EMBA Learning Exercise 1
Individual Differences and Their Potential Impact on Job Performance, Job Satisfaction and Workplace Stress
Dr. Dan Baugher Posted 1/25/16 (Monday); Due 2/11/16 (Thursday)
Incident: Seeking to be an Employee in a Financial Services Organization
Alex has been interested in working for a financial services firm since he began college and majored in Finance. He has considered seeking a management position but, recently, he has been considering a sales position instead because he has a strong interest in money and he has learned that someone in sales can make even more than a manager as the result of strong commission incentives. Like most students seeking a job, Alex would not only like to be a strong performer but also find satisfaction in his work and be able to handle stress when it does occur.
Friends have recommended budget analyst positions in government, which often pay less but tend to be less stressful given government job protections. None of these positions require sales. Teamwork is not often required in government financial positions because the focus of both managers and non-managers tends to be on analysis making team activities uncommon in the job. Budget recommendations must be made quickly, decisively, and unequivocally given the very short timeframe for annual budgets. An examiner can delay work on some projects until annual budget discussions start to heat up but recommendations cannot be easily changed.
Alex has investigated sales and management positions in the financial services industry. From what he has learned, there is likely to be a good deal of stress in these jobs. Unlike financial positions in government, sales representatives and managers in this industry are required to meet high-pressure, monthly objectives. Recently, he has focused mainly on wealth management in the banking segment of the industry.
Sales reps. must meet sales objectives but have little say in who they call on or contact to meet their objectives. They are given a list and must follow it. Moreover, sales reps, as they work, can be seen by all other sales reps in their office which some suggest feels like “being under the microscope.” Overall compensation, even with incentive pay, is not high in many banks.
Managers in this industry have considerable discretion in the selection of clients for their sales representatives to contact and their day to day activities. Though they, too, face high pressure objectives, they are compensated with attractive, private offices and excellent pay and many opportunities for promotion. Managers have a heavy workload that results in the need for them to develop, motivate, and delegate to subordinates which they do as needed with little oversight. Sales managers manage sales reps.
Both jobs require a large investment of time to meet objectives. Though the time commitment is somewhat less for sales representatives than for their managers, the quantitative nature of sales objectives creates more pressure for their completion than certain less tangible managerial objectives, such as better employee morale. Sales representatives make few decisions about their job. Their managers make decisions on a regular basis, but there is often considerable room for change and adjustment at a later date. They can hedge a bit sometimes.
Alex recognizes that people, including him, differ on a vast range of skill, abilities, and personality characteristics. He understands that individual differences can be a major factor for performance, job satisfaction, and stress. He has also learned to appreciate that the selection of employees for various tasks must take into consideration these individual differences.
While working toward his MBA, Alex obtained an internship at a major bank in New York City where he evaluated procedures for determining the best contacts for selling various investment options. He also showed newer interns how to do their work when his manager was too busy to supervise them. His manager gave him a very good performance review.
Before graduation, Alex sought jobs as a sales representative and management intern in a variety of firms in the financial services industry in New York City. Every time such a position appeared, he applied for it. On occasion, he would see a financial position in New York City or New York State government, including important positions in their Budget Offices. He is now faced with two job offers.
One is to serve as a Risk Analyst Manager for a major bank where, after a brief internship, he will manage analysts who estimate the bank’s potential for financial loss from loans it has extended, including mortgages. In this position, he will need to focus heavily on bringing out the capabilities of his analysts and their best performance through personal training if necessary so that their work is completed accurately and on a timely basis. Given their high turnover and difficulty to replace, he can afford to lose none. His primary goal is to develop an effective team. Since the system of risk analysis is highly routinized, he does not decide how to conduct the analyses though he will be an expert after his internship and given his experience/education.
Each analyst has the same job and is matched to the jobs by HR testing. Deadlines and job-to-job tasks are assigned by the computer system. Alex’s expertise in risk analysis will be an important resource for his staff. He will need to seek better procedures to perform risk analysis (e.g., what to start with first) by analyzing reports on his team’s efforts and seeking out commentary from his supervisor.
The second position is as Budget Analyst for the New York State Division of the Budget. In this job, Alex will serve as a technical analyst, analyzing budget proposals for accuracy and completeness using specified criteria, and personally hold meetings with staff in such government agencies as the Department of Education to discuss budget requests. He will need to make very important, unequivocal, decisive recommendations for use by the Governor even in the most difficult situations. Budget Examiners look forward to the next promotion when they will manage other examiners and have time to think of ways to better themselves. There is little time for it in their current position. Due to their workload, analysts must pace themselves to assure work is done on time. Pressure for this job is considerable during nine months of each year but vacations can be taken in the summer without much need to contact the office.
While in college, Alex worked with career counselors who provided him with a number of self-assessment tools including a “Big Five” personality assessment, a type A vs. type B personality assessment, and a locus of control assessment. His results are shown in Table 1. The categorization of High or Low is dictated by the norms for each inventory and provided with each assessment. Alex happens to have no Moderate scores.
Research in the field of ability and personality has shown that the individual characteristics in the profile below can impact job performance, job satisfaction, and response to stress. Individual characteristics vary in their impact on these factors. For example, one characteristic might increase the likelihood of being a better manager while, at the same time, making stress or dissatisfaction more likely. Another might do the reverse and still another might increase the likelihood that an employee will perform well, be satisfied, and be resistant to stress. It is difficult to say a high score or a low score on any characteristic is “good” or “bad.” It depends on what one is considering and circumstance.
As you review these characteristics, note that “moderate” scores are not likely to have any significant impact relative to other employees. It is low scores and high scores that take on greater significance relative to others. Moderate scores can be determined from the norms provided for each scale. They are scores that fall in the middle relative to others. For IQ, for example, an IQ of 100 is moderate but it is a score of 140 or 70 that takes on greater significance relative to others because they are less frequent. Also, note that all of the Big Five personality characteristics are included in the self-assessment but not in this exercise.
A low score on locus of control means one has an external locus of control while a high score means one has an internal locus. A low score on type A/B means one has a Type B personality while a high score means one is Type A. A low score on extraversion means that one is an introvert. This measure of extraversion relates only to the need for social interaction of extraverts-introverts. The concept of extraversion-introversion involves other characteristics not measured or considered in this exercise. A low score on conscientiousness and agreeableness means one is low on both.
While middle level scores are not valuable for predicting traits, as scores get lower or higher on a trait at any point in the distribution, differences in performance, satisfaction and the impact of stress will change accordingly. These impacts will increasingly differ as individual scores increasingly differ. Do not underestimate the impact of personality and other individual characteristics on the ability of managers and their employees to perform, feel more satisfied on the job, and to be better able to resist the impact of stress.
Table 1: Alex Score Profile
Individual Characteristics Score Range
Extraversion 42 10 to 50 High
Conscientiousness 20 10 to 50 Low
Agreeableness 41 10 to 50 High
Locus of Control
(High is internal) (Low is external) 5 0 to 23 Low
Type A/B (High is A) (Low is B) 40 20 to 140 Low
NOTE: Accept what is said about the positions as the focus is on the analysis of how individual differences can affect job performance, satisfaction, and stress and not on the positions. The information provided about each position is generic and reasonably accurate but modified to make answering easier. Your instructor has been a consultant to the State Budget Division and financial services firms for 30+ years.
UPDATE: Alex decided to take the position of Risk Analyst Manager. He has seven analysts under his supervision in this very challenging position. He has been employed for one year and is junior among many other managers, most of who have worked there for 10 years or longer and stick together, avoiding him. His pay and benefits are competitive though less than he wanted. Other employers offer more and he has been tempted to leave. He has found the work important but has often been very confused on whether he should have his analysts be totally objective about potential risk. His supervisor gives little oversight and delegates but emphasizes how managers can lose their jobs for inaccurate reports.
Questions: In answering, refer to chapter 5 and chapter 7 of the text. Base all your answers on lecture material and the text. Do not change facts as stated. The Big Five personality assessment is in the text. The Locus of Control and Type A/B assessment will be provided separately. [Note: The Answer Sheet provides the required structure for answering the question. Read questions then move to the Answer Sheet.]
1. Performance: Consider Alex’s profile. Which characteristic (A) makes him especially likely to perform well for both the position of Risk Analyst Manager AND Budget Analyst, (B) will cause him the greatest difficulty performing in both positions, and (C) would hurt his performance as a Budget Examiner but generally help him perform most of what he must do as Risk Analyst Manager? Why? [Use personality characteristics that have been found to relate to competencies required; use trait ONLY once.] (27)
2. Workplace Stress: Given what is known, which employee, Sales Representative or Manager of Sales Reps., within the banking niche of the financial services industry, could be expected to experience the greatest workplace stress per workplace stress theories? Which employee and why? (22)
3. Job Satisfaction: Now that Alex has taken the Risk Analyst Manager position, what is your estimate of his job satisfaction and commitment to the firm given his personality and the situation? Specify the factors leading to your answer. Be sure to use appropriate research findings. Suggest one action you might take that you believe could be done quickly to improve his job satisfaction (pay and benefits don’t change quickly). This question’s focus is on what factors cause stress NOT response to stress. Q4 is about stress tolerance and response. (29)
4. Your Reaction/Susceptibility to Stress Relative to Alex: Take the self-assessment provided on page 168 to 169 of chapter 5 and the assessments provided for locus of control and type A/B personality. This will result in seven personality scores. Not all relate to stress susceptibility. Do you have any score difference that would make you more or less susceptible to stress than Alex? Which and why? (22) [Note: Small differences can make important relative differences; if you don’t have the same score, you are higher or lower than Alex on the characteristic and the impact of that difference will increase as the difference increases.]
ANSWER SHEET – Exercise 1
Use this answer sheet to structure your answer in Word; copy it and follow structure; it is required; Read prior questions first.
DO NOT add your own sub-sections. It will hurt. Follow this structure exactly as shown. To maintain equity on length, the maximum page limit is four pages. I stop reading at the end of page 4. So, try to be concise. Four pages is plenty.
DUE: 2/11/16 (Thursday)
Your Name: _____________________________ Date: _________
Q1: (27 pts.)
(A) Specify the ONE personality characteristic that is most likely to foster success in performing the tasks of Risk Analyst Manager AND Budget Analyst:
Why It Helps Task Performance in Both Jobs:
(B) Specify the ONE personality characteristic that is most likely to foster difficulty in performing the tasks of Risk Analyst Manager AND Budget Analyst:
Why It Hurts Task Performance in Both Jobs:
(C) Specify the ONE personality characteristic that would hurt task performance as Budget Analyst but, for the most part, help task performance as Risk Analyst Manager:
Why It Hurts Budget Analyst Task Performance But Helps Most Tasks for Risk Analyst Manager:
Q2. (22 pts.)
(A) Will stress be greater for the Sales Rep. or Mgr. of Sales Reps. in the financial industry?
(B) Specify the workplace stress theories using their concepts to defend your selection, making sure you compare the Sales Rep. and Manager of Sales Reps. in your answer.
Q3. (29 pts.)
(A) Specify two personality characteristics that Alex possesses that would result in less satisfaction in the position of Risk Analyst Manager? If so, specify, explaining what research says to defend your answer. [This is not about response to stress.]
(B) Specify three factors that might lower Alex’s satisfaction and commitment in this position. Do not specify Pay and Benefits (too obvious). Explain what is happening in the situation relevant to the factor and why it would lower satisfaction. Be guided by your text’s factor structure (pp 159-160).
Factor Name (1):
Factor Name (2):
Factor Name (3):
(C) Specify ONE management action that could quickly increase Alex’s satisfaction [This means at least one of your factors in B must be actionable and have the possibility of change.]
Why Increase Satisfaction:
Q4: (22 pts.)
(A) First, specify any characteristics where you have identical scores as Alex or specify “None.”
(B) Some of Alex’s personality characteristics have a relationship to his response to external stressors. Specify the relevant personality traits, compare your scores to Alex, and note whether you will be more or less stressed than Alex and why. These have an association with how one experience’s stress, reacts to stress, or creates stress in situations. [This question, unlike Q3, is about response to stress, magnification of existing stressors in situations].
Personality Trait 1:
Alex Score, Your Score, How Differ (Scores, Is Yours Higher/Lower):
Why Increase or Decrease Your Stress:
Personality Trait 2:
Alex Score, Your Score, How Differ (Scores, Is Yours Higher/Lower):
Why Increase or Decrease Your Stress:
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