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Inside the personality traits of influential hotel staff

  Posted in Hotel Insights  Last updated 28/12/2020

Personality development happens to every one of us as children and is based on two primary factors – our inherited tendencies and the direct environment around us.

Some characteristics are passed down by our parents, such as our temperament, and there are many psychology studies exploring the shaping of our individual character traits – some theories more contentious than others (yes, Freud, we’re looking at you).

One of the less controversial concepts was published this year by the American Psychological Association in its periodical, aptly named, ‘Psychology Review’.

The article suggests our personalities develop around our basic needs. The author of the research, Carol Dweck, identifies three of these areas; the need to predict our world, the need to build competence to act on our world, and the need for acceptance from others.

As infants we start working on our preparation to meet these needs, seeking information that can help us learn and Dweck suggests this is how our early beliefs are evolved. We assess whether the world around us is good or bad and start to make judgements on how we need to act and respond.

Dweck also speaks to both the visible and invisible parts of our personalities – and how the two interact together. She uses conscientiousness as her example. People who are ambitious and actively pursue achievement typically do so visibly. In a workplace such as a hotel it can be strikingly obvious when someone is conscientious.

The invisible part of this trait is the individual’s belief system that backs up this desire to act competently.

The personality traits of your hotel staff are key

The personalities of your workers are crucially important to the success of your hotel and the contribution it makes to your local tourism sector – and, you guessed it, – the biggest impact here can be made on the guest experience.

Hiring individuals with the capabilities to drive positive influence should be a key deciding factor in the recruitment of hospitality workers.

A 2008 study entitled ‘Personality and Organisational Culture as Determinants of Influence’ looked at how individuals in the workplace could attain influence in the very first place.

As a society we know there are structural aspects that determine influence, such as formal authority and a person’s position in a social network. However, this particular study delves into the notion that influence can stem from some our personal characteristics too.

Hiring individuals with the capabilities to drive positive influence should be a key deciding factor in the recruitment of hospitality workers

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What are the positive characteristics of influential hotel staff?

Using a common psychology framework called ‘The Big Five’, the researchers focused on observable personality traits that can be used to predict future behaviour. It’s a framework that academics increasingly adopt when assessing organisational outcomes.

So what are the five characteristics the researchers assessed? Were they found to build influence? And should you consider them or avoid them when hiring staff at your hotel?

Characteristic #1

The researchers say that extraversion has a stronger effect on a person’s influence level, noting it to be an “energetic approach – including traits such as sociability, activity, assertiveness, and positive emotionality”. This could be perfect for your hotel.

They found that extraversion fits better in businesses where employees work together in teams, adding that extraverts should easily exceed their daily responsibilities. Extraverts should also be given extra time to engage in power-building activities such as organising team events or overseeing guest feedback programs.

Characteristic #2

Conscientiousness was found to be more influential in businesses where people work individually and in less of a team environment. Researchers said it “…implies a socially prescribed impulse that facilitates goal-directed behaviour”.

More technical roles in your hotel such as distribution manager or revenue manager could benefit from being less extraverted and more conscientiousness. However your front desk staff should be diligent too and have exceptional attention to detail when dealing with guests. Researchers concluded that in a more sociable workplace these traits are highly respected, but less influential in some more isolated departments.

Characteristic #3

This was an interesting one. Although being agreeable might boost your staff’s performance as part of a high-functioning team, the researchers concluded that such individuals “…are not motivated to attain power”.

They don’t use power assertion tactics and they’re unlikely to be strategic in their networking. But with the makeup of agreeableness commonly listed as being kind, sympathetic, cooperative, warm, and considerate, they’re not bad traits to look for when recruiting because they could be just what your hotel guests need as they relax and unwind.

Characteristic #4

Always one to give off negative connotations, the researchers found mixed evidence around neuroticism. They suggest, on the whole, that neuroticism is unrelated to building influence, but they do highlight how demonstrating this behaviour can harm an employees’ admiration and respect.

Neurotic workers at your hotel may have unstable mood swings, or worry a lot, and even become frustrated and angry fairly quickly. The researchers stated that neurotic employees use rational persuasion less frequently and in the setting of a hotel these problematic characteristics should be avoided.

Characteristic #5
Openness to experience

The researchers couldn’t determine whether being open to experience would be more valued in one business over another. Previous studies have found inconsistent effects for openness, which they describe as “…the breadth, depth, originality, and complexity of an individual’s mental and experiential life”.

In a hotel environment, hiring staff with an openness to experience is definitely a positive trait to seek out. While it might not hold influence with other staff, your guests will admire these characteristics, as many travellers look forward to new and exciting experiences during their trips.

You can read more about keeping your hotel staff happy in this free downloadable guide from SiteMinder. Take our 14-day challenge to help build a group of loyal staff who will be ambassadors for your hotel brand.

hotel staff personalities


By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of SiteMinder, the leading technology provider delivering hoteliers unbeatable revenue results. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at SiteMinder. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance and value for accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations achieve their goals.


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