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When Personality Traits Match Job, Employees Succeed

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Bosses may want to take some more time finding out what drives their employees. New research suggests that matching the motivations and personality traits of workers with their job duties plays a big role in the success of not only those employees, but their companies as well.

Murray Barrick, a professor of management at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School, who co-authored the study along with Ning Li, a graduate student at Texas A&M, and Michael Mount a professor at the University of Iowa, came to this conclusion by looking at the factors that influence employee happiness.

"Once managers know what is motivating employees, they can focus on redesigning work in a way that is more efficient," Barrick said. "What our data shows is that the integration of the two leads to enhanced prediction and understanding of how work motivates people. What this theory recognizes is that to optimally motivate people at work, we must first understand what motivational strivings are driving the person’s behavior."

[Simple Ways to Keep Your Workers Happy]

Understanding those motivations can present a big challenge, though, especially since a number of factors can influence worker happiness. Despite that challenge, bosses who take the time to understand the motivations of their workers can experience greater worker satisfaction and retention.  

For example, giving workers interested in autonomy the ability to make their own decisions or placing workers motivated by working in a team environment will keep those workers happier than simply placing them in a generic position. 

"We measured employee engagement − how passionate employees are about the work, how absorbed they get at work, and how energetic and enthusiastic they are to do the work," Barrick said. "Higher engagement leads to higher performance and greater retention. Once you realize employees’ goals, give them tasks that go along with their characteristics. When you give people tasks they want to do, they will perform better."

The study, "The Theory of Purposeful Work Behavior: The Role of Personality, Job Characteristics And Experienced Meaningfulness," is set to be published this year by the Academy of Management Review.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.