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Personality aspects of working with others.

Whitman N
Effective management of health and safety programs: a practical guide, 3rd edition. Moser R Jr., ed. Berverly Farms, MA: OEM Press, 2008 Mar; :107-116
People are different. Although this seemingly simple statement reflects a basic fact of nature, it is surprising how often we, as managers, experience serious problems because we forget this truism. Managerial approaches that work exceedingly well with one individual may generate resistance, or even hostility, with another person. To further complicate matters, a manager's actions that generated outstanding work by an individual last week may produce a dramatically different response this week. Such seeming paradoxes reflect the fact that each one of us has a distinct personality, composed of different components, and our personality is not static over time. An effective manager recognizes that personality orientations of colleagues are different and constantly changing and understands that his or her own personality will affect personal responses to others as well as to the diverse managerial challenges that occur each day. Personality development and structure are obviously complex. The fact that numerous personality tests are in use today highlights the difficulties in clearly defining the parameters of an individual's personality. Yet managers have to interact with people and obtain their support on a daily basis. They need to recognize that different members may require different approaches in order to obtain desired outcomes. Except in rare circumstances, managers are neither psychiatrists nor psychologists. However, recognizing and adapting to different personality types does not require a degree in one of these disciplines. While a manager without extensive psychometric training may not be able to delineate all the nuances of colleagues' personalities, this limitation does not preclude identifying major aspects of personality that, properly considered, will facilitate getting desired results. Various approaches have been developed to assist managers in defining personality characteristics of members of an organization. For example, in spite of strongly negative psychometric critiques, a number of companies still use Myers-Briggs evaluations. Respondents to Myers-Briggs answer a series of questions, and their responses are assigned to one of four categories indicating (1) introversion or extroversion, (2) intuitive or sensing, (3) feeling or thinking, or (4) perceiving or judging. The four categories are then combined to define 16 different types of individuals: For example, one type is the IST] (Introspective, Sensing, Thinking, Judging) person, who is purportedly quiet, serious, thorough, well organized, and responsibility-taking and works steadily and tenaciously toward accomplishing a project. Companies using this psychometric test for employee selection may look for a manager who demonstrates extroversion, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving traits. Aside from the negative critiques of Myers-Briggs evaluations, the number of categories makes it difficult for many managers to try to ascertain the orientation(s) of a colleague or another manager with whom they interact. Further complicating the situation is the fact that most managers reflect a combination of personality types rather than just one type. Eight or more types might be used to define a person's personality according to Myers-Briggs criteria. Unfortunately, it is easy for a person who has limited familiarity with the Myers-Briggs process and its constraints to inappropriately categorize another individual as one specific type and then act incorrectly on the basis of the false assessment [1]. A comparison of seven personality surveys, including the Myers-Briggs instrument, concluded that one style or type of person is not better than another and that each style or type has its own strengths and weaknesses. In fact, the findings using these tools demonstrate the heterogeneity of orgaizations and the value of learning to work with individuals with different personalities and styles [2].
Management-personnel; Occupational-health-programs; Occupational-safety-programs; Decision-making; Training; Education; Occupational-health; Environmental-health; Personality-traits; Behavior; Behavior-patterns; Work-environment; Work-organization; Workers; Performance-capability; Psychological-factors; Psychological-testing
Publication Date
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Moser R Jr.
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Effective management of health and safety programs: a practical guide, 3rd edition
Performing Organization
University of Utah
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division