Five Factors That Shape Your Personality And Why It Matters At Work

Our personalities are largely established at a very young age – we really just are who we are.

(2 minute read)

For most of us, interacting closely with other people and adapting to their personalities are unavoidable elements of work. This can be a challenge especially when they may not be people we would willingly choose to spend time with. So how do we navigate this?

The key then to strong and effective personal and professional relationships is a deep understanding of who we are. All our unique personalities are best understood by knowing where we sit on the ‘Big Five’ scale:

  • AGREEABLENESS — the tendency to be friendly, compassionate and cooperative
  • OPENNESS — the tendency to enjoy variety, novelty, challenge and intellectual stimulation
  • CONSCIENTIOUSNESS — the tendency to show self-discipline and self-control
  • EXTROVERSION — the tendency to be outgoing, energetic and sociable
  • EMOTIONALITY— the tendency to experience unpleasant emotions.

Your personality can be measured somewhere on the continuum for each of the Big Five.

But what exactly is personality? And why does it matter at work?

Personality describes a set of characteristics unique to an individual and that don’t tend to change greatly across a lifetime. Your personality is made up of specific patterns of thoughts, emotions and behaviour that determine your natural inclination to behave and respond in a particular way.

The lexical hypothesis approach used by psychologists is one of the most reliable and informative ways of accessing and measuring our personality characteristics.

The theory behind the lexical hypothesis approach is that the personal qualities most important and relevant to your life eventually become part of your language.  When you describe yourself or other people, you tend to focus on the most distinctive features. These features accurately describe every individual’s underlying personality traits, which all fall under one of the Big Five.

These five factors of personality have been found to be remarkably universal, with research indicating that they appear in a very similar incarnations in more than 50 different cultures.

So what does it all mean? It’s certainly interesting to consider personality and the differences between us, but personality assessments can also have important practical applications in the real world.

  • Personality profiling can be used at an individual level to help people understand more about their unique strengths, weaknesses and preferences. It is also critical to understand how individuals are likely to operate and perform in a workplace or team dynamic.
  • A business is always built on personalities and personalities make up its culture. The culture of a business is the number one ingredient in determining how well it achieves its goals.
  • Personality assessments are very useful to look at multiple individuals’ personalities in a collective way to see what drives their behaviours and predict how effectively they will work together.

Find our more about the Big Five here and here (sorry, we had to bring Donald into it someway).