviour in organisations is self monitoring. Self-monitoring refers to an individual's ability to adjust his or her behavior to external situational factors.

High self-monitors pay attention to what is appropriate in particular situations and to the behaviour of other people, and they behave accordingly. Low self-monitors, in contrast, are not as vigilant to situational cues and act from internal states rather than paying attention to the situation. As a result, the behaviour of low self-monitors, because their behaviour varies with the situation appear to be more unpredictable and less consistent.

High self-monitors are capable of presenting striking contradictions between their public persona and their private self. Low self-monitors can't disguise themselves this way.

Positive/Negative Effect

Individuals who focus on the positive aspects of themselves, other people, and the world in general are said to have positive effect. In contrast, those who accentuate the negative in themselves, others, and the world are said to possess negative affect. Employees with positive effect are absent from work less often. Individuals with negative effect report more work stress. Negative individual effect produces negative group effect and this leads to less cooperative behaviour in the work group. Managers can do several things to promote positive effect, including allowing participative decision making and providing pleasant working conditions.


People differ in their willingness to take chances. High-risk-taking managers made more rapid decisions and used less information in making their choices than the low-risk taking managers.

While it is generally correct to conclude that managers in organizations are risk aversive, there are still individual differences on this dimension. As a result, it makes sense to recognise these differences and even to consider aligning risk-taking propensity with specific job demands. For example, a high-risk-taking propensity may lead to more effective performance for a stock broker but these personality characteristics might prove a major obstacle for an auditor.

Type A and Type B Personality

Type A behaviour pattern is a complex of personality and behavioural characteristics, including competitiveness, time urgency, social status insecurity, aggression, hostility and a quest for achievements. Type A personality individual is "aggressively involved in a chronic, struggle to achieve more and more in less and less time, and if required to do so, against the opposing efforts of other things or other persons".

Type A personality:

  1. Are always moving, walking, and eating rapidly:
  2. Feel impatient with the rate at which most events take place;
  3. Strive to think or do two or more things simultaneously;
  4. Cannot cope with leisure time; and
  5. Are obsessed with numbers, measuring their success in terms of how much of everything they acquire.

The alternative to the Type A behaviour pattern is the Type B behaviour pattern. People with Type B personalities are relatively free of the Type A behaviours and characteristics. Type B personalities are "rarely harried by the desire to obtain a wildly increasing number of things or participate in an endless growing series of events in an ever decreasing amount of time".

Type B personality:

  1. Never suffer from a sense of time urgency with its accompanying impatience;
  2. Feel no need to display or discuss either their achievements or accomplishments unless such exposure is demanded by the situation;
  3. Play for fun and relaxation, rather than to exhibit their superiority at any cost; and
  4. Can relax without guilt.

Organizations can also be characterised as Type A or Type B organizations. Type A individuals in Type B organisations and Type B individuals in Type A organizations experience stress related to a misfit between their personality type and the predominant type of the organization.

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