Traits are the regular patterns of preferred behaviour, emotion and thought that are stable and consistent over time. Where traits are observable (as opposed to underlying) in both individuals and organisations, they are measurable using psychometric tools.
So for example, when profiling an individual a trait-based tool might highlight that someone was extroverted or introverted, whereas when profiling an organisation a trait-based tool might profile that the company is competitive or collaborative – the key word used here is ‘type’.
And because many organisational traits are part of the DNA of that organisation setting out to change them is an extraordinarily complicated thing to do. The word often used in this context is ‘culture’.
Human behaviour is defined as what people say or do, or don’t say or don’t do. It is very directly observable and is constantly chopping and changing in reaction to different circumstances.
This means that behaviour can be malleable and amenable to a process of change, both individually and collectively, although some behaviours can be relatively consistent over time, particularly when they are linked to personal values or belief systems.
And of course human behaviour also changes over time – whether individually or collectively, the behaviours that worked best during the less mature phases of business or personal lives are different to those that work best during the mature phases.
Sometimes this behavioural change can be perceived as positive and sometimes negative – for example the human approach to risk changes over time and individual or organisational risk taking might shift from optimistic to caution to adversity.