Core-Self Evaluations

The Link Between Core Self-Evaluations, Job Satisfaction and Performance

According to several studies emerging from a branch of industrial-organizational psychology known as Core Self-Evaluations (CSE) theory, the fundamental judgments we make about our worthiness, competence, and capabilities are directly responsible for our job satisfaction and job performance.


Core self-evaluations is the personality trait responsible for our temperament, overall wellbeing, judgment about our circumstances (e.g. how satisfied we are with our job) and a key driver of our behavior (e.g. how well we perform our job). Those with high core self-evaluations are generally positive and confident in their abilities, satisfied with their jobs and perform them extremely well. Conversely, those with low core self-evaluations lack confidence, view things negatively and aren’t as satisfied with their jobs and perform them poorly. Fortunately, core self-evaluations can be easily assessed, and in supportive environments, substantially increased. There are four personality traits that comprise core self-evaluations, and are as follows:

1. Locus of Control

Which of your employees attributes their success to their own doing, and which to forces outside their control? Internals believe they control their futures and are thus more satisfied with their work, and perform it better. Externals are more deterministic, or believe in fate and destiny. Their locus of control is external so enjoying their work and performing it well is significantly harder. Employees with an internal locus of control are happier, more empowered, and more productive. To reveal where their locus of control you can ask:

  • How often do you feel you aren’t in control of your work?
  • What determine’s what happens in your life?
  • What’s controlling the success in your career?

If the answers reveal an external locus of control then you’ll want to shift power back to your employee with some simple but very effective questioning:

  • Where did that belief come from?
  • How does that belief (that you are not causing your success) support you?
  • How would it help if you knew that you were in complete control of your success?

2. Neuroticism

Do any of your employees get anxious, angry or depressed easily? Those with a tendency to easily experience unpleasant emotions have high neuroticism and will react far more negatively to stress. Emotionally, they are less stable and far more prone to anxiety, depression and despair. Their levels of emotional intelligence (EQ) are lower, and as a result their ability to connect to others, understand and influence them is severely impaired.

Emotional intelligence is a key contributor to performance, especially for more socially oriented tasks like managing teams or motivating others. For those in leadership positions like managers and executives, the need for emotional stability is even more paramount, as they are the face of the organization and set the tone for employee morale. Fortunately, emotional intelligence is not fixed and can be elevated with some cognitive behavioral coaching. You can start by asking:

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