How to Manage Differing Personality Types


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When working with a team, you’ll come across different personalities. Even the two people who exhibit quiet attributes aren’t necessarily the same. The different personalities and temperaments that make your team could result in conflict in the team. However, learning to appreciate and properly manage differing personalities can help to build a strong team.

Benefits of Having Differing Personality Types on Your Team

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could just get along? Actually, no it wouldn’t. According to human resource executives, diversity in the workplace is actually beneficial. According to Margaret Ann Neale, Professor of Organizational Behavior, conflicts in teams are what actually make teams function much more efficiently and be more innovative.

So, below are the benefits of different personality types:

  • It creates a balance of strengths and weaknesses

Having a team that includes differing personality types creates a stronger and more balanced work environment. Different personalities exhibit strengths in different areas and weaknesses in others. Having a blend of different personalities ensures that the workplace is balanced and you can leverage different strengths to fill gaps. Employees that are quieter can provide that stabilizing factor while those who are risk-takers will give the team that extra nudge it needs to try something new.

The influence of a single personality type will put a team at risk of focusing on specific tasks while overlooking others. Having a mix of personality types in the team ensures that individual strengths and weaknesses are compensated for the overall strength of the team.

  • Enhanced creativity and innovation

Peter B. Myers and Isabel Briggs Myers, authors of Gifts Differing, explain in their book that there is no single way of successfully doing things. Their well-researched theory shows that there is a multitude of ways of getting the job done. Differing personalities offer different perspectives on issues and tasks, allowing for greater diversity and more opportunities for innovation in problem solving.

Neale also points out that teams in which personalities are not differing tend to deteriorate in performance. According to Neale, these teams come to a point where all members have a viewpoint that is too similar and this diminishes their creativity and performance.

  • A greater pool of talent to tap into

Staff with creative talents can make important contributions to areas that call for creativity. However, creativity isn’t enough to see a project from start to finish. You need team members with talents in different areas including project management, data collection and analysis as well as customer relations to ensure a project is completed successfully.

Each personality type comes with a different set of talents. Having team members with diverse temperaments and personalities will make for a well-rounded team.

  • Creates a better working atmosphere

Workplace atmosphere and team morale are determined a great deal by the type of personalities present. While many people would believe that differing personalities would result in a poor working atmosphere, the opposite is true. If most of the team members are a particular personality type, it can be challenging to get them to work together. Imagine trying to get loners who prefer working as individuals working with other loners. You wouldn’t be able to achieve much.

Each personality has something they can contribute to the team. The different way they look at problems and opportunities helps to create a positive work environment for the team.

How to Manage Differing Personality Types

Managers are responsible for getting the best out of their team. According to the State of the American Manager report by Gallup, managers account for 70% of the variance in levels of employee engagement. In other words, as a manager you need to put in the effort to increase engagement in your team and ensure greater productivity.

Dealing with different personalities and temperaments can make it even more difficult to manage a team successfully. Some level of conflict is natural and should be expected with differing personalities. However, it is important to find balance to be successful. The following tips will help you in managing a team with differing personality types:

  1. Understand and appreciate personality types

Taking time to understand your own personality as well as the personalities of those on your team is the first step to successfully managing a team of differing personality types. This will require some observation.

There are various tools you can use to understand the personality types you’re working with including personality assessment tools. Do your research and understand what the different personality types respond to.

  1. Develop relationships

Build relationships with the team members. This will give you better insight into their personality types and the management style they will respond to best. Building good working relationships also help in managing any team members that wouldn’t necessarily like to be managed.

  1. Assign the right person to the right task

Different personalities present different skills and talents. Assigning a team member to a task that they are not good at will only result in further conflict and frustration. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the different personalities in your team. Use this information to assign your team members to tasks that are best suited to them. This will improve the productivity of your team.

  1. Keep the lines of communication open

Many conflicts in teams with differing personality types result from poor communication or lack of understanding amongst members of the team. It is important to ensure that your team understands that they can talk to you about any issue. This provides a sense of security for your team.

Use both group and individual meetings to ensure that your staff is up to date with the progress of projects. Allow members to raise their concerns both in private and in group meetings.

Don’t expect to close an issue in just one meeting. You may have to have several meetings to resolve it.

  1. Be prepared

Conflicts are expected in environments where differing personalities are expected to work together. You should therefore be ready for these conflicts. Don’t take anything personally. Learning about and appreciating the different personality types will help you win your team over.

  1. Use different approaches for differing personality types

Not everyone responds to one thing the same way. Not everyone will respond to a specific management style. It is therefore important to consider the different personality types and determine the best approach to engaging with them. Using different approaches is the best way to build your team members’ trust. It is easier to manage a team that trusts you.

Don’t expect managing your team to be a walk in the park. Don’t take a chance and dive in blindly. Instead, take some time to really learn about personality types and your team’s unique dynamic will increase your chances of success.

Image: Richard Stephenson

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