Personality More Important Than Job Satisfaction In Job Performance
Job satisfaction has traditionally been thought
of by most business managers to be key in determining job performance.
The prevailing thought is if you are satisfied and happy in your
work, you will perform better than someone who isn’t happy
Not so, according to a research project by Nathan Bowling, Ph.D.,
an assistant professor of psychology at Wright State. His findings,
which will be published soon in the Journal of Vocational Behavior,
show that although satisfaction and performance are related to each
other, satisfaction does not cause performance.
“My study shows that a cause and effect relationship does
not exist between job satisfaction and performance. Instead, the
two are related because both satisfaction and performance are
the result of employee personality characteristics, such as self-esteem,
emotional stability, extroversion and conscientiousness,”
Bowling, who specializes in industrial and organizational psychology,
said his findings are based on reviewing data from several thousand
employees compiled over several decades. His subjects, mostly
in the United States, involved several hundred different organizations.
Bowling said the public, and even researchers, can get confused
over the relationship between job satisfaction and job performance.
“Just because two things are related doesn’t mean
that one causes the other. For example, there is a relationship
between the amount of ice cream sold on a given day and the crime
rate for that day. On days when ice cream sales are high, the
number of crimes committed will also tend to be high. But this
doesn’t mean that ice cream sales cause crime. Rather, ice
cream sales and crime are related because each is the result of
the outdoor temperature. Similarly, satisfaction and performance
are related because each is the result of employee personality.”
Bowling said he was surprised that researchers have devoted little
effort to the illusion of job satisfaction and performance, and
he hopes his work will lead to further research in this field.
“This work has important practical implications. Simply
put, workplace interventions designed to improve performance by
exclusively targeting employee satisfaction are unlikely to be
effective,” he said. His next project is to look at how
factors in the work environment influence job satisfaction and