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The Human Side of Individual Differences

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  • Pages: 6
  • Word count: 1428
  • Category: Behavior

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The organization is composed of a number of individuals that work together towards a common goal. The individual members may share the same goals but they differ in a number of aspects, which makes them unique, and at the same time it also influences how the members behave in the organization. An individual is a unique human being and the concept of individual differences accounts for how each person is different from the other. A person’s personality is highly unique in the sense that it is a complex combination of different traits, attitudes and values, motivation, job satisfaction and perception.

Theories on personality have favored the concept of trait theories, wherein each person has a unique set of personality traits. In organization behavior, personality has been measured using personality inventories and has been used in recruitment and selection. The individual’s personality has been found to influence how the individual fits within the organization and their attitudes and values towards work. Attitude and perception refer to how the person evaluates and understands the external environment. How an individual perceives an event or a task will also influence his/her attitudes towards it. Motivation and values are concepts that have been accounted for what drives the individual to perform or to work in the organization. Values are the objects and events that the person finds important and would therefore work towards fulfilling that need and what they value. Job satisfaction is the sense of fulfillment that a person feels within the performance of his/her job.


Effective managers can use their knowledge of group structure and group development to handle many problem involving work teams, work units and other groups. Managers should be aware that every group has an authority and influence structure, a role structure, a status structure, a subgroups structure and a communications pattern. Integroup conflict is inevitable, when groups must interact over a period of time, occasions are certain to arise in which the interests or behavior of one group will frustrate those of the other. Consequently, the manager must learn to diagnose the source and effects of intergroup conflicts and must be capable of resolving conflicts.

Intergroup conflict can be resolved by negotiation, which is an approach in which representatives of warring groups meet for a “give and take” exchange. Each representative attempts to gain as much from the other group as possible and to make as few concessions as possible. A compromise is arrived at when the gains balance with the losses for each group. Since neither group is fully satisfied in this approach, conflicts usually occur again between the groups.

Negotiation can also be applied to conflict between management and the labor union within the organization. It had been used to deliver the points and arguments of each group and probably arrived at a decision that would be most beneficial to each group. However, it is important to consider that negotiation is more effective if the two warring groups want to resolve their differences and conflict. Negotiation often is geared towards the resolution of the issue and conflict but it is not surprising that some negotiation may fail and that conflicts may arise again.

Culture and Diversity: The Social Side of Individual Differences

With globalization and the increasing cultural diversity in organizations and companies, it is also a reality that aside from individual differences, the issue of culture and ethnic diversity is also present. The world is getting smaller especially with the development in technology that makes it possible for individuals and organizations to work together even in different continents. Culture according to Hofstede is placed on two poles, the individualist and the collectivist. in the outset, Asian countries usually have collectivist culture Americans have individualist cultures. Thus, a person’s cultural orientation influences his/her behavior and how he/she performs tasks. A person who has an individualist culture would not be able to work well in groups and is expected to work for his/her own goals before that of other people such that he/she would likely work for individual achievement, rewards and personal fulfillment.

Moreover, the individualist would be motivated to perform well that would give him/her the opportunity to satisfy his/her personal needs. On the other hand, an individual from a collectivist culture would find the relationships in the workplace as important determinants of his/her happiness in the organization. This person’s work ethic would be geared towards providing for his/her family, such that work performance is made more meaningful if it enables them to contribute to the welfare of their families. Stereotypes and prejudice against other cultures have also abounded in the face of globalization and increasing diversity in the workplace. It has been the source of conflict for many employees and claims about discrimination and prejudice against them have been documented. Other organizations have not been quick to adapt to the fact that the work place is becoming culturally diverse and they have failed to harness the positive advantages that a culturally diverse work force can bring to the organization.

Decision Making

The process of decision-making can be viewed from a broad model perspective but varies according to the nature of the problem and the environment involved. The decision-making process used by managers is generally outlined as following a circular flow from problem recognition to problem definition and diagnosis, to finding alternatives, to selection of a solution, to implementation and evaluation and finally to feedback through the environment. What the manager actually does at each stage of the process is not so easily specified. Perhaps this is best illustrated at the search-and-evaluation-of-alternatives stage. Routine simple problems involve rather different cognitive behavior than do nonroutine, complex problems. The Rational Man model often describes the type of managerial behavior involved in finding alternatives for routine and simple problems.

The behavior involved in routine problems of both simple and complex types is often characterized by the Administrative Man view. Nonroutine problems often utilize behaviors of the creative/self-actualizing man model. Creative, effective decision-making has sometimes been facilitated by one of the approaches that have been structured to facilitate group decision-making. Brainstorming is an approach that attempts to unbind the inhibiting effect of our evaluating alternatives as they are presented. Brainstorming involves throwing out ideas while holding evaluation to a later time. Synectics involve the application of analogies and metaphors to initiating and sustaining the creative process. The Delphi technique brings the ideas of physically separated group members to bear. Alternatives are anonymously presented and evaluated. The nominal group technique is an effective approach that uses group interaction in decision making in none threatening way. The heuristic technique uses the computer to simulate trial-and-error decision each of these structured approaches has been sued effectively when appropriately applied.

Affect: Emotions and Mood

Affect refers to the range of emotions that a person may feel at any given time or day. Emotions have been defined to identify an intense feeling of emotion that a person may feel for a certain event or object while moods are feelings that are lesser in intensity and influences the person disposition in a daily basis. Emotions and moods are differentiated in the intensity and strength of the feeling and it’s stimulant and how it affects the functioning of the individual. Emotions and moods may be affected by the individual’s personality, day and time of week, stress, social activities, sleep, exercise, age and gender.

Gender differences in one’s emotions and moods have been well documented by research, women are generally more able to express emotions, display emotions more frequently and intensely and are more able to read and empathize with other people. On the other hand, men see emotional expression as a sign of weakness, have difficulty expressing their emotions and have less need for social approval and the need to express emotions.

Members of an organization usually engage in emotional labor wherein the employee expresses organizationally desired emotions during one’s interaction with other people. Affective events theory says that emotions are negative and positive response to one’s work environment. Therefore, an individual’s emotion and mood cycles will reflect his/her work environment and the people that he/she works with.

A recent development in the field of emotion and organizational behavior had been the concept of emotional intelligence, which is said to be the most important predictor of employee success and performance. Emotional intelligence is composed of self-awareness, self-management, self-motivation and empathy.


Robbins, S. & Judge, T. (2007). Organizational Behavior 12th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall

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