Personality, Behaviours and Performance at Work

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The relationship between the personality and intelligence of a person and their effectiveness and success in work is not a fully studied topic. Changes occurring in modern society continuously require a person to be able to find their place in a changing social situation. Nevertheless, the intellectual and personal potential of an employee is the most important basis for their progressive development. Intellectual abilities largely mediate the success of human activities; the rationality of behaviour and the relationship of an employee with their co-workers also depends on them. The objective of every successful business is to create and maintain a high-performance culture that gives employees the full capacity to fulfil their potential. On the one hand, such culture should be fuelled with skill development and continuous learning as overarching characteristics where high productivity and performance are viewed as key outcomes of the nurturing work environment. On the other hand, high employee performance depends on the worker’s inborn traits, such as intelligence quotient (IQ), emotional quotient (EQ), and personality (Pekaar, van der Linden, Bakker, & Born, 2017). The purpose of this paper is to analyse the role of emotional intelligence and personal qualities in determining individual behaviours and performance at work.

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Theoretical Background

As applied to the academic context, the concept of intellectual abilities of a person may be regarded as a complex synthetic formation, which includes the individual’s personality traits. They are a prerequisite of the success in any specific activity. Researchers identify both verbal and non-verbal abilities in the structure of intellectual capabilities, which are classified by the degree of manifestation of combinatorial and procedural properties (Toppazzini & Wiener, 2017). Combinatorial properties characterise the individual’s ability to combine elements of a problematic situation and their own knowledge in various combinations (the ability to establish relationships and patterns). Procedural properties characterise the employee’s ability to recognise, reconstruct, or restructure the problematic situation (ability to analyse, synthesise, generalise, abstract). In order for a person to be successful in work, they need to use both verbal and non-verbal intellectual abilities skilfully.

IQ, a common measure of an individual’s intelligence; it assesses one’s capability to learn, apply, and synthesise new information. As noted by Huang, Yuan, and Li (2019), to function in life and complete work duties effectively, people need to have a certain minimum level of intelligence. Historically, IQ was perceived as a strong predictive indicator of performance, both in academic studies and at the workplace (Huang et al., 2019). One of the explanations for the positive correlation between IQ and job performance is the prevailing belief that IQ enables job performance through continuous on-the-job learning. In particular, high IQ scores are frequently used to predict job performance because general cognitive ability estimates how well an employee is capable of learning job-relevant knowledge.

According to Sylva, Mol, Hartog, and Dorenbosch (2019), in the early 2000s, companies shifted their focus from IQ to other measures. Evaluation of the cognitive abilities excludes the significance of the employee’s soft skills, such as interpersonal communication, empathy, understanding, and responding to the needs of colleagues in the team which often become key criteria of the organisation’s success (Sylva et al., 2019). The aforementioned limitations of IQ opened the way for a discussion about other types of intelligence which further led to the introduction of EQ, also known as emotional quotient.

A personality is a system of socially significant qualities of an individual, a measure of their mastery of social values and their ability to apply these values to the work environment (Toppazzini & Wiener, 2017). It is important that the concept of personality is directly related to the concept of individuality since this is a refraction of general social qualities in an individual along with the individual system of relations to the world together with one’s individual abilities of social interaction. Personality is characterised by an individual’s level of development and the correlation of their consciousness with social consciousness, which is particularly important for work-related interactions.

Emotional intelligence, measured through EQ, is defined as an individual’s ability to distinguish, label, and manage one’s emotions while responding to the emotions of others. High EQ allows employees to navigate and deal with complex personalities at a workplace while demonstrating empathy, active listening, and being an effective team player. According to Azizl, Mahadi, and Baskaran (2017), there is a strong positive correlation between high employee performance and high EQ. The research indicates that emotional intelligence constitutes up to 58% of success at work, outweighing technical hard skills (Makkar & Basu, 2019). The reason why contemporary organisations often choose applicants with a high EQ over a high IQ is that intelligence about the motivations and emotions of other people is a significant success factor at the workplace.

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Behaviours and Performance at Work

As applied to practice, high intelligence quotient and emotional quotient are not the only characteristics that enhance employee’s high performance, as an individual’s personality also impacts one’s behaviour and career success. Despite the heated debate on many theories of the personality psychology, most of the scholars came to a conclusion that major traits comprising workers’ personalities do have an influence on their job performance (Nuckcheddy, 2018). For example, the level of extroversion and introversion, varying communication styles, the extent of neuroticism, and conscientiousness affect employee’s work behaviour as well.

As supported by Nuckcheddy (2018), up to 37% of alternations in job performance are linked to extroversion/introversion personality traits. While personality qualities do not directly define people’s behavioural patterns, they certainly affect job performance and the way employees approach work (McCormick, Gray, Colbert, & Stewart, 2018). For instance, when challenged with a public speech at work, a person with high extroversion and low neuroticism will have a higher potential of success than one with low extroversion and high neuroticism. The reason behind this is that an employee with an introverted personality naturally feels less comfortable being in the centre of attention, withdrawing from the audience.

Recognising combinations of different personality characteristics is essential when it comes to hiring. According to McCormick et al. (2018), extroverted people work best in positions where they have to interact with other individuals, demonstrating high performance in customer service. Introverted employees, on the contrary, enjoy jobs that do not require interaction with other staff members, such as an IT professional (McCormick et al., 2018). Apart from the extroversion and introversion, another critical factor which influences the relationship between personality and performance is employee work ethic (Nuckcheddy, 2018). People with a strong work ethic who make their jobs the first priority should be assigned to roles with additional responsibility where an employee is required to make instant decisions and show initiative (Nuckcheddy, 2018). Weak work ethic, however, requires more management; therefore, such employees need to be closely supervised to avoid poor performance.

Employees also naturally differ with regards to attention to detail. Some individuals perceive the problem through the big picture, making creative, broad plans, and thinking of new global initiatives (Nuckcheddy, 2018). As opposed to them, detail-oriented people execute a task to the smallest details, being highly organised and meticulous. Finally, it is important to consider differences between perceptions of motivation and recognition (McCormick et al., 2018). Those who are intrinsically motivated are more likely to meet deadlines and show high satisfaction with the job, whereas employees with external motivation or need for recognition would seek money and praise as their major driving factors.

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Despite the fact that many researchers emphasise the relevance of the hypothesis of a direct relationship between the level of intelligence and the achievements of a person at work, observations show that it is impossible to establish an exact relationship between the positive or negative influence of intelligence on work activities. This is due to the fact that there are many aspects of intelligence, and everybody is different. According to Sharma and Mahajan (2017), employees with strong EQ persistently demonstrate maximised potential and enhanced morale, knowing how to understand and influence the emotions of other people. Accordingly, employers should not rely on a person’s intelligence level but on their personality and level of desire for knowledge and development.


Thus, it can be concluded that intelligence and personality may have an impact on the behaviour of people at work. Each person has their individual characteristics, which, in their turn, contribute to the process of determining individual’s reactions and attitudes to different situations and environment. High IQ scores frequently serve as a predictor of high job performance since employees with advanced general cognitive abilities are more likely to gain job-relevant knowledge more quickly. Nevertheless, many organisations concluded that high general IQ does not guarantee the success of the worker at the company because of the testing’s failure to check interpersonal skills of the applicant.

Unlike IQ, EQ assesses emotional intelligence of the individual, predicting their ability to work, both independently and in the team. Employees with developed emotional intelligence are self-aware, motivated, emotionally resilient, and conscientious. Different personality traits also have an impact on one’s individual behaviour and performance. Introversion or extroversion, attention to detail, work ethics, and motivation are the characteristics that determine the employee’s image. For that reason, it should be stated that companies should give greater attention to the responses of people to different situations and environments rather than to their overall intelligence level or specific personality characteristics.


Azizl, F., Mahadi, N., & Baskaran, S. (2017). Fostering employee pro-environmental behavior: Does emotional intelligence matters? International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 7(10), 567-575. Web.

Huang, W., Yuan, C., & Li, M. (2019). Person-job fit and innovation behavior: Roles of job involvement and career commitment. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1-10. Web.

Makkar, S., & Basu, S. (2019). The impact of emotional intelligence on workplace behaviour: A study of bank employees. Global Business Review, 20(2), 458-478. Web.

McCormick, B. W., Gray, R. P., Colbert, A. E., & Stewart, G. L. (2018). Proactive personality and proactive behavior: Perspectives on person-situation interactions. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 92(1), 30-51. Web.

Nuckcheddy, A. (2018). The effect of personality on motivation and organizational behavior. Psychology and Behavioral Science, 9(2), 1-5. Web.

Pekaar, K. A., van der Linden, D., Bakker, A. B., & Born, M. P. (2017). Emotional intelligence and job performance: The role of enactment and focus on others’ emotions. Human Performance, 30(2-3), 135-153. Web.

Sharma, K., & Mahajan, P. (2017). Relationship between emotional intelligence and organizational citizenship behavior among bank employees. Pacific Business Review International, 9(11), 20-29. Web.

Sylva, H., Mol, S. T., Hartog, D. N. D., Dorenbosch, L. (2019). Person-job fit and proactive career behavior: A dynamic approach. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 28(5), 631-645. Web.

Toppazzini, M., A., & Wiener, K. K. K. (2017). Making workplaces safer: The influence of organisational climate and individual differences on safety behavior. Heliyon, 3(6), 1-16. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Personality, Behaviours and Performance at Work." January 14, 2022.

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PsychologyWriting. "Personality, Behaviours and Performance at Work." January 14, 2022.