The Meek Shall Inherit a High Performance Review

Performance Reviews If it seems to you that only those who are cocky and arrogant to get ahead, take heart! According to new performance review-based study from Baylor University, the more honesty and humility an employee may have, the higher their job performance will be rated.

But that's according to supervisor assessments, and it would be natural for them to give higher scores to employees who don't annoy them, and are not obviously gunning for their jobs. Still, it's nice to know that there is some academic proof to the conventional Biblical wisdom that "the meek shall inherit the earth."

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"Researchers already know that integrity can predict job performance and what we are saying here is that humility and honesty are also major components in that," said Dr. Wade Rowatt, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor, who helped lead the study. "This study shows that those who possess the combination of honesty and humility have better job performance. In fact, we found that humility and honesty not only correspond with job performance, but it predicted job performance above and beyond any of the other five personality traits like agreeableness and conscientiousness."

Now that's news! Who knew how far a little self-deprecation could take you? For the study's purpose, honest and humble people were defined as those who exhibit high levels of fairness, greed-avoidance, sincerity and modesty.

To measure this, the Baylor researchers, along with a business consultant, surveyed 269 employees in 25 different companies across 20 different states. Supervisors of the employees in the study then rated the job performance of each employee on 35 different job skills and described the kind of customers with whom the employee worked.

They found that those who self-reported more honesty and humility were scored significantly higher by their supervisors for their job performance.

The researchers conclude that more attention should be paid to honesty and humility in job candidates, as well as employees. Megan Johnson, a Baylor doctoral candidate who conducted the study, summarizes, "Honest and humble people could be a good fit for occupations and organizations that require special attention and care for products or clients. Narcissists, on the other hand, who generally lack humility and are exploitative and selfish, would probably be better at jobs that require self-promotion."

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell


Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want.  Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, and many other media outlets.  Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on

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Underpromise and over deliver. That is the best policy! Definitely nobody likes an employee who takes credit for more than they have contributed and who does not acknowledge or tries to hide their errors. Nice insight. So I am humble. Where is my raise?

March 06 2011 at 10:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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