You will encounter many different types of people during your management career. If you are managing a group of around 20 or less, you really should be able to get a feel for each individual’s personality. Even if you manage a group of 100, you should still be able to know the key players personalities. It helps when you know what makes each one of them tick, especially when communicating one-on-one. When dealing with different personalities, be tolerant of styles different from your own. Always try to adapt to their personality to get your point across, or to get more out of them.
You can’t use a cookie cutter approach with every employee. In most cases, you will need to change your communication approach with each individual. For example, you will not get your point across if your too direct and data oriented with a touchy-feely kind of person. In the same token, you would not want to be too touchy-feely with a no-nonsense type of person. This is also important when delegating any projects to individuals or as 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. Here are some ways to deal with different personality traits:
- The “Considerate” are nice, 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 usually the work is more complete with fewer errors. Let them know calmly, yet directly, what you need from them. However, also spend some time to talk about family and other non-work related topics. This would be a good person to do long-term detailed oriented type of projects. Give a lot of encouragement and praise to get the most out of this type of personality.
- The “Aggressive” likes 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 and a while you need to make sure they know whose boss. Be direct, 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 “Analyst” will always try to find flaws in the system. They will also play devils 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, but most of the time it’s just someone being too critical. They tend to procrastinate when making decisions. Listen to what they have to say, but if you feel it is going nowhere, take their suggestions and move quickly onto the next subject. This would be a good person to give projects like finding possible trouble producing trends that requires 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” takes 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. This would be a good person to give projects that are more “touchy-feely.”
- The “Talkative” tend to be more feelings oriented and will show more emotion, whether positive or negative. They have a strong interest about people and are usually the “social butterfly” of the department. They usually like making decisions but want conformation just in case. Try using a lightened-up approach and some humor to get your point across to this type of personality. This would be a good person to help plan social events or any projects that require some animated personality.
- The “Brainiac” will use knowledge and sarcasm to get what they want. They will try and dance around the basic topic. They will also dance around making any type of decision. Make sure you keep this person on track as they can lose focus on the task at hand very easily. If needed, make them repeat themselves in terms everyone can understand. This would be a good person to give the projects that are more “data-oriented.”
- The “Quiet” is one who very rarely talks at meetings, seems to have low self-esteem, and is continually sub-conscious of their actions. Not only should you try to bring this person out of their shell, they just might have some brilliant ideas that you can incorporate. There can be power in the quiet person as they might be the ones with the most compelling ideas. We tend to give our attention to the commanding personalities and ignore the quiet and soft-spoken. On the contrary, the quiet people are the ones you need to seek out.
- The “Results-Driven” tend to focus solely on targeted metrics but sometimes lose focus on the big picture. They feel like they are doing a great job because of meeting an important goal, however, they are doing a poor job on another aspect of the job. You need to get your point across by being direct. You have to stress the importance of the big picture and to use common sense. For example, this is the type of person who will stop troubleshooting a problem, even if they are close to fixing it, because they went over the average call handle time. This person is usually more suited for simple straightforward tasks that do not require thinking outside of the box.
- The “Loner” just wants to do the job and not get involved with company picnics, break room conversations, or any non-work related subjects. They do not like any interaction with fellow employees. You should talk to them about the importance and reasoning of the team approach. It is to their benefit if the team exceeds, not only for job security, but also for any possible rewards you have in place. With open and honest communication, you should be able to get them to understand and work as a team member. This does not mean they have to be everyone’s best friend; they just need to be supportive and reliable. The problem with a person who does not want to be part of a team usually ends up not fully understanding the expectations of the group, and will have the type of excuse like, “Nobody told me…” or “I did not know I was supposed to do that…” etc. This person might be a diamond in the rough and if they just do not fit in to the current team, see if there is another position that would be better suited for them. This might look like you are rewarding someone because of a personality issue, so be careful how you handle this as it could create conflict amongst your team. You, and most likely HR, will have to determine the outcome of such a move. Still continue to try to get this person out of their shell, and try to give them projects that do not demand a team effort.
- The “Overly-Confident” feels like they know everything and can do no wrong. Sometimes they act confident 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. Make them repeat exactly what it is they are supposed to be doing. Give them projects that can easily be tracked to make sure they are not headed in the wrong direction.
- The “Curmudgeon” thinks of everyone but themself as incompetent, and does not take supervision well. They tend to be grumpy and sarcastic. They have a pessimistic “glass is half-empty” point of view. You do not want to approach this type of person with your tail between your legs. State the facts and let them know exactly what is expected of them. Use a matter of fact approach and try to give them projects that do not demand too much creativity or touchy-feely.
- The “Mean-Spirited” makes it known that they are not happy with work or the people around them. In many cases it is due to problems that are not work related. If you feel that it is affecting employee morale, you should talk to this person and make sure they understand that you need a department that works in harmony. That the goal is to a have everyone work in a pleasant atmosphere in which there are no personality conflicts.
- The “Bad Attitude” is a major problem. You need to let this person know that their attitude is affecting morale and is unacceptable. See lesson 5 for ways on how to handle this type of difficult employee.