Saturday, February 6, 2010

Self-concept as it pertains to business

In my time on this earth, I have experienced a wide spectrum of emotions and situations that coalesce to make me who I am. If I were to sum up, in one image, my self concept, it would be something like this:

(Image courtesy of


Yeah, I sure fancy myself a pretty awesome dude. However, as stated in the book, I don't even know this awesome guy that I totally am. Do any of us, though? In truth, we are made up of a smattering of things we don't really understand. There are things we barely remember that have a vast effect on who we become.

Sure, we all know WHO we are. We all have a name and face to distinguish ourselves from each other, but we have underlying memories, experiences, and other personal aspects of ourselves that are completely unique to us. Nobody else has the same combination of memories and feelings, which makes us all unique. Some people refuse to quit while others give up at the first sign of trouble. Some people love themselves while others absolutely detest themselves. Chapter 5 of the luminous tome Organizational Behavior by Kreitner and Kinicki sheds light on personality and the sense of self as it pertains to business.

Let's think about our own interactions in the workplace. Think of yourself in the workplace. Imagine you got a great job sitting in a cubicle doing data entry. Well, the odds of success in your newfound career will be slim indeed if you don't have a "proactive personality,". Proactive personality is defined in the book as, "(An) action-oriented person who shows initiative and perseveres to change things."

Now, it's obvious that the example I gave was purposely ludicrous. Nobody enjoys data entry. It's like getting paid to bounce your head off a telephone pole all day. If you don't have a proactive personality, you'd simply accept your awful fate and stay at a job that brings you closer and closer to homicidal rage with every passing keystroke... unless you're this guy:

(Image courtesy of

Of course, most companies don't want their employees to be miserable. Happy employees mean happy profits. But a big part of the mental state of the workforce is the mental state of the worker. As already stated, everyone has their own personality. People with quitter attitudes can hold back the whole company.

And now, a personal anecdote.

At one of my jobs (I won't say which one) we had an employee who's personality was just awful. Our dress code required a shirt and tie and to look professional, which didn't fit with the values of this person because he felt that he was too much of an individual to wear a tie, provide even baseline customer service, or contribute to the well-being of the company. He lacked "Organizational Identification," defined in the luminous tale of loss and redemption, Organizational Behavior, as when the values of the company start to become a part of your own value system. The story ends where this guy started showing up to work wearing inappropriate clothes and snorting Oxycontin off of his desk. Yes, I'm absolutely serious.

Needless to say, the deadbeat was fired. During the latter part of his employment, productivity had gone down because everyone was worried he'd snap and start tearing up the place looking for pharmaceuticals to ram up his nostrils. Here we had a perfect example of how the personality (or actions) of one worker can affect much more than just his own performance. Everyone can benefit from a great employee, but by the same token they can all suffer at the hands of a bad one. As soon as he left, the relief in the air was palpable, and productivity noticeably increased. This example is extreme, but it speaks volumes as to how the personality and behavior of one person can spread out and affect how other people in the organization focus on their work, or in this case, trying to avoid one potentially dangerous co-worker.

So, remember. If you're going to be part of a team (which is what working in an office entails), then it's important that your attitude and personality be consistent with the requirements for success in that organization. Different places have different values, and just about anyone out there can find a good fit for their own unique personality and goals. High self-esteem, a good attitude, and organizational identification will not only help you go further in your chosen job, but you'll probably have a better outlook on life, which will likely result in better overall health.


  1. Wow. I thourghly enjoyed reading your post. It is so true. It is hard to look at yourself and view your personality from another person's perspective and this can get in the way of 'positive' change or 'fitting in' with a team. It is important to be able to work with others, however it is also important to not come off as 'fake'. The book only talks about how employees need to learn to compromise and change, however people need to consider some things when they are looking for employment: 1. Will I be inspired by this job. 2. Will I feel comfortable in this workplace? If the answer for either of these is No, then no matter how much one gets paid, one looses in the end because their optimum performance level will be hindered or their job will cease to have meaning and purpose. In which case, they will not strive to improve and there will be a lack of motivation, which will also hurt the company.