Influences on Individual Behavior in the Workplace

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  • 0:03 Behavior
  • 1:03 Biological & Demographical
  • 1:40 Intellectual &…
  • 2:45 Self-Concept & Self-Esteem
  • 3:13 Personality
  • 3:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Erin Vonderach
There are many factors that influence how an individual performs in the workplace. Learn about characteristics including demographics, ability, and personality.


Alex is a chef with a big problem: his taste buds don't work. Everything tastes the same to Alex. This problem affects behavior at work in several ways. Since he can't taste the food he cooks, it's often too salty or not salty enough. He lacks self-esteem in the kitchen, which makes him timid. He doesn't understand flavors, so he's unable to create new recipes. Alex is an extreme example of a mismatch in the workplace. His inability to taste affects his job performance, feelings about work, and interactions with his coworkers. All employees have influences on their behavior at work. Some influences lead to improved performance; others lead to weak performance.

The four main factors that influence behavior and performance are:

  1. Biographical and demographical characteristics
  2. Intellectual and physical abilities
  3. Self-concept and self-esteem
  4. Personality

Let's look at each of these in detail.

Biological & Demographical

Employees often come from a diversity of backgrounds and experiences. Biological and demographic characteristics can affect how employees perform. These characteristics include:

  • Age
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Tenure

These characteristics can affect behavior, but they also may not. Alex's age, ethnicity, and gender do not affect his ability to perform as a chef. His tenure, or the length of time he's worked at the restaurant, does. As a new employee, he's less confident with the recipes and less familiar with the kitchen. This makes him slower and less confident while at work.

Intellectual & Physical Abilities

Ability plays a big role in individual behavior at work. Intellectual ability refers to an individual's ability to learn new things and make connections. It also refers to skill level at the profession. This doesn't mean that all straight-A students are top performers. Intellectual ability is dependent on the job. A math whiz might be great for a bookkeeping role but weak in a writing role. A designer needs strong visual and spatial abilities but does not need to be a science genius.

Physical abilities also affect how individuals perform their job. Alex's faulty taste buds are a limitation in his job as a chef since he can't taste his food. His taste buds wouldn't matter if he worked instead as an engineer. Alex's taste buds are an example of a sensory skill. Other physical abilities include strength, stamina, flexibility, and psychomotor skills. Alex has excellent psychomotor skills, which are the fine motor skills that allow him to artfully arrange food on a plate to make it look delicious. He also has the strength and stamina to work long, tiring shifts in the kitchen.

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