Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Understanding Six Workplace Personalities
By Shari Frisinger
Managers have the difficult task of overseeing diverse teams in the
workplace, and finding ways for them to be as productive, creative
and efficient as possible. While this may seem like an impossible
task, especially as organizations cut back on resources and spending
in an effort to survive the recession, it is not impossible to
create harmony in a diverse environment. The key is understanding
these different office personality types, and how to motivate them
and keep them happily working together.
Each of us has our
own natural style of thinking, processing information, problem
solving and communicating. Conflict often arises when communication
appears to be at a standstill – or when someone has mis-communicated
his or her message. By learning to give the other person the
information he needs, in the manner he can process most efficiently,
you can actually increase productivity and create a more harmonious
Take a look at the
different personality types below; identify your colleagues and
direct reports, and use their personality strengths to drive results
in your organization.
tasks, goals and the bottom line. They take charge and make
decisions quickly even if they do not have all the details. Often,
they can be blunt, rude, condescending and/or sarcastic – without
realizing it. They need the freedom to explore alternative options.
They do not prefer to work beside other team members, and will do
better on their own or leading the team. They speak loudly and
confidently, so you must do the same to keep commanding drivers on
task. Have them work on individual projects, whenever possible, and
give them accolades on how they took the lead to resolve a
keep their eye on
the goal: the very high goal. They have strong egos and are not
hesitant about using it to their advantage. They are fast-paced and
get restless easily – they need a lot of variety. They also enjoy
challenges – either challenges to achieve goals or to accomplish the
‘impossible’. Debates and confrontation are an everyday part of
life. Often, they use their hands for emphasis while talking or
making a point. Assign enthusiastic adventurers to start new
projects, particular those that need kick-offs full of excitement.
Reward them with public recognition for their work, and praise them
in front of others.
quickly become frustrated with others who do not match their pace.
Optimists, they have a very outgoing, creative personality, thriving
in the company of others, especially in a fun environment.
However, their inattention to details can cause them to let things
slip through the cracks, especially when under pressure. Their need
for change has a direct effect on their leaving partially-completed
projects for others to finish. Give high energizers the chance to
lead a group meeting, particularly one for brainstorming or
motivating. Allow them to share their creative thoughts but rein
them in if their conversations go off on a tangent. Reward them with
lavish public praise on how they inspired others.
These three personality types tend to work fast – whether walking,
talking or making decisions. They need to be in control of
situations. They generally are ‘big picture’ visionaries and do not
work well with details. They have strong personalities with little
or no patience; they can quickly become irritated and verbally
annoying. They prefer being to the point and focused on the end
result. Because of this, it is not unusual for others to perceive
them as unfriendly and arrogant. They may not receive negative
feedback very well. They often take a forceful approach, either
hostile-like or extremely persuasive. Situations become all about
“them” and how weak or soft they appear to others. Black and white
thinking prevails; they always have a need to “win.” Use these
personality types to your advantage by assigning them to work on
projects that need a strong dynamic leader. Motivate them in the
workplace by giving them bottom line outcomes and let them fly!
need to be accepted
by the group. They avoid conflict and can’t understand why everyone
can’t get along. They are loyal – to their family and friends and
also to their group, to their leader and to the company. They may
have difficulty staying focused on both the big picture and the
small details. They will handle ‘feelings’ before they do business.
They are the team members that smooth over the ruffled feathers of
others. When you first approach them, engage in small talk before
focusing on the business reason for the visit or phone call.
enjoy a steady
slower pace, and are very team-focused. They need their routines,
and the status quo gives them comfort. They are low risk takers, and
will see what everyone will do first. They are flexible, and get
along well with others. They tend to shy away from conflict and
disagreements. Once you give the Dependable Stabilizers tasks to do,
you can rest assured it will be thoroughly completed by the due
date. They may not respond to a question or request immediately –
they will think it through and carefully compose their response.
Allow them this time.
work at a slower pace and prefer to work alone. Cautious by nature,
they will check, double check and recheck their figures and
conclusions. They tend to analyze and logically walk through mounds
of details, information and progressions. If there are any flaws in
a program, the Analyzing Perfectionists will uncover them and
provide appropriate resolutions. When they express emotions, they
more easily express frustration, discontent or disparagement than
happiness, excitement or praise.
These three personality types are more flexible, slower-paced and
need step-by-step processes. They seek stability and routine, and
usually are not prepared to make a decision on the spot. Their
preference is to process information in their own minds, at their
own pace. They avoid interpersonal conflict and may become
withdrawn and stubborn as their discomfort escalates. They don’t see
the need for the conversation and would prefer everyone “Just come
to work and do their job – then there would be no conflict.” Use
these personality types to your advantage by assigning them to work
on routine or inefficient detail processes or procedures. Motivate
them in the workplace by praising their consistency, accuracy and
Appreciating the differences of your team members, and the value of
their distinctions, makes for a more comfortable work environment.
Let each of them know how you value their strengths, and work with
them to use those strengths. This will have a positive impact on
your bottom line results.
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By Shari Frisinger.
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