Rude, backstabbing, conniving, arrogant, are all perfect personality traits for working in banking in London.

This was a comment made by an individual responding to an article about the ideal personality at work required in investment banking in London. The article itself, set out what it believed to be the personality at work traits required for investment bankers after the financial crash of 2008.  The comments are a bit harsh on investment bankers who I’m sure really are nice people, although I’m sure Max Keiser of the Keiser Report would not necessarily agree.

Personality at Work

However, this does raise the question, ‘Are there personality traits that can maximise job performance?’   Let’s look at one of the best-known overviews of personality traits, commonly referred to as the “big five” personality factors.  It is often referred by the mnemonic, OCEAN which stands for:

Openness – people high on this dimension are more likely to be intellectually curious and show independence of judgement.

Conscientiousness – people high on this dimension are more likely to be determined, a perfectionist and someone who will stick to completing the task.

Extraversion – people with a high extraversion score tend to be more talkative, assertive, and sociable people.

Agreeableness – people with a high score tend to think about others first, and are often sympathetic and eager to assist people.

Neuroticism – people with a low score are likely to be emotionally stable, calm, even-tempered, and able to face stressful situations (often termed as high emotional stability).

So, what type of personality at work is likely to be more successful? Much research identifies ‘Conscientiousness’ as being one of the most predictive traits of future job performance. However, one has to be careful in that whilst it might be a good characteristic it can often be a disadvantage, e.g. if the job requires constant change.

Let us further consider the personality of a ‘safe’ bus driver.  Research indicates that those with the lowest accident rates tend to be low on extraversion, i.e. ‘quiet and less sociable people’ with a high emotional stability, ‘Low Neuroticism’.

If we widen the debate of personality at work and safety at work, research also indicates that those low on ‘Agreeableness’ (i.e. those individuals who are competitive as opposed to being co-operative) is a predictor of involvement in work accidents.

With most work environments requiring us to work in teams, then not only is an individual’s personality important but also having a wide range of personality traits within the team is equally important so that the organisation can succeed in ever demanding work environments.

In summary therefore it is always essential to understand the requirements of the job and then to map what personality factors are important for success in the job role.  What we also know is that high emotional stability i.e. ‘Low Neuroticism’, ‘Extraversion’ and ‘Openness’, also contributes to satisfaction in our career.

For specialised information on the use of personality profiling for job success or career development, contact us or read more at our website on psychometrics.