Work habits are more about response to the work enviornment than personality traits. Do you agree? Support answer.Organisation structure and behaviour

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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This is an interesting question, and I tend to agree with the statement.  After some discussion of what is meant by "work habits,"  we can look at why this is likely to be a true statement, as well as a few arguments to the contrary.

The term "work habits" is a somewhat vague, so let's try to fill it in a little.  When I see that term, it evokes the soft skills that people engage in the workplace, for example, promptness, an ability to prioritize, efficiency, self-starting behavior, functionality in a team, and focus.  If those are the kinds of work habits meant in your inquiry, then the statement is supportable.

Work habits may or may not be a function of personality traits, but they are exhibited in behaviors.  When John Doe enters a workplace, if these behaviors are modeled and rewarded and there are consequences for not engaging in these behaviors, he is likely to engage in them as a response to the environment, no matter what personality traits he might have. For example, if promptness is valued and most of the people around him are prompt, Doe is going to be prompt (or gone.)  If all around him, people are focused and not chatting around the water cooler, Doe is probably going to respond to the culture of the work environment. Does it matter what his personality is? It is his behavior that is at issue.

If you think about all the people you know, with as many different personalities as a kaleidoscope has patterns, you can probably find examples of situations in which people find it easy or difficult to adapt to a particular kind of work culture, but if you focus on their behaviors in the workplace, as opposed to their thoughts and feelings--their attitudes--you are likely to find that what they do is responsive to the environments in which they find themselves.

Now, having said all of that, I suppose there are some situations in which a person with a particular personality might sway those around him into different kinds of behaviors.  Picture Tom Sawyer getting all those onlookers to whitewash the fence for him.  However, I think this is the exception rather than the rule in today's top-down corporate world.

Another factor that should be considered is the degree to which certain personalities are drawn to certain kinds of workplaces.  For example, there are workplaces in which creative efforts and results are valued more than promptness.  In those instances, the work habits exhibited could be said to be personality-driven, but this seems to me to be like the question, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

It also occurs to me that there is another aspect to this inquiry, that being the personality of the person in command.  From that perspective, certainly there is an argument that personality can create a work environment in which certain kinds of work behaviors might be reinforced or eliminated, but if we are inquiring into the behavior and personality of the worker, that is a different question entirely.

I have provided a link to an article that discusses this issue as it relates to doctors, but you will note that attitudes and work habits are discussed.  I do think it is important to distinguish between the two when trying to analyze.  Who we are and what we do might not be as connected as people believe.

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