The Big Five personality theory or the OCEAN personality model refers to five different character traits or dimensions that can offer valuable insight into an individual’s personality. OCEAN is an acronym that stands for these five primary traits—openness to experience (O), conscientiousness (C), extraversion (E), agreeableness (A) and neuroticism (N). An individual’s personality is a combination of varying degrees of these five distinct factors.

The C of OCEAN, conscientiousness, is an important and beneficial trait to have to navigate the many challenges of the professional world. The University of Minnesota recently published a study that found conscientiousness as the one personality trait that best defines work-related success. From being a high-performer to maintaining a healthy work-life balance, conscientious people have been found to lead happier lives overall.

Let’s explore the meaning of conscientiousness, some defining traits of the conscientiousness personality, and a few examples of conscientiousness in the workplace.

  1. Conscientiousness Meaning

  2. Conscientiousness Personality Traits

  3. Examples Of Conscientiousness In The Workplace

  4. Set Yourself Up For Success


Conscientiousness Meaning

Conscientiousness refers to the quality of wanting to do one’s work properly with care. In other words, judiciously executing one’s responsibilities with diligence is the meaning of conscientiousness. A self-conscientious person takes their duties seriously and swears by discipline and order. They display a lot of self-control in their everyday lives and are prepared to forgo short-term pleasures to pursue long-term objectives.

Conscientiousness is measured on a scale, with people ranking high, moderate or low on the continuum. A person with high conscientiousness is a meticulous planner who not only has their days and tasks planned to the last detail but also strictly abides by their set routine. These forward-thinking individuals are guided by their goals in life and work hard to achieve them. Conscientious people are rarely seen taking risks or doing something impulsive. Low conscientiousness in a person, however, makes them likely to indulge in risky behavior and act on impulses. Such people are easy-going and laid back and feel restricted by rules, regulations and routines. Because of their relaxed and carefree attitude, they’re often viewed as erratic, unpredictable and inconsistent. Doctors, business executives and politicians usually rank high on the conscientiousness scale.


Conscientiousness Personality Traits

The meaning of conscientiousness is to plan ahead, work hard and follow through on promises. Self-efficacy is also a defining trait of conscientious people, who believe they have what it takes to successfully complete their endeavors and reach their goals. The sky’s the limit for them. Let’s look at a few common conscientiousness personality traits:

  1. Organized

    Being organized, orderly and neat comes naturally to a self-conscientious person. Conscientious people thrive with elaborate to-do lists, routines and planned schedules and like to adhere to structure while completing tasks. They declutter their workspaces frequently to maximize productivity, keep their homes and surroundings tidy and are sticklers for punctuality. Low conscientiousness in a person makes them disorganized, absent-minded and less likely to follow a structured approach to life.

  2. Self-Disciplined

    Self-discipline is a significant conscientiousness personality trait. People with high conscientiousness are extremely self-disciplined—they’re able to resist or steer clear of temptations. They can stay focused on a task at hand even in a disruptive environment rife with major distractions. A self-conscientious person knows how to set boundaries and persevere in the face of a challenge. On the other hand, people with low conscientiousness are easily distracted and struggle to complete difficult tasks that require tenacity and diligence.

  3. Responsible

    Another prominent conscientiousness personality trait is responsibility and a sense of duty. A person with a conscientiousness personality is reliable, dependable and unwavering in their commitments. They carry out their duties to the best of their abilities, keep their word and don’t hesitate to say no to something beyond their radar. A self-conscientious person will also hold themselves accountable for their actions, own up to their mistakes and take active steps to fix their errors. People who rank low on conscientiousness are often perceived as unreliable and irresponsible.

  4. Vigilant

    A self-conscientious person practices constant vigilance. They deal with people carefully, tread with caution and are likely to thoroughly observe, analyze and dissect a situation before making an important decision. People with high conscientiousness will almost never act without thinking ahead and measuring the possible consequences of their actions. Low conscientiousness translates to a person’s tendency to act recklessly, take risks and make hasty decisions.

  5. Goal-Oriented

    Being ambitious and goal-oriented is a common conscientiousness personality trait. Purposeful, self-aware and hardworking, conscientious people not only set realistic goals but also strive to successfully accomplish them. Such goals can include smaller day-to-day objectives that serve to keep them on track as well as long-term missions that are intended to help them excel at both their personal and professional lives. They consistently track their progress and have a clear idea of where they want to be and how they view themselves even 10 years down the line. By contrast, a person with a low level of conscientiousness lives in the present and doesn’t set much store by the future. They’re less driven unlike people with high conscientiousness.

High conscientiousness in a person may lead to them becoming a perfectionist or a workaholic, which can eventually result in burnout. These people tend to become so absorbed in their work that they need to be pushed to lighten up and unwind from time to time. They’re also more rigid and strict about following rules. People with low conscientiousness, on the other hand, are more flexible and spontaneous—factors that make them respond well to last-minute changes in plans and unpredictable situations. Such individuals are at their best when they’re improvising, growing and learning in the process.

Examples Of Conscientiousness In The Workplace

Conscientious people are the least likely to display counterproductive behaviors at work such as bad-mouthing coworkers, abusing sick leave, theft, forgery or bullying. Now that we know the meaning of conscientiousness and are familiar with a few defining traits of the conscientious personality, let’s look at a few examples of conscientiousness in the workplace:

  • Staying away from procrastination and preferring to complete assignments much ahead of time is one of the most prominent examples of conscientiousness in the workplace. These are the people who’ve never failed to meet a deadline
  • Conscientious people are strict followers of rules and regulations. Wanting to do things by the book is among the most common examples of conscientiousness in the workplace. People with high conscientiousness will choose the tried and tested method of executing a complex work assignment rather than opting for something more innovative
  • Attention to detail is another prominent example of conscientiousness at work. A person with high conscientiousness is detail-oriented. They’re thorough, accurate and precise with their work and consistently deliver high-quality results
  • Because of their forward-thinking tendency, conscientious people are always prepared ahead of time, be it for an important meeting, a business deal or even a grueling workday. This makes them some of the most efficient workers in any organization, who are rarely caught off-guard
  • One of the other common examples of conscientiousness in the workplace is taking time to make important decisions. A person ranking high on conscientiousness deliberates their options, weighing the pros and cons of each path before arriving at a conclusion
  • A person with a conscientious personality might show micromanaging tendencies at work because of their achievement-oriented nature and strict adherence to rules. Such people are also difficult to please

People with a conscientious personality are valued in the workplace because of their ability to prioritize tasks effectively. Rarely sidetracked by distractions, these industrious individuals set great store by discipline and order. They aim to execute their jobs to perfection and are guided by a sense of duty toward their organizations, peers and team members.

Set Yourself Up For Success

Research shows conscientious people are not only more satisfied with their jobs but also more successful in their careers in the long run. Their strong work ethic, punctuality and resilience help them navigate the many challenges of the professional world. However, while high conscientiousness can definitely help you succeed in your endeavors, effective networking is also key to thriving in the workplace.

Harappa’s Expanding Networks course can be your guide to building a strong professional network. As you master networking skills that go beyond simply exchanging business cards, you’ll be able to develop constructive relationships with people around you, maintain a rapport with people in various departments and leverage connections to accomplish professional goals. Frameworks such as the Elevator Pitch will help you build and present a short, succinct introduction to yourself, while the Trust Equation will acquaint you with the factors necessary to build and maintain trustworthiness.

This business networking course will take you on an enriching learning journey on which you’ll pick up different ways of staying connected with current and former colleagues, understand the various ways to identify strengths and weaknesses in professional relationships and expand your connectivity. You’ll also learn to proactively collaborate with professionals with different needs and work styles and sustain your professional network over the years. The time is ripe. Sign up today for Harappa’s Expanding Networks course and set yourself up for success.

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