Point / Counterpoint: Traits Are Powerful Predictors of Behavior

 

The argument: if the individual’s personality changes as a result of exposure to organizational settings, in what sense can that individual be said to have traits that persistently and consistently affect his or her reactions to those very settings?

 

Trait theorists are focused in the measurement of traits, which can be defined as habitual patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion in which are relatively stable over time, differ across individuals, and influence behavior (Saul Kassin, (2003). Psychology. USA: Prentice-Hall, Inc.). One of the common frameworks widely used is the Five-Factor Model (OCEAN) which includes Openness to experience/intellect, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

 

From the case, it is highlighted that there are two important problems with using traits to explain a large proportion of behavior in organizations. First, organization settings are strong situations that have a large impact on employee behavior. And last, individuals are highly adaptive and personality traits change in response to organizational situations.

 

It is true that traits are powerful predictors of behavior in organizations and the argument in the case is an extreme situation. Managers value and use the trait theory in hiring employees, the Five-Factor Models concept help managers in identifying and hiring the necessary employees needed in the organization structure. These models help managers in generalizing the employees and help the managers in grouping the common trait employees in order to achieve a harmonious and effective work environment. The formal and informal organization settings are placed as indicators and not as manipulators or constraints in order to inform managers of the reactions of employees and whereas, will be able to react and adjust to certain scenarios/reactions. The employees may adjust or change their personality in terms of organization’s formal and informal constraints in time due to pressure of change, but before these changes happen, there will be reactions from employees. These reactions from employees are predicted by trait theories, these reactions are the persistent and consistent traits of employees based on the models and these reactions are important feedbacks needed to be recognized by managers. These feedbacks can be used to change the said organizational constraints in order to keep the behavior of the employees be predictable. On the other hand, these organizational constraints can be retained in order to influence the employees to the needed and expected behavior.

 

In a situation where the effects of traits for some time to be likely strongest in relatively weak organizational situations can be interpreted by managers, from trait theory, to be the trigger points and markers that the organization’s formal and informal settings to be really weak and needed to be changed. The change in rules, regulations and culture will be effective by predicting the reactions of employees with the use of trait theory models. These predicted reactions will help the necessary and expected changes in the organization be effective and efficient in terms of time and resources of the organization.

 

disclaimer: this is a reaction paper as a requirement from an MBA course in Organizational Behavior

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About marvzmartinez
an Engineer

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