‘ Why older Workers Work beyond the Retirement Age’
Write a critique on ‘ Why older Workers Work beyond the Retirement Age: a qualitative Study by Sewdas et al (2017 ) BMC Journal of Public Health Vol.17 (1) pp.1-9
This essay creates awareness on how leaders can create high-performance teams by understanding the different personality traits. The first section presents a detailed literature review on high-performance skills, the need for strong interpersonal skills, high-performance culture and their connection to the personality traits and effective leadership. Supported by diverse literature, this section acknowledges that leaders need interpersonal skills. In addition, there is a need to apply the contingency management theory to determine how the five personality traits can interrelate within teams to achieve high performance. The second section analyzes my personal characteristics as dictated by the OCEAN model. This section emphasizes the need to master the behavior theories as they influence the linear and non-linear relationship between interpersonal skills, team contribution, and personality traits. This section further reinforces the fact that understanding weaknesses and strengths in a person’s trait can be important in improving team productivity. Guided by this analysis, I established the need to improve my performance in the five traits.
Leading and Building High Performance Teams
The increasing significance of team work in creating competitive advantages for organizations has motivated an increase in research on team effectiveness. Unlike past leadership theories which only focused on leading individuals, modern theories advise leaders on how to lead and manage high performance teams. Such teams are imperative not only to the performance and sustainability of the organization, but also in empowering, engaging, and motivating employees. According to Northhouse (2014), a leader needs strong interpersonal skills to create and manage high performing teams. Strong interpersonal skills are important since they help leaders navigate the complex modern workplace, especially when diverse and multicultural workforces are involved (Roe, 2020). Backed by this understanding, this paper integrates literature on leadership to detail the process of building a personal profile by identifying weaknesses and strengths in my interpersonal skills that could either be a hindrance or asset to teamwork. Besides, it builds a plan of action that strengthens the positive aspects of my interpersonal skills in a manner that will assist contribute positively to the team environment. To achieve this goal, this paper adopts behavioral theories that reinforce arguments, assertions, and specific leadership needs.
- Literature Review on Leading High-Performance Teams
High performance teams have to be created by adopting a high-performance culture. Culture denotes sets of behaviors that influence and determine how a company conducts its operations. It influences the behavior of the individuals and the organization as a whole. High performing cultures empower employees, thus equipping them with the knowledge and skills to enable high performance at all levels (Vîrgă et al., 2014). In return, the organization benefits from high retention rates, low turnover, high productivity and increased engagement. Normally, turnover rate for a high culture organization is 14% while the annual turnover for those with poor cultures is estimated at 48%. This example reinforces the perception that high-performance cultures should integrate sets of norms and behaviors that motivate employees and other stakeholders to achieve superior results. Parker (2008) reinforces this statement, noting that organizations create high performance cultures by encouraging teamwork. This is the first step to achieving collaboration in different spheres of the organization. For instance, teaming among people from the same department or in other departments, increases collaboration, and sharing, which could foster knowledge management. Through collaborations, employees will complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, thus performing better. Other approaches to creating high performance culture is through innovation, agility, communication, supportive work environment, performance focus, and alignment of mission and vision statements.
The five personality traits, as depicted by the OCEAN model influences team performance. As a result, when designing high performance teams, it is quintessential that the leader identifies the personality traits of each of the team members. Kichuk and Wiesner (2007) illustrates that when selecting a high-performance team for product design, it is necessary for the leader to set the objectives of the project. The second step is determining the composition of the teams. For optimal combination, Zaccaro et al. (2001) propose that the big five personality factors could be used to select teams based on traits such as openness to experiences, extraversion conscientiousness, neuroticism, and agreeableness. Kichuk and Wiesner (2007) add that, besides the personality traits, a leader should consider the cognitive abilities of the team members. Depending on the best combination of traits, the teams involved in the experiments reported varied results. Successful teams were characterized with high levels of cognitive abilities, high extraversion, lower neurotic and higher agreeableness. This contrasts the unsuccessful and less productive teams which scored lowly in these traits. In addition, the study established that heterogeneity of conscientiousness was indirectly or negatively related to increments in product performance.
MSU (2020) builds on this foundation, noting that individuals working in roles requiring creativity and innovation such as digital content creators, creative directors, and graphic designers should have more of the openness trait. This allows curiosity and imagination to thrive among the team members. It was determined that teams with high extroversion will be successful in jobs requiring social group activities such as company sports teams. Team members with conscientious traits may prefer activities requiring one-on-one conversations to develop team goals (MSU, 2020). Leading groups with a full spectrum of the OCEAN traits requires a flexible or contingent model of management rather than a one-size-fits all approach. The contingency model ensures the leader utilizes the strengths of each individual and balances with the weaknesses of another member.
- Personal Characteristics and OCEAN Model
As noted in the analysis of my personality using the OCEAN model or the big five personality test, I scored averagely in terms of openness and agreeability, highly in conscientiousness and extraversion traits, and below average in neuroticism. A quick review of these traits shows that openness refers to the ability to learn and embrace new things. According to Salas et al. (2013), this trait is very important in teamwork since it determines the ability of a person to accept and adapt new ideas proposed by teammates. The trait of conscientiousness denotes the ability to be methodical, thorough and well organized. Conscientious people value perfectionism and effectiveness. This trait is equally important to teams since it influences the quality of output realized by teams. Extraversion is the ability to engage others in conservations, be energetic, assertive, and enthusiastic. Extroverts often drain the energy of the other members of the group. However, when the trait is used effectively, extroverted people are likely to create a strong team bond. Agreeableness is a trait that explains the friendliness of an individual. Such people are compassionate, kind, and sympathetic. Having such a personality is important in reinforcing teamwork. The fifth trait is neuroticism, which explains the aspect of emotional stability of a person. Davis (2008) emphasizes that emotional intelligence is an important aspect in modern leadership and teamwork. It is an important trait since the workplace is unpredictable and stressful. Therefore, it needs a leader who can control his/her emotions even when under duress.
An analysis of my scores in the five traits shows that I am strong in conscientiousness and extraversion, average in agreeableness and openness, and weak in neuroticism. Curşeu et al. (2019) point out that there exists a strong relationship between personality, interpersonal skills, and contribution to teamwork. A theory-driven approach to evaluating the relationship shows that personality traits of conscientiousness, agreeableness, and extraversion have an inverted U-shaped relationship with teamwork. This statement is justified by a research study which used a sample of 220 participants. The findings showed that the traits of conscientiousness, extraversion and agreeableness are curvilinearly related to peer-rated contribution to interpersonal skills and teamwork. This means that as the personality scores increased, the contribution to teamwork increased until a peak where increasing the three personality traits further led to negative contribution to teamwork. Guided by the research, Curşeu et al. (2019) propose that future models relating personality traits to teamwork should consider non-linear assumptions rather than being fixed on linear analysis as it was done in past research. They further propose that employers should look at personality when employing and assigning people to teams. The change in relationship along the U curve arises when extremely high scores in the three traits lead to unwanted results as illustrated in table 1 below.
Table 1: Teamwork‐relevant maladaptive traits (Curşeu et al., 2019)
Note: The letter C represents Conscientiousness, E represents Extraversion, while A refers to Agreeableness.
Guided by this analysis, I am convinced that I can work well in a team because I possess a favorable balance of the three traits described by Vîrgă et al. (2014), namely; consciousness, extraversion, and agreeableness. The author emphasizes that interpersonal skills of a person will rise as the percentage score of the individual rises until a plateau is reached at 80%, as exhibited in figure 2. A further rise in the score of the traits will lead to decline in interpersonal skills. For instance, improving conscientiousness above 80% will lead to tendencies of perfectionism, inflexibility and obsession while extremely low levels below 50% could lead to disorder, carelessness and wastefulness. In terms of interpersonal skills, high personality scores in conscientiousness will make the teamwork leisure-less, defensive and hypersensitive or moody. Low personality scores in conscientiousness will cause neglect and uncontrollability among team members. An excessive amount of extraversion trait will lead to diminishing contribution to teamwork since it leads to the team being superficial, exaggerative, egoistic and dominant. On the other hand, low levels of extroversion, which is an equivalent of introversion, causes reclusiveness, and detachment from the group. In regard to interactions, extroversion could make someone overly reactive and showy, while introverted traits could make a person distant and solitary. Northhouse (2014) adds that a person with high agreeableness will be lenient and submissive while low levels of this trait lead to unhealthy competition in teams and harshness. In terms of contribution to interactions, low levels of agreeableness could make a person deceitful and heartless while high levels cause gullibility and makes a person deceivable.
Figure 2: Quadratic relationships between conscientiousness, extraversion, and contributions to teamwork.
- Action Plan
This section details how to build a plan of action to strengthen the interpersonal skills in a manner that will foster contribution in team environments. Guided by the analysis in the previous sections, improving team contribution should focus on gaining skills that improve conscientiousness, agreeableness and extraversion to optimal levels of around 80%. Improving beyond this percentage would have a negative impact on interpersonal relations and individual contribution to teamwork. A suitable action plan will not only focus on improving these three traits, but also give some attention to the development of openness and neuroticism. Northhouse (2014) opines that one can improve his/her conscientiousness score through repeated practice. Through practice, the conscientiousness muscles develop incrementally, thus becoming more instinctive. Agreeableness can be improved through exposure to positive mentors and role models with high agreeableness qualities. Extroversion can be enhanced by engaging in more team work activities. I can become more open by pursuing new adventures, creative activities and experiences. These activities will make me open-minded. Roe (2020) notes that neuroticism trait can be improved through therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is helpful in managing emotions.
This paper chronologically explores a number of themes. It uses literature on leadership and teamwork to highlight the relation of teams, leadership, high-performance cultures. It emphasizes the need for high-performance cultures, which can be built through motivation, collaboration, active listening, and empathy among other interpersonal skills. Behavioral theories of management play a vital role in justifying the linear and non-linear relationship between interpersonal skills, personality traits and team contribution. As noted in the paper, the traits of extroversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness play vital roles in influencing productivity of teams. However, increasing these traits does not guarantee the best performance. As the scores reach optimum levels, mostly 80%, the contribution of the team members begins to drop. This shows that an excess of these traits is harmful to team work. Guided by the analysis, an analysis of my personal traits justifies the need to improve in all the five traits.
Curşeu, P. L., Ilies, R., Vîrgă, D., Maricuţoiu, L., & Sava, F. A. (2019). Personality characteristics that are valued in teams: Not always “more is better”? International Journal of Psychology, 54(5), 638-649.
Davis, D., & Davis, W. R. (2008). Team Performance Inventory: A Guide for Assessing and Building High-Performing Teams, Participant Workbook. London: John Wiley & Sons.
Early, G. (2017). A short history of leadership theories. Retrieved from: https://leadersquest.org/content/documents/A_short_history_of_leadership_theories.pdf
Kichuk, S. L., & Wiesner, W. H. (2007). The big five personality factors and team performance: implications for selecting successful product design teams. Journal of Engineering and Technology management, 14(3-4), 195-221.
MSU. (2020). Lead Your Team with the Big Five Model. Retrieved from: https://www.michiganstateuniversityonline.com/resources/leadership/lead-your-team-with-big-five-model/
Northhouse, P. G. (2014). Leadership: Theory and Practice. California: Sage Publishers.
Parker, G. M. (2008). Team players and teamwork: New strategies for the competitive enterprise. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Roe, K. (2020). Leadership: Practice and perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Salas, E., Tannenbaum, S., Cohen, D., & Latham, G. (2013). Developing and enhancing teamwork in organizations: Evidence-based best practices and guidelines. London: John Wiley & Sons.
Vîrgă, D., CurŞeu, P. L., Maricuţoiu, L., Sava, F. A., Macsinga, I., & Măgurean, S. (2014). Personality, relationship conflict, and teamwork-related mental models. Plos one, 9(11), e110223.
Zaccaro, S. J., Rittman, A. L., & Marks, M. A. (2001). Team leadership. The leadership quarterly, 12(4), 451-483.