Employers have long known that employees who have integrity are also top performers. Now there is a related personality trait that is a unique predictor of outstanding job performance: honesty-humility.
In fact, the more honest and humble employees are, the higher their job performance, as rated by the employees' supervisors, according to researchers from Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
"This study shows that those who possess the combination of honesty and humility have better job performance," said Dr. Wade Rowatt, co-study. "In fact, we found that humility and honesty not only correspond with job performance, but [also] it predicted job performance above and beyond any of the other five personality traits like agreeableness and conscientiousness."
The five big personality traits are:
- Neuroticism: A tendency to experience unpleasant emotions, such as anxiety, anger or depression.
- Extroversion: Energy and the tendency to seek stimulation and the company of others.
- Agreeableness: A tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others.
- Conscientiousness: A tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully and aim for achievement.
- Openness to experience: Appreciation for art, emotion, adventure and unusual ideas; imaginative and curious.
The study: The Baylor team, along with a business consultant, surveyed 269 employees in 25 companies across 20 states who work in positions that provide health care for challenging clients. Supervisors of the employees in the study then rated the job performance of each employee on 35 different job skills and described the kind of customer with whom the employee worked. The ratings were included to inform higher management how employees were performing and for the Baylor researchers to examine which personality variables were associated with job performance ratings.
The results: Those who self-reported more honesty and humility were scored significantly higher by their supervisors for their job performance. The researchers defined honesty and humility as those who exhibit high levels of fairness, greed-avoidance, sincerity and modesty.
"This study has implications for hiring personnel in that we suggest more attention should be paid to honesty and humility in applicants and employees, particularly those in care-giving roles," said Megan Johnson, a Baylor doctoral candidate who conducted the study. "Honest and humble people could be a good fit for occupations and organizations that require special attention and care for products or clients. Narcissists, on the other hand, who generally lack humility and are exploitative and selfish, would probably be better at jobs that require self-promotion."
The study, which is the first to link honesty and humility to better job performance, was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
--From the Editors at Netscape