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The following article
was written by Coleman Patterson and
appeared in the Business section of the Abilene Reporter-News.
There are advantages to hiring self-monitors,
May 19, 2006, 4D.
typical definition of an organization and it might read
something like “two or more individuals who work together
interdependently to accomplish a goal or set of goals.” In
order to understand organizations, we must understand
individuals. A considerable body of knowledge that focuses
on the influences of personality and individual differences
in organizations has been developed over the past century.
possession of a certain personal trait is rarely described
as good or bad—it simply helps define who a person is. For
example, it is neither good nor bad to be tall or short.
However, in some instances it might be advantageous to be
tall and in other instances, short. It would be an
advantage to be tall if you wanted to become a professional
Organizations might seek out members who possess certain
personal characteristics to fill certain roles because
possessing certain characteristics could predispose
individuals to success in a given position. It should also
be noted, however, that success is not guaranteed for those
who possess the characteristic and failure is not assured
for those who do not. There are plenty of unusually tall
people in the world who will never be professional
basketball players and also many normal-sized people who
addition to physical traits, organizations might also look
for people with certain personality traits. Personality
refers to a relatively stable set of psychological traits
that influence how a person behaves in and across
situations. Researchers have studied a variety of
personality traits and tried to identify where and when
certain traits would be advantageous for organizations. One
of these traits is known as self-monitoring.
who is a high self-monitor is much like a chameleon. A
chameleon has the ability to assess its environment and
quickly change its coloring to blend into the background.
This ability allows a chameleon to go unnoticed by others.
It becomes an unobserved and natural looking part of its
environment. By adapting to its environment, it helps
assure itself of survival.
who are high self-monitors have natural abilities to read
and gauge social and environmental cues and to then quickly
adapt their behaviors to fit unnoticed into new situations.
They observe and quickly adapt to their behaviors to
prevailing social norms, customs, rituals, dress, language,
and patterns of interaction. In a relatively short amount
of time, high self-monitors can seamlessly blend into new
social contexts and become almost unrecognized as
high self-monitor could be an advantage for people working
in boundary spanning positions and those on the periphery of
organizations—those that interact with customers, partners,
suppliers, and clients. When it is important for
organizational members to appear similar to those they
interact with, high self-monitors have an advantage over low
self-monitors, who tend to act in a consistent manner across
all situations. Just as it is important for basketball
coaches to place players into positions where individual
strengths can benefit the team, so it is with organizational
leaders and workers.
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