Personality does matter in the work environment, especially in high risk occupations (e.g. in aviation industry, nuclear power industry, medical, fire, police department etc.).
Just considered how quick we are to judge our co-workers or superiors, how many times you thought for yourself that someone is acting out of his character.
Personality has an impact on what situations we choose to engage in, also how motivated we will be to focus on it (the so called performance-oriented motivation). The personality at work is linked to a number of significant behaviours that can’t be predicted by General Mental Ability (GMA), knowledge or even the situation. Personality traits effects workers willingness to follow rules, regulations and procedures, which has a direct impact on safety related behaviour and this is not industry specific.
Safety in High Risk Industries (HRI) is paramount and the key in eliminating work place accidents. We have invested a great deal of time and effort to increase productivity and decrease the human strain, we have learned a lot about accidents and incidents and yet globally there is still billions of dollars spent on compensation payments related to accident and injuries at work.
What makes a safe worker?
In terms of safety, if you want to reduce risk-taking behaviour within your organisation, one key approach will be to address the issue in selection, e.g. the personality trait of ‘self-assured fearless thrill seeker’ has been identified as major contributor to safety related issues. This however has to be considered in the larger context, not in a vacuum. Personality traits are instrumental in predicting the workers future performance and likely behaviour. However our awareness about personality can be used in numerous ways, the key point is that nobody should be penalized for having certain traits and predispositions, we need to stress that we do not want to put a limit on our capacity to develop. One can thrive even in situations that are initially uncomfortable; we learn and adapt, but there are personality tendencies that indicate when we are more likely to give in and this should be addressed within the selection and/or in training, especially where safety has a direct impact on wellbeing of the individual and in larger context of the complex environment.
One of these tendencies to be considered is “how conformant is the person”, this will have an impact on the likelihood of following standard operating procedures (SOP). Further, “how confident v anxious is the person,” thus effecting the ability to handle stressful situations (e.g. ATC controller under emergency situation), all these will affect the trainability of the individual worker and need to be considered in a holistic approach to safety management and in building a resilient organisation.
Dedicated Personality Profile
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