Of the Big 5 personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability), agreeableness is the cooperative characteristic that can bond teams after a period of social distance.
As workplaces begin to transition back to more interpersonal environments, this cohesive trait may be a vital component to bringing the team back together.
Agreeable people tend to be:
- Trusting and trustworthy
With a long list of pros, and not very many negative qualities, people with a high degree of this trait can be the key to developing a more efficient and cohesive team.
Working Well with Other Traits
As a team player itself, this personality trait is a great partner with other traits.
People with combinations of agreeableness and extraversion or agreeableness and consciousness traits have been found to achieve even stronger work performances than a person with just one of these traits.
Although extraversion and agreeableness share social and friendly tendencies, for example, agreeableness focuses on people’s orientation and interactions with others, whereas extraversion is a stimuli-seeking trait.
The caring nature of agreeableness brings a more team-building and nurturing quality to extraversion. Pitfalls of agreeableness (such as risk avoidance) and extraversion (such as over-assertiveness) become more balanced when these traits are both present.
The same can be said for a combination of agreeableness and conscientious traits. Conscientious workers are efficient but may lack interpersonal sensitivity of agreeableness. The combination, one study found, increased efficiency and job performance.
The 2002 study measured job effectiveness of conscientiousness people and compared it to those who had high levels of both traits. Job performance vastly increased when both these personality traits were present.
Other Benefits of Agreeableness
As team members, agreeable people are approachable, easy to work with, and trustworthy. As team leaders, agreeable people will form teams that are dependable and perform effectively.
The altruistic and community-building nature of agreeable people, therefore, makes them highly successful in team atmospheres, such as nonprofits, as well as in caretaking roles (nurses, teachers), or production- and project-based fields.
Agreeable people are positive influences in the workplace but is important to note disagreeable people are extremely valuable in positions that must challenge the status quo or require discernment (such as investigators, inspectors, and auditors).
Not Always a Good Fit
Agreeableness has strong team-building benefits, but that doesn’t mean this trait is infallible. An agreeable personality would not be appropriate in roles where being critical is key, manipulation is rampant, or a critical eye is needed.
People with this trait also tend to be altruistic, or have an unselfish concern for others. This self-sacrificing tendency is often a great asset for the workplace, but it could lead to negative health effects (Graziano et. al. 2007).
Agreeable people may face other challenges because of their tendencies to:
- Avoid conflict
- Be easily manipulated
- Not be very competitive
- Annoy others by being overly nice
People with this social and nurturing trait may not find success is discerning roles, as mentioned above. Other careers that do not supply meaningful connections, such as computer programming, may not provide fulfilment for agreeable workers.
Reconnecting the Office
Agreeable people carry the cohesive strengths of altruism, vast interpersonal skills, and a connectedness to other traits that are effective in a variety of roles. They also carry the burden of being risk avoidant, overly nice, and they may fail to challenge the status quo.
But, as face-to-face or hybrid work experiences are surfacing again, people with this team-building and cooperative personality trait will likely find success at smoothing transitions and providing a caring and nurturing environment to return to.