Traits are defined as the actions, thoughts and feelings which distinguish individuals from each other. They are the internal characteristics of a person which correspond to the behavior of a person. Individual traits remain stable throughout the life span of a person. The adaptive processes of a person lead to changes in the characteristic behavior of the person. Different theories have been proposed to explain the personality traits. These theories include the human motivation theory and the whole person theory.
Personality researchers such as D.W Fiske (1949) and Goldberg (1981) proposed five broad categories of personality traits, which were referred, to as the big five traits of personality. The personality traits proposed include extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness.
Extraversion trait is demonstrated by the extent to which a person socializes with other individuals and how the individual expresses his emotions. Talkativeness of a person is also a vital characteristic which defines extraversion. Communication skills of an individual show the level of confidence. Extraversion traits provide workers with the skills to handle tasks effectively. An employee can be able to handle complex issues. Sharing of ideas in an organization helps to improve the performance of individuals. In the decision making process, employees express their opinions over the issue being addressed. Employees are resistant to change. Employees can use their extraversion skills to minimize the resistance to change.
Agreeableness includes attributes such as kindness, affection and trust in an individual. An individual who possesses agreeableness traits is good natured. This implies that the person can be trusted with the management of an organization. The traits help to regulate the actions of an individual. A person who is friendly and compassionate is able to relate well with other people. A good relationship is created by other people. This means that the person can be entrusted to handle challenging tasks. This acts as a motivation for the person. The individual, thus, improves performance in order to maintain the good public image.
Openness is characterized by being open minded, divergent thinking capabilities and being imaginative. Openness helps to improve the level of intellectual capability of a person. A person with a high degree of openness has a wide range of interests. An individual is curious to develop new ideas or improve the existing ideas. The trait can help in improving the individual performance through implementation of innovative methods of handling issues and tasks. An individual has the curiosity to undertake a particular task. Imagination and being open minded is crucial to the performance of a person. A person can devise superior methods of addressing and solving a particular problem without causing harm to others. Openness also helps an individual to make decisions without the influence of other people. The person is consistent and cautious in performing activities. The person can deviate from the normal routine of doing things in order to develop a more convenient method or way of performing the task than before. This helps to improve the performance of the individual. Openness traits can be used in the decision making process. Rational decisions are made which do not cause distortions in the organization.
Conscientiousness is the tendency of a person to apply self discipline and to act dutifully. An individual who possesses this trait aims to achieve better than the previous results. The person has a consistent set of behavior which is not spontaneous. In addition, the person is orderly and well organized. The person is self dependent. Self discipline plays an essential role in determining the behavior of a person. A person who lacks self discipline is considered to have immoral behavior. The behavior and discipline are related. A well disciplined person is assumed to have good behavior. Authority and responsibility are entrusted to a person who have self discipline, order and self dependable. The person can make autonomous decisions without the influence of internal or external parties. Self discipline enables an individual to handle conflicts in an organized manner.
Neuroticism is characterized by depression and a high degree of anxiety. A person has the tendency to become angry or upset and is prone to emotional instability. Irritability and sadness are common characteristics of neuroticism trait. A person with this kind of trait is likely to suffer from emotional stability. Neuroticism, however, can contribute positively towards the performance of a person. A person with a high degree of emotional stability tends to avoid situations and circumstances which may have a negative outcome. The person tends to avoid actions which may lead to frustrations thus positive results. A person may invest in projects which are not risky in order to minimize the probability of unfavorable outcomes, which may lead, to frustration and depression. The trait, thus, helps in making rational decisions, which yield positive, results. It is important for people with this type of trait to avoid instances which lead to a negative outcome. It is vital that the trait be identified early enough so that the particular person can be able to control his emotions, anger and sadness before they arise.