Personality - As a Key Concept in Human Resource Development (HRD)

Personality and personality development are one of the key concepts in HRD. By personality, we mean the traits and characteristics that make up an individual’s psyche and determine how he or she interacts with their environment.

Personality is determined by a number of factors including the traits that one is endowed with as a result of genetic factors and characteristics that have been developed due to his or her interactions with the environment. This is the variation of the so-called nature vs. nurture debate that revolves around whether an individual’s personality is determined because of genes or whether the personality is a product of the environment. Without going into the specifics of the debate, it would suffice to say here that personality is a product of both characteristics that have been acquired as well as some natural abilities. The point here is that all of us are good at something and hence it is up to each one of us to select the profession or calling that suits us best.

Continuing in the same vein, some individuals have higher IQ levels whereas others have higher EQ levels (IQ refers to Intelligence Quotient and EQ refers to Emotional Intelligence Quotient). Further, we usually fare well at some tasks and not that well at other tasks. Hence, the aspect that should determine which profession or role in an organization suits us should be done according to our determination of which role suits us better.

The HRD function has a crucial role to play in matching individuals traits with job roles and determining whether an individual’s personality attributes measure up to the requirements of the job that he or she is expected to do. This is the aspect of the skills and job description matrix where at the time of hiring, the HRD function maps the individual’s skills against the traits necessary for the job and then assigns the individual to the role accordingly.

Further, personality is a function of the environment and is determined according to a “social mirror” where each of us are molded and shaped by the environmental influences. In turn, our personality determines how the environment is shaped. So, this symbiotic relationship between an individual’s personality and the environment determines to a great extent whether the relationship between the individual and the environment is smooth or is characterized by friction.

In many technology and financial services companies where personality is important for the success of the individual in the chosen role, managers and people managers often spend a great deal of time with the employees to assess the “fit” between the individual and the job. They are assisted by the HRD function in this endeavor where the individual is deemed suitable for some roles and unsuitable for other roles. Only when there is a determination of the strategic fit between the individual and the role can there be job fulfillment and job satisfaction. Indeed, employees are consulted during their appraisals and 1:1 with the managers to determine this fit.

Finally, as discussed elsewhere, there is no point in having the right person for the wrong job and the wrong person for the right job. Hence, there has to be a rational assessment of the fit and then only can organizations achieve the balance that is needed for optimal performance.


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