Managing different personalities in the workplace

Every team is different and made up of people with contrasting personalities. Some people are detail-orientated, others are ‘big sky’ thinkers. Some are very outgoing, others are more introverted. Some need regular ‘check-ins’, others prefer minimal management. Sound familiar?

It is very likely that most teams will have a combination of personalities. And this is a good thing. There is strength in different ways of approaching and solving problems. The question is, how do we best manage these differences to ensure goals are met and teams are harmonious?

Assess and understand the make-up of your team

It is vital to understand the personality types within your team. This can be done simply with a range of profiling tools to understand work preferences and behavioral differences. Tools such as Team Management Profile (TMP) and DiSC are valuable as they can provide a comprehensive understanding of the composition of your team.

Make adjustments

Have you placed a quiet, details-orientated introvert in the middle of an open plan office, surrounded by chatty, big personalities? Will this drive them to distraction, or will it help them to further engage and build relationships?

How best can you manage a project? Have you filled the team with the people with the ‘big ideas’ but forgotten to ensure you’ve included someone more details-orientated to consider logistics?

What adjustments may need to be made for management styles? Someone who likes regular contact with a manager may need to have more face time, whereas someone who prefers to work independently may enjoy, and require less frequent catch ups.

The use of profiling tools is only the first step – the adjustments made to leadership style, office plan, project coordination, teamwork and human resource management will help ensure styles are best catered for.

Encourage a positive culture

Each team is likely to have a range of personality types but the best management option is to encourage a culture of understanding. Not everyone will work the same way and to minimise frustrations or potential clashes, help people understand and account for these differences to enable strengths to be harnessed.