Tag Archives: Conscientiousness

Perseverance Negatively Correlated with Counterproductive Work Behaviours

New research shows that perseverance might be a key character strength when it comes to counterproductive work behaviours. The researchers were interested in finding the character strengths that were most correlated with work performance and counterproductive work behaviours (things like absenteeism, lateness, incivility, etc.). As the title of this post suggests, the researchers found that perseverance is the character strength that is most negatively correlated with counterproductive work behaviours. Meaning, when a person is found to have a lot of perseverance, they’re also found to have a lower level of counterproductive work behaviours.

In thinking about these findings, the thing I most wonder about is when we draw out perseverance to an unhealthy form. That is, of course, it’s great when employees are driven and they persevere, but what happens when they “go over the edge” in their pursuits? I suspect that as we get employees who persevere to these great lengths, it should no longer be thought of as a character strength. And similarly, the negative correlation with counterproductive work behaviours might not hold. In fact, I’d expect that we’d then see a positive correlation with counterproductive work behaviours. Meaning, when the perseverance becomes pathological, I’d expect the employee to exhibit some counterproductive work behaviours. Of course, this is all speculation, so it’d be interesting to see someone test for this in future iterations of this research.

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The researchers of this study also tied in studies on the Big 5, specifically as it relates to conscientiousness. It seems pretty well-known that conscientiousness is the characteristic of the Big 5 that is mostly closely correlated with work success and so the researchers of this study made mention of the fact that perseverance is shown to be highly correlated with conscientiousness. If we draw this out a little, the implication is that employees who demonstrate perseverance as one of their character strengths should also show signs of higher work performance (through their expected Big 5 personality trait of conscientiousness).

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I suspect that research like this will give folks in HR something else to look for when recruiting new employees. There was already information out there about conscientiousness, but now they can also look for candidates who demonstrate a higher degree of perseverance. Maybe when contacting their references, the recruiter can ask about whether the candidate has demonstrated (or how the candidate has demonstrated) perseverance in their work.

ResearchBlogging.orgLittman-Ovadia, H., & Lavy, S. (2015). Going the Extra Mile: Perseverance as a Key Character Strength at Work Journal of Career Assessment DOI: 10.1177/1069072715580322

Conscientiousness in the Classroom, Conscientiousness in Completion

I teach organizational behavior (OB) at the undergraduate level. Well, to be more specific, I’m a TA for OB at the undergraduate level, but because of the structure of the class, students rarely see the professor for the class and spend most of their time interacting with me as the person at the front of the classroom.

This past week we talked about individual differences — personality. Naturally, we spoke about the Big 5. In reviewing the dimensions of personality we read through some scenarios together and had to identify which personality dimension was implicated. In one of those scenarios, we read about someone faced with a dilemma:

It’s Friday and her friends have invited her out to a concert and she also has plans for Saturday/Sunday. However, she has assignments that are due on Monday.

For folks that know about the Big 5, this example is clearly implicating the Conscientiousness dimension of the Big 5. Why am I telling you all of this? Well, because this happened to me this weekend. It’s not completely surprising that this would happen to me because I usually score very high on conscientiousness, but I thought it was rather coincidental that it happened the same week that we were discussing this concept in class.

Both of the classes I have this semester occur on Monday (afternoon and evening). For both of these classes, I’ve got quite a bit of reading to do, which is okay, but since these classes are outside my field of expertise, some of the reading takes longer (as I have to look up words — from time-to-time — to contextualize my understanding).

If I think back to my days an undergrad, I’d often find myself reading on Sunday night/evening, to make sure I was prepared for class on Monday morning. This weekend, something different happened: I spent most of the day Friday and most of the day Saturday working — really hard. As a result, when I sat down to dinner on Saturday evening, I felt relaxed because I knew I had very little work to complete on Sunday. This feeling… is wonderful.