Perspectives, Issues, Research and Practice
New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Simon L. Albrecht
Chapter 16: The Personal Side of Engagement: The Influence of Personality Factors
Cristina de Mello e Souza Wildermuth Introduction If we are truly interested in a personal connection to work, shouldn’t we measure the person instead? (Ed Gubman, 2004) We must bring the person to the engagement debate. This was the gist of the argument made by business consultant Ed Gubman (2004) in “From engagement to passion for work: the search for the missing person”. Gubman argued that current discussions on engagement involve two components: where the person works and what the person does. Additionally, organizations should start focusing on who the person is. William Kahn’s (1990) landmark study on engagement did not have a direct focus on the person. Instead, Kahn sought to understand the powerful psychological conditions that could “survive the gamut of individual differences” (p. 695). Kahn identified three such conditions: meaningfulness (the perceived “worth” of engaging at work), safety (how safe it is to be oneself at work), and availability of resources, both emotional and physical, to perform one’s duties. Kahn did, however, acknowledge that individual differences might influence the kinds of roles employees find engaging or disengaging as well as personal experiences of meaningfulness, safety, and availability of resources. Additionally, Schaufeli and Bakker (2003) described engagement as a relatively “persistent and pervasive affective–cognitive state” (p. 4). Such a longer-term conceptualization of engagement seems to suggest at least some level of connection between engagement and the makeup of the individual – the potential impact of the person on engagement. This chapter addresses the personal side of engagement. Specifically,...
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