Characteristics of People

The management of people would be much easier if everyone were the same, but they are, of course, different because of their ability, intelligence, personality, background and culture (the environment in which they were brought up), as discussed below. Gender, race and disability are additional factors to be taken into account. Importantly, the needs and wants of individuals will also differ, often fundamentally, and this affects their motivation, as described in the next chapter.

The headings under which personal characteristics can vary have been classified by Michel (1 981 ) as follows: ; Competencies – abilities and skills; ; Constructs – the conceptual framework which governs how people perceive their environment; ; Expectations – what people have learned to expect about their own and others’ behavior; ; Values – what people believe to be important; ; Self-regulatory plans – the goals people set themselves and the plans they make to achieve them.

Environmental or situational variables include the type of work individuals array out; the culture, climate and management style in the organization, the social group within which individuals work; and the ‘reference groups’ that individuals use for comparative purposes (egg comparing conditions of work between one category Of employee and another). Ability Ability is the quality that makes an action possible. Abilities have been analyses by Burt (1954) and Vernon (1961).

They classified them into two major groups: ; V:deed – standing for verbal, numerical, memory and reasoning abilities; ; K:m – standing for spatial and mechanical abilities, as well as perceptual (memory) ND motor skills relating to physical operations such as eye/hand coordination and mental dexterity. They also suggested that overriding these abilities there is a ‘g’ or general intelligence factor which accounts for most variations in performance.

Alternative classifications have been produced by ; Turnstone (1940) – spatial ability, perceptual speed, numerical ability, verbal meaning, memory, verbal fluency and inductive reasoning; ; Eagan (1977) – intellectual skills, cognitive (understanding and learning) skills, verbal and motor skills; ; Argyle (1989) – judgment, creativity and social kills.

Intelligence Intelligence has been defined as: ; ‘the capacity to solve problems, apply principles, make inferences and perceive relationships’ (Argyle, 1989); ; ‘the capacity for abstract thinking and reasoning with a range of different contents and media’ (Topsoil et al 1991); ; ‘the capacity to process information’ (Making et al, 1 996); ; Whap is measured by intelligence tests’ (Wright and Taylor, 1970). The last, tautological definition is not facetious.

As an operational definition, it can be related to the specific aspects Of reasoning, inference, cognition (ii owing, conceiving) and perception (ii understanding, recognition) that intelligence tests attempt to measure. General intelligence, as noted above, consists of a number of mental abilities that enable a person to succeed at a wide variety of intellectual tasks that use the faculties of knowing and reasoning. The mathematical technique of factor analysis has been used to identify the constituents of intelligence, such as Throne’s (1940) multiple factors listed above.

But there is no general agreement among psychologists as to what these factors are or, indeed, whether there is such a thing as neural intelligence. An alternative approach to the analysis of intelligence was put forward by Guilford (1967), who distinguished five types of mental operation: thinking, remembering, divergent production (problem-solving which leads to unexpected and original solutions), convergent production (problem-solving which leads to the one, correct solution) and evaluating.

Personality Definition As defined by Topsoil et al (1991), the term personality is all-embracing in terms of the individual’s behavior and the way it is organized and coordinated when he or she interacts with the environment. Personality can be described in terms of traits or types. The trait concept of personality Personality can be defined as the relatively stable and enduring aspects of individual that distinguish them from other people. This is the ‘transmittance, traits being précis-positions to behave in certain ways in a variety of different situations.

The assumption that people are consistent in the ways they express these traits is the basis for making predictions about their future behavior. We all attribute traits to people in an attempt to understand why they behave in the way they do. As Chill (1987) says: “This cognitive process gives a Sense of Order to what might otherwise appear to be senseless uncoordinated behaviors. Traits may therefore be thought of as classification systems, used by individuals to understand other people and their own behavior. The so-called big five personality traits as defined by Dreary and Matthews (1993) are: ; Neurotics – anxiety, depression, hostility, self-consciousness, impulsiveness, vulnerability; ; Extroversion – warmth, gregariousness, assertiveness, activity, excitement seeking, positive emotions; ; Openness -? feelings, actions, ideas, values; Agreeableness – trust, straightforwardness, altruism, compliance, modesty, tender mindedness; ; Conscientiousness -? competence, order, dutifulness, achievement-striving, self-discipline, deliberation.

Twiddle used instrument for assessing traits is Chattel’s (1963) 1 APP test. But the trait theory of personality has been attacked by people such as Michel (1981), Chill (1985) and Hare (1979). The main criticisms have been as follows: People do not necessarily express the same trait across different situations or even the same trait in the same situation. Different people may exhibit consistency in some traits and considerable variability in others.

Classical trait theory as formulated by Chattel (1963) assumes that the manifestation of trait behavior is independent of the situations and the persons with whom the individual is interacting – this assumption is questionable, given that trait behavior usually manifests itself in response to specific situations. Trait attributions are a product of language – they are devices for speaking about people and are not generally described in terms of behavior. Type theories of personality Type theory identifies a number of types of personality that can be used to doctorate people and may form the basis of a personality test.

The types may be linked to descriptions of various traits. One of the most widely used type theories is that of Jung (1923). He identified four major preferences of people: Relating to other people – extroversion or introversion; Gathering information – sensing (dealing with facts that can be objectively verified) or intuitive (generating information through insight); using information – thinking (emphasizing logical analysis as the basis for decision- making) or feeling (making decisions based on internal values and beliefs);

Making decisions – perceiving (collecting all the relevant information before making a decision) or judging (resolving the issue without waiting for a large quantity of data). This theory of personality forms the basis of personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs Types Indicator. Essence (1953) identified three personality traits: extroversion/introversion, neurotics and psychotics, and classified people as stable or unstable extroverts or introverts. For example, a stable introvert is passive, careful, controlled and thoughtful, while a stable extrovert is lively, outgoing responsive and sociable.

As Making et al (1996) comment, studies using types to predict work-related behaviors are less common and may be difficult to interpret: “In general it would be fair to say that their level of predictability IS similar to that for trait measures. ” The influence of background Individual differences may be a function of people’s background, which will include the environment and culture in which they have been brought up and now exist. Leveling (1978) suggested that “individual life structure” is shaped by three types of external event: The socio-cultural environment; The roles they play and the relationships they have;

The opportunities and constraints that enable or inhibit them to express and develop their personality. Differences arising from gender, race or disability It is futile, dangerous and invidious to make assumptions about inherent differences between people because of their sex, race or degree of disability. If there are differences in behavior at work, these are more likely to arise from environmental and cultural factors than from differences in fundamental personal characteristics. The work environment undoubtedly influences feelings and behavior for each of these categories.

Research cited y Arnold et al (1991) established that working women as a whole “experienced more daily stress, marital dissatisfaction, and ageing worries, and were less likely to show overt anger than either housewives or men”. Ethnic minorities may find that the selection process is biased against them, promotion prospects are low and that they are subject to other overt or subtle forms of discrimination. The behavior of people with disabilities can also be affected by the fact that they are not given equal opportunities.

There is, of course, legislation against discrimination in each of those areas but this Anton prevent the more covert forms of prejudice. ATTITUDES An attitude Can broadly be defined as a settled mode Of thinking. Attitudes are evaluative. As described by Making et al (1996), ‘Any attitude contains an assessment of whether the object to which it refers is liked or disliked. ‘ Attitudes are developed through experience but they are less sat bled than traits and can change as new experiences are gained or influences absorbed.

Within organizations they are affected by cultural factors (values and norms), the behavior of management (management style), policies such as those unconcerned with pay, recognition, promotion and the quality of working life, and the influence of the ‘reference group’ (the group with whom people identify). INFLUENCES ON BEHAVIOR AT WORK Factors affecting behavior Behavior at work is dependent on both the personal characteristics of individuals (personality and attitudes) and the situation in which they are working. These factors interact, and this theory of behavior is sometimes called interactions.

It is because of this process of interaction and because there are so many variables in personal characteristics and situations that behavior is difficult to analyses and predict. It is generally assumed that attitudes determine behavior, but there is not such a direct link as most people suppose. As Arnold et al (1 991 ) comment, research evidence has shown that: “People’s avowed feelings and beliefs about someone or something seemed only loosely related to how they behaved towards it. ” Behavior will be influenced by the perceptions Of individuals about the situation they are in.

The term psychological climate has been coined by James and Sells (1981) to describe how people’s perceptions of the situation give it psychological significance and meaning. They suggested that the key environmental variables are: Role characteristics such as role ambiguity and conflict (see the last section in this chapter); Job characteristics such as autonomy and challenge; Leader behaviors, including goal emphasis and work facilitation; work group characteristics, including cooperation and friendliness; Organizational policies that directly affect individuals, such as the reward system.

ATTRIBUTION THEORY – HOW WE MAKE JUDGMENTS ABOUT PEOPLE The ways in which we perceive and make judgments about people at work are explained by attribution theory, which concerns the assignment of causes o events. We make an attribution when we perceive and describe other people’s actions and try to discover why they behaved in the way they did. We can also make attributions about our own behavior. Hider (1958) has pointed out that: ‘In everyday life We form ideas about other people and about social situations.

We interpret other people’s actions and we predict what they will do under certain circumstances. ‘ In attributing causes to people’s actions we distinguish between what is in the person’s power to achieve and the effect of environmental influence. A personal cause, whether money does well or badly, may, for example, be the amount of effort displayed, while a situational cause may be the extreme difficulty of the task.

Kelley (1967) has suggested that there are four criteria that we apply to decide whether behavior is attributable to personal rather than external (situational) causes: Distinctiveness – the behavior can be distinguished from the behavior of other people in similar situations; Consensus – if other people agree that the behavior is governed by some personal characteristic; Consistency over time – whether the behavior is repeated; Consistency over totality (ii the manner in which things are done) – whether or not the behavior is repeated in different situations.

Attribution theory is also concerned with the way in which people attribute success or failure to themselves. Research by Whiner (1974) and others has indicated that when people with high achievement needs have been successful, they ascribe this to internal factors such as ability and effort. High achievers tend to attribute failure to lack of effort and not lack of ability. Low achievers tend not to link success with effort but to ascribe their failures to lack of ability. ORIENTATION TO WORK

Orientation theory examines the factors that are instrumental, ii serve as a means, in directing people’s choices about work. An orientation is a central organizing principle that underlies people’s attempts to make sense of their lives. In relation to work, as defined by Guest (1 984): ‘An orientation is a persisting tendency to seek certain goals and rewards from work which exists independently of the nature of the work and the work content. ‘ The orientation approach stresses the role of the social environment factor as a key factor affecting motivation.

Orientation theory is primarily developed room fieldwork carried out by sociologists rather than from laboratory work conducted by psychologists. Slaveholder et al (1968) studied skilled and semi- skilled workers in Alton, and, in their findings, they stressed the importance of instrumental orientation, that is, a view of work as a means to an end, a context in which to earn money to purchase goods and leisure. According to Slaveholder, the ‘affluent’ worker interviewed by the research team valued work largely for extrinsic reasons.

In their research carried out with blue collar workers in Petrography, Blackburn and Mann (1979) found a wider anger of orientations. They suggested that different ones could come into play with varying degrees of force in different situations. The fact that workers, in practice, had little choice about what they did contributed to this diversity -? their orientations Were affected by the choice or lack of choice presented to them and this meant that they might be forced to accept alternative orientations. But Blackburn and Mann confirmed that pay was a key preference area, the top preferences being: . Ay; 2. Security; 3. Workmates; Intrinsic job satisfaction; 4. 5. Autonomy. They commented that: “An obsession with wages clearly emerged… A concern to minimize unpleasant work was also widespread. ” Surprisingly, perhaps, they also revealed that the most persistent preference of all was for outside work, “a fairly clear desire for a combination of fresh air and freedom”. ROLES When faced with any situation, egg carrying out a job, people have to enact a role in order to manage that situation. This is sometimes called the ‘situation- act model’.

As described by Chill (1985), the model indicates that: “the person must act within situations: situations are rule-governed and how a person behaves is often prescribed by these socially acquired rules. The person thus adopts a suitable role in order to perform effectively within the situation. ” At work, the term role describes the part to be played by individuals in fulfilling their job requirements. Roles therefore indicate the specific forms of behavior required carrying out a particular task or the group of tasks contained in a position or job.

Work role profiles primarily define the requirements in terms of the ways tasks are carried out rather than the tasks themselves. They may refer to broad aspects of behavior, especially with regard to working with there and styles of management. A distinction can therefore be made between a job description, which simply lists the main tasks an individual has to carry out, and a role profile, which is more concerned with the behavioral aspects of the work and the outcomes the individual in the role is expected to achieve.

The concept of a role emphasizes the fact that people at work are, in a sense, always acting a part; they are not simply reciting the lines but interpreting them in terms of their own perceptions of how they should behave in relation to the context in which they work, especially with regard to heir interactions with other people and their discretionary behavior. Role theory, as formulated by Katz and Kahn (1966) states that the role individuals occupy at work -? and elsewhere – exists in relation to other people – their role set.

These people have expectations about the individuals’ role, and if they live up to these expectations they will have successfully performed the role. Performance in a role is a product of the situation individuals are in (the organizational context and direction or influence exercised from above or elsewhere in the organization) and their own skills, competences, attitudes ND personality. Situational factors are important, but the role individuals perform can both shape and reflect their personalities. Stress and inadequate performance result when roles are ambiguous, incompatible, or in conflict with one another.

Role ambiguity When individuals are unclear about what their role IS, what is expected of them, or how they are getting on, they may become insecure or lose confidence in themselves. Role incompatibility Stress and poor performance may be caused by roles having incompatible elements, as when there is a clash between what other people expect from he role and what individuals believe is expected of them. Role conflict Role conflict results when, even if roles are clearly defined and there is no incompatibility between expectations, individuals have to carry out two antagonistic roles.

For example, conflict can exist between the roles of individuals at work and their roles at home. IMPLICATIONS FOR HRS SPECIALISTS The main implications for HRS specialists of the factors that affect individuals at work are as follows: Individual differences – when designing jobs, preparing learning programs, assessing and counseling staff, developing reward yester and dealing with grievances and disciplinary problems, it is necessary to remember that all people are different. This may seem obvious but it is remarkable how many people ignore it. What fulfils one person may not fulfill another.

Abilities, aptitudes and intelligence differ widely and particular care needs to be taken in fitting the right people into the right jobs and giving them the right training. Personalities and attitudes also differ. It is important to focus on how to manage diversity as described in the other topics. This should take account of individual differences, which will include any issues rising from the employment of women, people from different ethnic groups, those with disabilities and older people. Personalities should not be judged simplistically in terms of stereotyped traits.

People are complex and they change, and account has to be taken of this. The problem for HRS specialists and managers in general is that, while they have to accept and understand these differences and take full account of them, they have ultimately to proceed on the basis of fitting them to the requirements of the situation, which are essentially what the organization needs to achieve. There is always a limit to the extent to which an organization, which relies on collective effort to achieve its goals, can adjust itself to the specific needs of individuals.

But the organization has to appreciate that the pressures it makes on people can result in stress and therefore become counterproductive. Judgments about people (attribution theory) – we all ascribe motives to other people and attempt to establish the causes of their behavior. We must be careful, however, not to make simplistic judgments about causality (ii what has motivated someone’s behavior) – for ourselves as well as in suspect of others -? especially when we are assessing performance.

Orientation theory – the significance of orientation theory is that it stresses the importance of the effect of environmental factors on the motivation to work. Role theory – role theory helps us to understand the need to clarify with individuals what is expected of them in behavioral and outcome terms and to ensure when designing roles that they do not contain any incompatible elements. We must also be aware of the potential for role conflict so that Steps can be taken to minimize stress. Chapter 18 – Motivation All organizations are concerned with what should be done to achieve sustained high levels of performance through people.

This means giving close attention to how individuals can best be motivated through such means as incentives, rewards, leadership and, importantly, the work they do and the organization context within which they carry out that work. The aim is to develop motivation processes and a work environment that will help to ensure that individuals deliver results in accordance with the expectations of management. Motivation theory examines the process of motivation. It explains why people at work behave in the way they do in terms of their efforts and the directions they are taking.

It describes what organizations can do to encourage people to apply their efforts and abilities in ways that will further the achievement of the organization’s goals as well as satisfying their own needs. It is also concerned with job satisfaction -the factors that create it and its impact on performance. In understanding and applying motivation theory, the aim is to obtain added value through people in the sense that the value of their output exceeds the cost of generating it. This can be achieved through discretionary effort.

In most if not all roles there is scope for individuals to decide how much effort they want to exert. They can do just enough to get away with it, or they can throw themselves into their work and deliver added value. Discretionary effort can be a key component in organizational performance. Unfortunately, approaches to motivation are too often underpinned by simplistic assumptions about how it works. The process of motivation is much more complex than many people believe. People have different needs, establish different goals to satisfy those needs ND take different actions to achieve those goals.