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People show substantial individual differences, or variation in how they

respond to the same situation based on personal characteristics.
Understanding individual differences helps to explain human behavior, but
environmental influences are also important.
The importance of understanding individual differences for managing people
is highlighted by the research of Marcus Buckingham.
Marcus Buckingham is a British-American New York Times bestselling author,
researcher, motivational speaker and business consultant. CEO of TMBC (The
Marcus Buckingham Company). Marcus Buckingham who studied over
80,000 managers using both survey questionnaires and interviews. He
concluded that exceptional managers come to value the particular quirks
and abilities of their employees.
A basic proposition of psychology states that behavior is a function of a
person interacting with his or her environment.
Here we identify seven consequences of individual differences that have a
major impact or managing people
1. People differ in productivity.
A comprehensive analysis of individual differences illustrates the magnitude
of human variation in job performance.
2. Quality of work varies because people vary in their propensity for
achieving high-quality results.
Some people take naturally to striving for high quality because they are
conscientious, have a good capacity for precision, and take pride in their
work. Workers who are less conscientious, less precise, and have little pride
will have more difficulty achieving quality targets.
3. Empowerment is effective with some workers, but not with all.
People differ in how much they want to be empowered and involved.
However, many other workers are not looking for more responsibility and job
involvement. They prefer jobs that require a minimum of mental involvement
and responsibility.
4. A given leadership style does not work with all people.
People differ in the style of leadership they prefer and need. Many individuals
prefer as much freedom as possible on the job and can function well under

such leadership. Other individuals want to be supervised closely by their


5. People differ in their need for contact with other people.

As a by-product of their personality traits and occupational interests, people
vary widely in how much human contact they need to keep them satisfied.
Some people can work alone all day and remain highly productive. Others
become restless unless they are engaged in business or social conversation
with another employee. Some workers will often drop by the work area of
other workers just to chat.
6. Company management will find that commitment to the firm varies
The reason is that people differ in their commitment and loyalty to the firm.
Some employees are so committed to their employees that they act as if
they are part owners of the firm.
7. Workers vary in their level of self-esteem, which in turn, influences their
productivity and capacity to take on additional responsibilities.
People with high-esteem believe that they can cope with the basic
challenges of life (self-efficacy) and also that they are worthy of happiness
(self-respect). A group of economists found that self-esteem, as measured by
a personality test, had a big impact on the wages of young workers.
Demographic diversity refers to the differences in background factors
relating to the workforce that help shape workers attitudes and behavior.
Key sources of demographic diversity include gender, generational
differences and age, and ethnicity.
Sex differences refer to actual biological differences, such as the average
height of men versus that of women.
Gender differences refer to differences in the perception of male and female
A series of studies suggest that gender differences in the personality exist.
These findings include the following:

Women are better able to understand nonverbal communication

Women are more expressive of emotion
The average woman is more trusting and more nurturing than the
average man.

According to James Q. Wilson, men are more likely to value equity, whereas
women value equality. Equity refers to people being treated fairly and
equality refers to people sharing equally.
A researcher has noted that males and females are alike on most, but not all,
behavioral variables. Overinflated claims of gender differences can do harm
in the workplace.

Generational and Age-Based Differences - people may behave differently on

the job based somewhat on the behaviors and attitudes typical of many
members of their generation. We emphasize that we are dealing in
stereotypes that represent tendencies of the typical worker in a generational
According to Constance Patterson, every generation is influenced by the
major economic, political, and social events of its era, such as the Great
Depression, the womens movement, and advances in information
Age and experience are not synonymous. For example, a person age 35
might have 14 years experience as a restaurant manager, whereas a person
age 65 might have 5 years experience in such a position. Nevertheless, age
and experience are usually related.
Differences in job performance and behavior are sometimes attributed to
ethnic group and racial differences.
Demographic diversity will often give an organization a competitive
advantage - similarity to the work group positively influenced the individuals
perception of group productivity and commitment to the work group.
Intelligence - the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge including solving
Intelligence has been defined in many different ways such as in terms of
one's capacity for logic, abstract thought, understanding, self-awareness,
communication, learning, emotional knowledge, memory, planning, creativity
and problem solving.
Components of Intelligence

Verbal Comprehension - the ability to understand the meanings of

words and their relationship to one another and to comprehend written
and spoken information

Word Fluency - the ability to use words quickly and easily without
emphasis on verbal comprehension
Numerical - the ability to handle numbers
Spatial - the ability to visualize forms in space and manipulate objects
Memory - having a good rote recall for symbols words and lists of
Perceptual Speed - the ability to perceive visual details
Inductive reasoning - the ability to discover a rule or principle and
apply it in a solving a problem

The Triarchic Theory of Intelligence

Analytical - Manager A scored well on mental ability test and was good
at both test taking and analytical thinking
Creative - Manager B had mediocre test scores. But she was creative
thinker and insightful in sizing up people and business situation
Practical - Manager C also had mediocre test scores, but he had street
smarts and understood how to manipulate his environment in a variety.
Before becoming a manager, he was an excellent sales representative

Multiple Intelligences

Linguistic - enables people to communicate through language,

including reading and writing and speaking.
Logical - enables individuals to see relationships between objects and
solve problems such as in calculus and statistics
Musical - gives people the capacity to create and understand meanings
made out of sounds and to enjoy different types of music.
Spatial - enables people to perceive and manipulate images in their
brain and to re create them from memory such as in making graphic
Bodily - enables people to use their body and perceptual and motor
system in skilled ways such as dancing playing sports and expressing
emotion through facial expressions
Intrapersonal - enables people to distinguish among their own feelings
and acquire accurate self knowledge
Interpersonal - makes it possible for individuals to recognize and make
distinctions among feelings motives and intentions of others

Naturalist - enables individuals to differentiate among classify and use

various features of the physical external environment.

Personality refers to the persistent and enduring behavior patterns of an
individual that are expressed in a wide variety of situations. It is the
combination of attributes, traits, and characteristics that makes you unique.
Eight Major Personality Factors and Traits

Openness to experience

7. Risk taking and thrill seeking

8. Optimism

An outgoing person is often described as extraverted ; whereas a shy person

is described as introverted.
The four main skills of emotional intelligence

Self awareness - is the ability to perceive our emotions and

understand our tendencies to act in certain ways in given situations
Self management - is our ability to understand the emotions of
other people (which others are thinking and feeling)
Social awareness - our abilities to use awareness of our emotions to
stay flexible and direct our behavior positively and constructively
Self management - ability to use awareness of our emotions and
those of others to manage interactions successfully


Individual Differences- Variations in how people respond to the

same situation based on personal characteristics.

Demographic Diversity- Differences in background factors about the

workforce that help shape workers attitudes and behavior.

Intelligence- The capacity to acquire and apply knowledge, including

solving problems.

G(General) Factor- a major component of intelligence that

contributes to problem-solving ability

s(Special) Factors- components of intelligence that contribute to

problem solving ability

Triarchic Theory of Intelligence- The theory that intelligence is

composed of three different types of intelligence: analytical,
creative, and practical.

Multiple Intelligence- The theory that people know and understand

the world in distinctly different ways, or look at it through different

Personality- The persistent and enduring behavior patterns of an

individual that are expressed in a wide variety of situations.

Emotional Intelligence- Qualities such as understanding ones own

feelings, empathy for others, and the regulation of emotion to
enhance living.