Achieving Personality Fitness

Twenty-five years ago, organizations were concerned with personality primarily because they wanted to match individuals to specific jobs. That concern still exists. But, in recent years, interest has expanded to include the individual – organization fit. Managers today are less interested in an applicant’s ability to perform a specific job than with his or her flexibility to meet changing situations.

The Person – job Fit:

In the discussion of personality attributes, our conclusions were often qualified to recognize that the requirements of the job moderated the relationship between possession of the personality characteristic and job performance. This concern with matching the job requirements with personality characteristics is best articulated in personality – job fit theory propounded by a HR expert. The theory is based on the notion of fit between an individual’s personality characteristics and his or her occupational environment. The expert presents six personality types and proposes that satisfaction and the propensity to leave a job depend on the degree to which individuals successfully match their personalities to- an occupational environment.

Each one of the six personality types has a congruent occupational environment.

A Vocational Preference Inventory questionnaire was developed by research experts in the field that contains 160 occupational titles. Respondents indicate which of these occupations they like or dislike, and their answers are used to form personality profiles.

The theory argues that satisfaction is highest and turnover lowest when personality and occupation are in agreement. Social individuals should be in social jobs, conventional people in conventional jobs, and so forth. A realistic person in a realistic job is in a more congruent situation than is a realistic person in an investigative job. A realistic person in a social job is in the most incongruent situation possible. The key points of this model are that (1) there do appear to be intrinsic differences in personality among individuals, (2) there are different types of jobs, and (3) people in job environments congruent with their personality types should be more satisfied and less likely to voluntarily resign than should people in incongruent jobs.

The Person-Organization Fit:

Attention in recent years has expanded to include matching people to organizations as well as jobs. To the degree that an organization faces a dynamic and changing environment and requires employees who are able to readily change tasks and move fluidly between teams, it’s probably more important that employees’ personalities fit with the overall organization’s culture than with the characteristics of any specific job.

The person-organization fit essentially argues that people leave organizations that are not compatible with their personalities. Using the Big-Five terminology, for instance, we could expect that people high on extroversion fit better with aggressive and team-oriented cultures; that people high on agreeableness will match up better with a supportive organizational climate than one that focuses on aggressiveness; and that people high on openness to experience fit better into organizations that emphasize innovation rather than standardization. Following these guidelines at the time of hiring should lead to selecting new employees who fit better with the organization’s culture, which, in turn, should result in higher employee satisfaction and reduced turnover.