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Importance Of Individual Differences In Understanding Behaviour

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 2658 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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With globalisation becoming increasingly important, the corporate world is attracting a more diverse workforce and hence an increase in individual differences. An organisation is made up of people and individual differences are a key aspect in any organisation as each and every person brings along their own personal and unique differences. “Much of psychology involves finding rules that describe how people behave in general.” (Cooper, 2002) Understanding and triggering the best out of the individual differences is crucial for organisations to keep a competitive edge in today’s fierce business environment. However managing individual differences is a complex issue as it relates to a number of human factors such as differences in attitudes, values, perceptions of the situation and self. There are diverse roles and research to support the findings of individual differences. However, for the purpose of this assignment I shall focus on how people respond differently to particular motivation interventions. Secondly this essay will also aim at examining individual differences in regards to how motivation affects performance.

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Studies have shown that motivation is a key influencer in job performance for individuals within their organisation. According to Stevens (2005) motivation is central to most human activities because it governs the choice of behaviour and attitudes. Motivation at work is complex because it relates to a number of interrelated human factors and organisational factors such as individual difference in work competence and organisational procedures, reward systems and communication framework. The higher motivation one has for the job, the more probable they will be to put more effort and work more efficiently. There are various ways that organisations adopt when ensuring that their employees are constantly motivated in their job. A decrease in motivation not only affects the employee and their productivity but the organisation as a whole, as the products will not be produced to the highest quality possible. The various ways that certain methods can be implemented in organisations to increase the motivation are; increase in wages, bonuses, increase in holidays, days out, etc. However with reference to Taylor’s theory of motivation, “Taylor claimed that money was what the worker wanted most” (Locke, 1982). This cannot be proven to be a completely correct, with the research and evidence from individual differences, this contradicts what Taylor claims. Each individual has their own preferences and therefore not will be motivated in different ways Motivation enables one to have a different outlook on their performance of any sort, they will feel a different emotion when completing a task.

A number of theories have been proposed to explain the impact of motivation on attitudes towards work and job performance. Reinforcement theory demonstrates that any behaviour that is rewarded would be repeated. This is known as positive reinforcement. An example of this in the workplace could be any monetary or non monetary reward, praise, approval, promotion or access to decision making process. However, it is necessary to consider the balance of the value of rewards to avoid potentially risky behaviour. For example, an individual will be motivated to achieve the greatest reward thus deliberate omission of complying with risk management practices. According to Skinner (1938) managers giving praise to others for working to minimise risk act as a strong motivator to comply with risk management practice and encourage involvement and responsibility. Moreover Social Learning theory contends that an individual are motivated not only by reward and punishment but by observing others receiving rewards and punishment. Individuals are motivated to imitate the behaviour of others if they observe they are being rewarded for their behaviour. Hence, managers can lead by example to gear the individual differences into the desired behaviour. However, given that each and every individual is unique, the managers must ensure not to promote discrimination while leading through example. Goal theory shows that people are money through reward systems and involvement in goal setting. Locke (1968) argues that employees are motivated to achieve specifically stated goals which are perceived as personally achievable. Hence understanding the individual differences is vital to help the organisation set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART) goals to create a ‘win-win’ situation.

There are diverse motivation methods in which today’s organisations use. There is a growing concern that more and more employees tend to increase the number of turnover within a company thus In order to keep the turnover low, managers need to find new innovative ways to keep individuals within the organisation motivated. “The reality is that we can only hypothesise that people are motivated by some particular thing by looking at their behaviour and seeing if there is anything different when the particular ‘thing’ is involved.” (Weightman, 1999). This theory helps to reinforce the fact that understanding motivation of individuals is key in a work environment, this can help determine and predict an individual’s performance within the job role.

2. “In the war for talent, managers have to keep an even closer eye on staff morale and motivation.” (Personnel Today, January 2001) Individual differences are seen all around; in the way each of us reacts to certain situations is a perfect example of differences. There are many diverse ways in which personality can be measured at work. Conversely to measure one’s personality can be hard to define. The Big Five Model is a well known technique which explains how different personality traits link together. The Big Five Model has five diverse stages which help to identify the personalities of people, these are; Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, and Openness/ Intellect.

Extraversion- this goes more into depth about how comfortable one feels around others, and also takes into consideration how sociable and outgoing a person is versus a quiet and reserved person. The more a person is sociable and outgoing, and a person who seeks out status, the more extrovert we say a person is.

Agreeableness- This measures the extent to which a person is warm and trusting and open to others, versus someone who is less open and unfriendly. This can also show how a quickly a person can adapt being put in diverse situations and how friendly and welcoming they are to meeting new people.

Conscientiousness- This shows the extent to how a person is organised and dependable, versus a person who is unorganised and impulsive. This will show how a person thinks and their feeling towards how they carry out certain tasks.

Emotional Stability- This shows the extent of how a person is calm and stable versus a person who is more neurotic and nervous. When placed in certain situations we all experience various feelings and this can help show one’s first instinct and how they adapt when placed in certain situations.

Openness/ Intellect- This shows the extent to which a person is imaginative and innovative with regards to their ideas and openness to new and diverse experiences versus a narrow-minded and unimaginative individual.

To fully understand the various personalities of individuals we need to know and understand all of the five different factors within the big five model. Only then will we be able to understand which category one fits into and thus can determine the way in which they are likely to react when placed in certain situations. “Creating ‘a great place to work’ meant developing an environment where self-motivation could take root and flourish.” (Personnel Today, January 2001) When it comes to motivation within people’s careers or jobs, then employees do not want to feel that they need many incentives of motivation in order to be productive, self-motivation from within can also generate high efficiency from an individual and higher overall productivity. The pleasure of being to complete something and wanting to do well and succeed is a perfect example of self-motivation. The want or need to complete something successfully from start to finish and obtain a feeling of satisfaction, is a perfect example of self-motivation at its best.


Reflective Report-From a personality report created from questionnaires which I filled out with regards to my personality. There were several questions which responded to thirteen different categories of characteristics these are; Sociability, Leadership, Optimism, Cooperation, Compassion, Sensitivity, Stability, Calmness, Order, Industry, Intellect, Culture, and Achievement. Each of these characteristics helps determine an individual’s personal traits and behaviour. Both I and a peer completed the questionnaire which would help to outline individual differences in action, and show whether the way I perceive myself would be the same as the way in which my peer perceived my characteristics to be.

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The results in some cases show that the way in which I have seen myself, can in many cases be completely different or sometimes similar to the way in which others perceive myself. Relevant research helps to support the individual differences theory and helps one to understand how they are perceived by others and the difference in how a person might perceive them to be. Whether introvert or extrovert, all of these traits and personalities are what makes us different, and the way in which we see ourselves on a day-to-day basis can be seen completely different by someone who sees us on a day-to-day basis. Another example of how personality theories have supported certain situations that I have been placed under is doing group assignments at University. I was placed within a group of individuals that I had never previously met. After a few weeks of starting to understand one another, we all felt that we had similar qualities and personalities. Conversely weeks gone by, I started to notice that people that I originally thought had the same personality in some certain aspects to myself, turned out to be completely different. For example, everyone in the first instance was very agreeable, which in most cases is always true, because we were all aware that this was group work and we had to work together in order for this to be completed. However after meeting often with the group, I noticed people were a lot more extroverts with their feelings, and were not afraid to let their feelings be shown, even if this was negative. In addition to this after several meetings after people who I perceived to be like-minded would be completely opposite to what I thought earlier for example; they would turn up to meetings late or not at all, whereas I am a punctual person and thought they were too from initial meetings, they were very laid-back in approach to their work, and took their time whereas in the beginning showed enthusiasm in wanting to get the work complete. In addition to this, from my personality report, it has been proven that the way in which I perceive myself to be a much organised, conscientious type of person, my traits have been perceived by others to be the same, and that others agree to an extent that I am a very conscientious person. Within the group, there were many who at first gave the impression of being very conscientious however as time went on, I found that they were quite the opposite and more impulsive. Working in a group with such diverse and in most cases opposite personalities to my own was at first daunting and quite a difficult task to ensure each person can remain motivated and get the work completed, however being able to adapt to situations proved to be a strong trait of mine, enabling me to get my message across to all people, in a positive way. Another previous experience of mine showed that I perceive myself to be a good leader in one way or another in being able to apply my thoughts across to my peers and when dealing with group work, I am an organised person which helps in being a good leader. From the feedback of the personality report, a friend perceived me in the same way, and thought likewise, as well as this, being in a group with students whom I had never previously met, after receiving a high result in the work, feedback came unknowingly from peers claiming they were glad I was the leader and I made “an excellent leader…all credit goes to you”. Which helps to show evidence that in some cases we can see ourselves and know most of what our personality is like and what others may also perceive however in many cases many people can get the ‘wrong message’ about one another.

The reflective report helps to support my theory of personality traits within a working environment. My experiences within working at university in group assignments and the peer profile helps to show that personality is key when understanding individuals. Personality helps to determine the outcome of an individual and what is expected of them.

Recommendation- There are diverse ways in which work processes can be improved in the future, an example of this is; for managers to schedule regular one-to-one basis meetings, where employees will be able to express their concerns if they have any. On one hand, some employees prefer interaction and want to feel like they have a ‘voice’ within the company. If a manager is able to effectively understand the employee’s needs and provide new innovative ways of implementing new systems so that can help employees to feel more motivated, they will thus achieve a better response of motivation. There are individuals who differ, which shows a clear demonstration of individual differences. Thus, some individuals will prefer to have clear guidance and a supervisor or manger to conduct regular meetings, however some may not prefer this technique. Therefore, it is the duty of the manager to get the balance right and ensure that they are able to respond to employees wants and needs. As mentioned above, there are various techniques of motivation interventions which can all contribute to the overall performance of an individual. By implementing these motivation factors and putting them into practice in a working environment such as; doing a group project at work, using different techniques which can be creative and not tedious can increase motivation, productivity and the overall efficiency. The downfall of having so many motivation interventions is that due to individual differences within a group, it may be difficult to know which method is the best to pursue. This can have an adverse and opposite effect leaving some members feeling rather de-motivated and generally un-interested, which creates a further problem of trying to re-motivate and create responsiveness in the group.

Give advantages and disadvantages to the recommendation when being introduced in an organisation.


Fincham R, Rhodes P, (2005) Principles of Organizational Behaviour, New York: Oxford University press Inc.

Furnham, A. (1992) Personality at Work: The role of individual differences in the workplace. London: Routledge

Mazerolle, D, M. & James, R, L. (2002) Personality in Work Organizations, London: Sage Publications Inc.

Schermerhorn R. J. Jr, Hunt. G. J, Osborn. N. R (1991) Managing Organizational Behaviour, Ohio University: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


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