NEWSLETTER | WOMEN IN MOTION
Different Personalities in the Workplace
Learning to manage a variety of personalities in the workplace is critical to managerial or even career success. It does not require that one be a trained psychologist to manage or understand the various ‘personalities’. What is important is managing the different personalities in the workplace by identifying a few common characteristics of personality types. Dealing with conflicts between employee personalities can be tricky for anyone. As a manager, one of your directives is to become the arbitrator amongst your employees.
Whether you are managing a group of 20 or 100 employees, you really should be able to obtain an understanding of each individual’s personality. It helps when you know what makes each one of them tick, especially when communicating one on one. Here are some ways to deal with different personality traits:
by Shalane van Rensburg
The ‘Considerate Ones’ are people who are nice and calm and like to think things through. They usually have an optimistic, ‘glass half-full’ point of view. They are agreeable, but might take a bit longer than others to get the work done. They might need some help in making decisions. The good news is that, usually, the work is complete with fewer errors. Spend some time to talk to them about family and other nonwork-related topics. This would be a good person to do long-term, detail-oriented types of projects.
The ‘Aggressive Ones’ like to take control and do things quickly. They are not afraid to make decisions. They are usually good at what they do, and know it. Just make sure they do not try and control you. They can produce a lot of good work for you, but, every once in a while, you need to make sure they know who’s the boss. Be direct and straightforward, and use a no-nonsense approach to business. This would be a good person to use to put out any fires that need immediate attention. Make sure you give this person a lot of praise when praise is due. If you don’t, they will be upset.
The ‘Analysts’ enjoy the role of devil’s advocate. If you say, “Do this,” they will say, “Why don’t we do it like that?” Sometimes, it’s a good thing, because there might indeed be a better solution. They tend to procrastinate when making decisions. Listen to what they have to say, but, if you feel the conversation is going nowhere, note their suggestions and move quickly onto the next subject. This would be a good person to give projects to like finding possible trouble-producing trends that require deep analytical investigation. This is more of a ‘just the facts’ type of person. Don’t waste either of your time to chat about subjects of little importance.
The ‘Sensitive Ones’ take any type of confrontation too personally. They do as they are told, but do not like making decisions. They are usually very nice and pleasant, but their feelings get hurt too easily. Try not to be too direct with this type of personality. Use an encouraging type of approach when dealing with any performance-related issues.
The ‘Talkative Ones’ tend to be more feelings-oriented and will show more emotion, whether positive or negative. They have a strong interest in people and are usually the ‘social butterfly’ of the department. They usually like making decisions, but want confirmation just in case. This would be a good person to help plan social events or any projects that require some animated personality.
The ‘Brainiacs’ will use knowledge to get what they want. They will also dance around making any type of decision. Make sure you keep this person on track, as they can very easily lose focus on the task at hand. If need be, make them repeat themselves in terms everyone can understand. This would be a good person to give projects to that are more ‘data-oriented’.
The ‘Quiet Ones’ very rarely talks at meetings, seem to have low self-esteem, and are always subconsciously aware of their actions. You should try to bring these individuals out of their shells, for they just might have some brilliant ideas that you can incorporate. There can be power in the quiet ones, as they might be the ones with the most compelling ideas.
The ‘Results-driven Ones’ tend to focus solely on targeted metrics, but sometimes lose focus on the big picture. They believe they are doing a great job in meeting an important goal. However, they are doing a poor job in other aspects of their job. You need to get your point across by being direct. This person is usually more suited for simple, straightforward tasks that do not require thinking outside the box.
The ‘Loners’ just want to do the job and not get involved with company picnics, lunch-break conversations or any nonwork-related subjects. They mostly do not like any interactions with fellow employees. You should talk to them about the importance and reasoning of the team approach. This person might be a diamond in the rough and, if they just do not fit into the current team, see if there is another position that would be better suited for them. Those who believe that they know everything and can do no wrong are the ‘Overly Confident Ones’. Sometimes they act confidently even when they don’t know what they’re doing. You need to get your point across by being very direct. You might want to humble this person every now and then. The ‘Mean-spirited Ones’ make it known that they are not happy with work or the people around them. In many cases, this is due to problems that are not work-related. If you feel that this is affecting employee morale, you should talk to this person and make sure they understand that you need a department that works in harmony.
When dealing with different personalities, be tolerant of styles different from your own. You cannot use the ‘same old’ approach with every employee. In most cases, you will need to change your communication approach according to each individual. This is also important when delegating any projects to individuals or small teams. If a person or team is too analytical, there will be little creativity. If a person or team is too sensitive, fewer decisions will be confidently made.