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Diversity and Demographic Characteristics
Throughout this paper I will describe and analyze to some degree, diversity, and demographic characteristics with an emphasis on the following behaviors:
· Age, as it relates to the use of technology
· Differences in skills and abilities
· Personality traits
Employee demographics, as stated by Chuang, Joshi, & Liao, (2004) "in terms of tenure, age, gender, and ethnicity has been found to predict turnover, commitment and integration, relationships with peers, altruism, organization based self-esteem and task performance." What does this mean one asks? Well, let's discover by starting with Gender.
When considering the behavior of gender according to Klenke, (2003) "Strategic decision making is affected by power which in turn serves as a major foundation of organizational politics. To deal with many situations effective conflict management is needed. How conflict is handled affects trust between the members of the organization. This process, and the decisions it involves, are affected by gender differences." Therefore, one can see the characteristic of different gender plays a role within the work environment. Let us take a closer look into gender characteristics.
Klenke (2003) continues with, "Sex role congruence means that jobs are consistent with male/female stereotyping of occupations. For example, until recently we had policeman because it was perceived as a man's work. Now we have police officers.
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"For men the path to power and leadership is straightforward: join the usual clubs, board of directors, civic associations, visible charities or national leadership groups; then leverage ties with financiers, power brokers, ranking politicians, competitor CEOs, opinion leaders, or potential venture partners to establish a power base. For women, on the other hand, access to power and executive leadership is less clearly defined and more limited."
"Research on women in management suggests that women show a greater concern for interpersonal relationships and a reliance on the rules of fairness in the exercise of power whereas men's power orientation is toward maximizing individual gains." Imagine that, an upper management relying on rules of fairness.
"Although considerable progress has been made over the past two decades in the advancement of women in organizations, in the executive suite women are still vastly underrepresented on top management team and corporate boards. " Maybe some of this is due to Harpaz and Snir's (Mar 2003) findings; "Married women worked fewer hours per week than unmarried women, while married men worked more hours per week than unmarried men."
Do these findings mean that a gender divers workforce is a healthy workforce? Or is it simply that society is growing up and embracing a realistic view of the world? Let's take a look at age as it relates to the use of technology in the workforce.
Technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few decades. The paper trails, are now email trails. As a young man entering the workforce, I quickly became aware that some of the more senior staff had not necessarily embraced email or computers in general. Believe it or not, there were employees who did not even read their email; their secretaries read it and provided the important details. Why is this? Let us look into Morris and Venkatesh s findings.
Morris and Venkatesh conducted a study in which they introduced a new software system over a five month period to 118 employees, all varying ages. "The younger workers' technology usage decisions were more strongly influenced by attitude toward using the technology. In contrast, older workers were more strongly influenced by subjective norm and perceived behavioral control, although the effect of subjective norm diminished over time. These findings were robust, even after controlling for key confounding variables identified in prior organizational behavior research (i.e., income, occupation, and education levels)." (Morris and Venkatesh, 2000)
Morris and Venkatesh, (2000) continued with, "Specifically, in the short term, most factors outlined by theory of planned behavior are significant for both younger and older workers; however, the salience of each factor varies with age. Specifically, younger workers appear to be more driven by underlying attitudinal factors whereas older workers are more motivated by social and process factors. Over the long term, the contrasts were equally striking. After 3 months of experience with the system, older workers no longer placed significant emphasis on subjective norm; that is, they were no different than younger workers in this regard. Given current theoretical perspectives, this was not surprising-as noted earlier, we only expected subjective norm to have an influence on older workers' initial decision to use technology and that subjective norm would become non-significant with increasing experience (i.e., during measurement after 3 months of use) due to internalization of normative influences. The data suggests that the internalization process occurs quickly. In fact, in this case, 3 months was long enough for internalization to take place, rendering subjective norm non-significant for both groups at that point."
So what does all this mean? Is the use of technology vs. age just an ease of use issue? Well, Morris and Venkatesh, (2000) concluded with, "Younger workers are much more likely to have been exposed to information technology at a relatively early age perhaps as early as elementary school in some cases. This is much less likely for older employees because they would have completed high school (and in many cases, college) before the personal computer was commonplace.
Now lets move onto differences in skills and abilities.
"Regardless what area a person works in, some people just produce more than others. Especially in those fields where results can easily be tracked, such as in sales, managers can see this on a daily basis. In every sales force there are two people selling the same product or service to the same clientele and one of those will out produce the other. - three or four to one. Most people in management have been frustrated and even a little bit mystified by this phenomenon." (Brown, July 2001) In sales there are many skills that one must have to outperform the competition. Sure it is about the product or service, but as Dr. Tony Alessandra (2005) states, "it is adaptability." "What it's all about is being sensitive to others. A person who truly practices adaptability is more tactful, reasonable, understanding, and nonjudgmental." (Alessandra, 2005) These skills and this ability to be adaptable can be taught, but only if the person truly wants to learn how it is done. But that is enough about sales skills, how about mathematics? If someone is good at math should he or she be an accountant, a chemist, or an engineer? What about if someone's skill is writing? Should he or she be an author or work in marketing? Each of these skills are important but it is the ability to take ones skill and apply it towards an interest.
With all this in mind, what about personality traits?
According to Bozionelos, there are five personality traits and they are: "neuroticism, extroversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness" (2004, pg. 69) Bozionelos later defines each of these traits as:
"Neuroticism encompasses characteristics that include excessive worry, pessimism, low confidence, and tendencies to experience negative emotions. Because of their tendency to interpret experiences under negative light, individuals who score high on neuroticism should be less likely to develop positive attitudes towards their work. Furthermore, due to lack of confidence and optimism, those who score high on neuroticism should be less likely to develop ambitions regarding their careers and to set performance and career goals accordingly. " (Bozionelos, 2004)
"Extroversion is characterized by sociability, assertiveness, social dominance, ambition, tendencies towards action, sensation-seeking, and the experience of positive affect. Therefore, those who report high scores on extroversion must be more likely to possess the need to occupy a central position in their work environment so they can satisfy their ambitious and domineering tendencies." (Bozionelos, 2004)
"Agreeableness is associated with altruism, friendliness and modesty, while low agreeableness includes antagonism, impression management and selfishness. Individuals tend to be involved in their work when they view work and career achievement as means for the maintenance and enhancement of their feelings of personal worth and esteem. Hence, individuals who score low on agreeableness must be more involved in their work because of their antagonistic and impression seeking nature, which must direct them towards seeking advancement and acknowledgment in their work environment; as these serve as sources of esteem. "(Bozionelos, 2004)
"Conscientiousness is associated with industriousness, perseverance, and sense of duty. Meta-analytic studies suggest that conscientiousness is the most potent and consistent correlate of job performance across all types of jobs and occupations. Hence, individuals who report high scores on conscientiousness should report more involvement in their work due to their sense of duty towards every role they assume. "(Bozionelos, 2004)
With all these differences in personality, skill, gender, and age, we need to recognize each behavior good or bad and learn to embrace the diversity each demographic brings to the "table."
Alessandra, D., (2005). 10 Ways to Improve Your Adaptability. Retrieved April 13, 2005, from http://www.alessandra.com/freeresources/adaptability_report.asp
Chuang, A., Joshi, A., Liao, H., (2004, Winter). Sticking Out Like a Sore Thumb. Employee Dissimilarity and Deviance at Work, 57(4), 969-1001. Retrieved April 11, 2005, from ProQuest database.
Bozionelos, N., (2005). The big five of personality and work involvement. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 19(1/2) 69. Retrieved April 12, 2005, from ProQuest database.
Brown, S., (2001, July). Thought-shaping for better results. New Zealand Management, 48,(6),30. Retrieved April 12, 2005, from ProQuest database.
Harpaz,I., Snir,R., (2003, March). Workaholism: Its definition and nature. Human Relations, 56,(3), 291. Retrieved April 12, 2005, from ProQuest database.
Klenke, K., (2003) Gender influences in decision-making processes in top management teams. Management Decision, 41(10), 1024. Retrieved April 12, 2005, from ProQuest database.
Morris, M., Venkatesh, V., (2000, Summer) Age differences in technology adoption decisions. Implications for a changing work force Personnel Psychology, 53(2), 375-404. Retrieved April 12, 2005, from ProQuest database.