People differ in their personalities, attitudes, and values, and an understanding of our individual personality is profoundly important in maximizing our happiness and productivity at work.
We spend a third of our lives at work, and people are moving around from job to job more frequently, seeking a company that allows them to maximize their potential, earn more money, or achieve a better work-life balance. For some, all of these factors will be equally important, while others will prioritize them differently.
Whatever our priorities, work feeds into many different aspects of our lives — it influences our self-identity, self-esteem, and opportunities for personal growth. If work was just about making money, it wouldn’t matter so much where we worked. But for most of us, it’s about far more than that. This is where cultural fit comes into play. But what exactly is cultural fit? Organizational psychology guru Adrian Furnham offers this definition in his seminal academic textbook, “The Psychology of Behaviour at Work”
“A fit is where there is congruence between the norms and values of the organization and those of the person.” (page 116)
Although, as Furnham goes on to discuss, fit is not only about the person and the organization — fit to coworkers and supervisor is also of importance (that’s what we’re working on). A simple example of how an individual’s personality might determine their preferences at work is shown in the diagram above (adapted from Furnham’s 2012 work).
The scale on the vertical axis shows the preference of each of the two personality types — introvert and extravert — for open plan versus separate cubicle offices. The introvert, who likes peace and quiet to get on with his or her work, strongly prefers the comforting seclusion of separate cubicles, and dislikes the noise and activity of the open-plan office. The higher the person’s introversion score (imagine it on a continuous line), the stronger their preference for the separate cubicles.
On the other hand, the extravert, who works best around other people, shows the opposite pattern — the more extraverted a person is, the more strongly they prefer the open-plan office. So what does this mean? keep reading…