Relationship Between Personality Traits, Work Environment And Interpersonal Relationship At Work

Project and Seminar Material for Psychology

Relationship Between Personality Traits, Work Environment And Interpersonal Relationship At Work


Studies have shown that in as much as there are more than one person who work in an Organisation, interpersonal relationship is about the most important factor in the productivity and success of such Organisation. The objective of this study therefore is to examine the influence of Personality factors and work environment on interpersonal relationship at work.

A survey research design was adopted using a total sample of one hundred and eighty-one employees, across different industries in Lagos. The responses from the sample were used to test the various hypotheses relationships proposed in the study.

The findings reveal the importance of Interpersonal relationship at work. It was found that work environment significantly predicts interpersonal relationship, β = 0.59, t(181) = 0.59, p<0.05. Work environment explained 35% of variance in interpersonal relation scores, R2 = 0.35, F (1,181) = 35.87, p< 0.05. Also, the study revealed no significant correlation between openness and interpersonal relationship (r =.08, p>.05); so also, Openness does not predict Interpersonal Relationship, β = 0.08, t(181) = 1.05, p>0.05. Openness explained 0% of variance in Interpersonal Relationship scores, R2 = 0.00, F (1,181) = 1.11, p>0.05; so also for conscientiousness. This study also revealed no significant correlation between openness and interpersonal relationship (r =.08, p>.05). Pearson R Correlation conducted revealed significant positive correlation between Extraversion and Interpersonal Relationship (r =.41, p<.05). Agreeableness significantly predicts Interpersonal Relationship, β = 0.62, t(181) = 11.47, p<0.05. Agreeableness explained 12% of variance in Interpersonal Relation scores, R2 = 0.12, F (1,181) = 17.56, p<0.05. Neuroticism does not predict Interpersonal Relationship, β = 0.10, t(181) = 1.30, p>0.05. Neuroticism accounts 2% of variance in Interpersonal Relation scores, R2 = 0.12, F (1,181) = 1.70, p>0.05. From the independent-samples t-test conducted there was Abstract

xii significant difference in scores on interpersonal relationship for males (M = 30.84, SD = 8.52) and females, (M = 21.26, SD = 9.89); t (181) = 6.21, p<.05.

The findings presented here contributes to workplace interpersonal relationship literature in a number of ways. Most importantly, the findings contribute to the emerging stream of research recognizing the relationship between all the components of Big Five Personality Inventory and Interpersonal relationship at work.

Chapter One


Interpersonal relationships at work have impact on both organizations and employees. This impact can be either positive or negative depending on the nature of the interpersonal relationship. Positive interpersonal relationship can improve individual employee attitudes such as job satisfaction, job commitment, engagement and perceived organizational support (Ellingwood, 2001; Morrison, 2009; Song & Olshfski, 2008; Zagenczyk, Scott, Gibney, Murrell, & Thatcher, 2010). Also negative work attitudes can be reduced when employees discuss bad and unpleasant work experiences (Morrison, 2009; Odden & Sias, 1997; Song & Olshfski, 2008). On an organisational level, valued work relationships can influence organizational outcomes by increasing institutional participation, establishing supportive and innovative climates, increasing organizational productivity and indirectly reducing the intent to turnover (Berman, West, Richter, & Maurice, 2002; Crabtree, 2004; Ellingwood, 2004).

Previous research has examined contextual and demographic antecedents to workplace relationships to better understand what influences the likelihood that employees develop positive relationships at work. One of the key characteristics that has been identified to play a role is personality (Ilies et al., 2009).

According to Akintayo (2012), working environment refers to the immediate task and national environment where an organization draws its inputs, processed it and returned the outputs inform of products or services for public consumption. These include the supplier, customer, stakeholders, social-cultural, economic, technological, managerial and legal environment.

Research in the field of industrial psychology revealed that work environment, which can be measured through employees’ perceptions about the feature of their organisation, has significant relationship with several domains of organisational behaviour such as job performance, organisational commitment, motivation etc. According to Adeniji (2011) researchers in organizational behaviour have long been interested in understanding employees‘ perceptions of the work environment and how these perceptions influence individuals‘ work- related attitudes and behaviours. Early researchers suggested that the social climate or atmosphere created in a workplace had significant consequences- employees‘ perceptions of the work context purportedly influenced the extent to which people were satisfied and perform up to their potential, which in turn, was predicted to influence organizational productivity (e.g Katz & Kahn, 2004; Likert,1997, McGregor, 2000). The construct of climate has been studied extensively and has proven useful in capturing perceptions of the work context (Denisson, 2006; Ostroff, Kinicki & Tamkins, 2007). Climate has been described as an experientially based description of the work environment and, more specifically, employees‘ perceptions of the formal and informal policies, practices and procedures in their organization (Schneider, 2008).

It is deduced that studies on organizational climate also refers to the work environment since organizational climate, conceptually, is a description of the work environment based on employees’ perceptions. In this study, the researcher probes into the work environment as it affects interpersonal relationship among employees. Also, personality is investigated as a dispositional factor with implications on the level and quality of interpersonal relationships of employees.

1.2 Background of the Study

Work environment on the behaviour of its members has been an important issue of discussion and analysis since long back. In industrial context, the problem of increasing production and making the work environment more pleasant have been approached through the introduction of durable changes in working environment. The environment in work organizations comprises several components of two major categories, namely, physical and psycho-social. During early days of development of industrial psychology only physical environment in work place was given importance and was considered as a predominant determinant of employees’ productivity. Numerous earlier studies examined the effect of illumination, temperature, noise, and atmospheric conditions on productivity of the workers (Bennett, Chitlangia, & Pangnekar, 1977; McCormic & Sanders, 1982; Moreland & Barnes, 1970; Peterson & Gross, 1978; Vickroy, Shaw, & Fisher, 1982). However, no consistent relationship could be noted between these components of physical work environment and performance. After Hawthorne studies industrial psychologists started shifting their attention to the study of social and psychological environment and its effects on employees’ job behaviour.

The recognition of the significant role of psycho-social environment led to the emergence of organizational psychology, and further the concept of ‘quality of work life’. The importance of physical work environment has now been again realized. The modern organizations are making all possible efforts to make work environment more comfortable, safe and healthy, which resulted in emergence of a new branch of industrial/organizational psychology, namely ‘occupational health psychology’. This is a more holistic method of looking at the work environment and the health of the workers.

The influence of organizational climate, which is mostly composed of several organizational, social and psychological factors, has been extensively examined in past two decades. In a number of studies employees’ motivation, job satisfaction, job involvement, job performance, and health have been found to be markedly influenced by psycho-social environment of work organization (Anantharaman & Subha, 1980; Dugdill, 2000; Mishra, 1986; Muchinsky, 1977; Tumuly, Jernigan & Kohut, 1994).

1.3 Statement of the Problem

Interpersonal relationships among employees pose significant concern to management. This is due to the fact that it has serious implications for organisational outcomes. When employees have negative interpersonal relationships, conflict is the inevitable consequence. Thus, studies have looked into aspects of the work environment that could foster an atmosphere of harmony and cohesiveness in the workplace. Furthermore, a boost to productivity is expected when employees have good interpersonal relationship. This is because ideas will flow more easily through the organisations and problems will be solved more readily.

However, the determinants of positive interpersonal relationships is an issue organisational psychologists have been contending with over the past two decades. Aspects of the work such as job design, feedback, etc and individual factors such as motivation, job involvement, have been the focus of most research. Nevertheless, work environment and personality traits are beginning to surface as relevant predictors of interpersonal relationship. The ability of work environment to stimulate positive interpersonal relations and of personality traits to predispose employees to seeking meaningful relationships in the work place are important discourse in the literature on organisational behaviour.

Taking this fact into consideration, the present study aimed at examining the influence of work environment and personality traits on interpersonal relationships among employees.

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study is to investigate the relationship between work environment, big 5 personality traits, and interpersonal relations.

The specific objectives of this study are as follows:

  1. To determine the relationship between work environment and interpersonal relationship.
  2. To investigate the relationship between openness and interpersonal relationship.
  3. To examine the relationship between conscientiousness and interpersonal relationship.
  4. To observe the relationship between extraversion and interpersonal relationship.
  5. To investigate the relationship between agreeableness and interpersonal relationship.
  6. To investigate the relationship between neuroticism and interpersonal relationship.

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study is important for the following reasons:

Interpersonal relationships have significant impact on productivity among employees. Positive interpersonal relationships enhance cooperation among workers and lead to achievement of organisational goals in due time. More so, management does not spend time on resolving conflict when interpersonal relationships are positive and beneficial. Thus, this study, by exploring the roles of two possible determinants of interpersonal relationships (work environment and personality traits) provides insight into better management practice.

Consequently, in the presence of positive interpersonal relationships turnover intentions are reduced as employees feel they are part of one big family. Successful organisations have succeeded in retaining their best talents by giving a sense of belongingness to them.

Personality traits are individual factors which employers cannot change, per se. nevertheless, they can be used in determining placements for individuals in different segments of organisations. On the other hand, the work environment can be improved with the aim of fostering positive interpersonal relationships. This study highlights this points by investigating the roles played by work environment and personality.

1.6 Operational Definition of Terms

Interpersonal Relationship:

Refers to patterns of interaction with specific partners such as fellow employees over time.

Work Environment:

In the context of this study, refers to the psychosocial aspects of the office as perceived by the employee.


This refers to high energy and activity level, dominance, sociability, expressiveness, and positive emotions as measured by the Big Five Inventory by John, Donahue & Kentle (1991).


Refers to prosocial orientation, altruism, tender mindedness, trust, and modesty as measured by the Big Five Inventory by John, Donahue & Kentle (1991).


Refers to impulse control, task orientation, goal directedness as measured by the Big Five Inventory by John, Donahue & Kentle (1991).


Refers to anxiety, sadness, irritability, and nervous tension as measured by the Big Five Inventory by John, Donahue & Kentle (1991).


Refers to the depth and complexity of an individual’s mental and experiential life as measured by the Big Five Inventory by John, Donahue & Kentle (1991).

Chapter Five

Summary of Findings, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.0 Introduction

The chapter gives a summary on the findings and analysis made on the data gathered, the necessary recommendations on personality and job performance at AMAC housing department using the performance appraisal measures at AMAC housing department.

5.1 Summary of Findings

The study was conducted to analyze the effect of personality traits on employee performance in AMAC housing department. One hundred and fifty (150) respondents who work at Abuja Metropolitan council were engaged in the study; however, responses were received from one hundred and forty five (145) respondents. These workers were from the various departments in AMAC housing department. The study was used to measure the personality of individuals, based on the five-factor model of personality, which includes the dimensions of Extraversion, Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Openness to experience and Conscientiousness. The five personality dimensions were each divided into a five point likert scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree using 145 employees based on Performance Appraisal measures at AMAC housing department by supervisors. The following findings were brought to fore after the study.

5.1.1 Identification of Individual Personality Traits

The study revealed the five personality traits, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, openness to experience and neuroticism were seen to be exhibited by the different individuals among the respondents at Abuja Metropolitan council and this confirms the study by (McCrae &Costa, 1997) that among every group of employees there is the probability that they will all have at least one of the five traits since the five personality traits have a genetic basis that they are probably inherited.

5.1.2 The Most Predictive Personality Trait Factor

Among the five traits in the study, conscientiousness scored the highest since majority (80-85%) strongly agreed to traits conscientiousness. The conscientious employees were purposeful, strong-willed and determined. They manifested are achievement oriented (hardworking and persistent), dependable (responsible and careful) and orderly (planful and organised). This was shown in the regression analysis proving that conscientiousness has effect on the job performance.

5.1.3 Effects of Personality Traits on Employee Performance

The study revealed after conducting the regression analysis using the five personality traits as the independent variables and employee performance that individual personality traits have effects on employee performance in the public sector.

The study showed that personality traits accounts for 68% of the variance in employee performance in AMAC housing department as measured by the samples used. The F-statistics value of 5.6 shows that the variables are statistically significant and that the individual variables had their own effects. It was seen that only two variable are significant. Thus Conscientiousness and Extroversion were the most effective on employee performance at AMAC housing department and among them Conscientiousness is the best predictor of job performance in AMAC housing department since it recorded the highest parameter rating. A possible explanation for the lack of relationships between some personality traits and task performance is that the tasks of employees in the public sector organisations are well-defined, with relatively low autonomy allowed. According to Barrick (2001), personality dimensions are most likely to affect job performance in situations where autonomy is high.

5.2 Conclusion

The public sector has a lot of people that are working there as such their personality traits should be checked. The current study showed that in every organization there will be different character traits that might influence job performance in the organization.

A personality type play an important role in an employee job performance, as measured by standard measures of employees’ performance and has got great implications for organizational success. Personality traits are expressed in skills, which are in turn reflected in strategies and eventually produce a better organizational outcome (De Raad & Schouwenburg, 1996). Therefore, an understanding of the employees’ personality traits becomes an important pedagogical tool. Understanding the employees’ personality traits in which employees gather and process information (manners and ways) can lead to more effective pedagogies that will benefit both employees and the organization.

Therefore the personality trait that impact on employees performance at AMAC housing department is

5.3 Recommendations

5.3.1 Performance Appraisal

The study revealed that Personality Traits of employees at Abuja Metropolitan Council has not been critically looked into especially its bearing on job performance. It is therefore recommended that the Performance Appraisal should be designed in such a way it incorporates their traits so that objectives sets would be easily achievable due to fact that job would be rightly assigned and executed. Again, it will help the Human Resource Department draw out training and development to ensure effective and
efficient use of resources.

5.3.2 Recruitment and Selection

The study has revealed that every employee possesses diverse personality traits that may positively or negatively affect their work therefore during recruitment and selection the Human Resource Managers should not concentrate on academic qualifications and experience alone. They should take into consideration the personality traits of applicants in order to assign the right people for the right job.

5.3.3 Execution of Work

It was found out of the study that Conscientiousness and Extroversion has a positive effect on job performance on employees at Abuja Metropolitan council, it is therefore recommended that during job execution the Human Resource Manager should first consider employees with these traits in job execution in order for the rest to follow suit.

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