Both within and outside the world of work, whenever a group of people come together, no matter how many interests, likes and dislikes, or background, history, upbringing or culture they share, their many differences are certain to become apparent sooner or later.

Understanding different personalities at work is key to effective leadership and creating high-performing teams who are aligned and connected.

In this blog we’ll explore the importance of tackling this essential management skill, the challenges involved in managing different personalities, and actionable ways to help you develop a greater understanding of your individual team members and lead them to achieve departmental and organisational goals.

Alternatively, scroll to the bottom to discover the free webinar I run on understanding and managing different personalities, or click the button below to learn more and secure your place. 

The Benefits of Effectively Understanding & Managing Different Personalities?

Understanding different personalities at work can help you to create a team that respects each other, plays to each other’s strengths, and uses their differences as a way to problem solve and innovate.

It creates a culture of understanding rather than frustration, and leads to greater collaboration, enhanced performance and innovation, and better business outcomes; benefiting individuals, the department, and the organisation as a whole.

The Complexities of Managing Different Personalities

Understanding different personalities at work can present a number of complex challenges:

1) Communication styles and preferences – Different members of your team will have preferred communication styles. For example, some employees will enjoy clear and direct communication, while others will find this style too abrupt and need a warmer approach. Similarly, some prefer lots of detail delivered by email, while others would rather receive a brief, direct communication that is sensitive to the value they place on their time. 

2) Conflict resolution – Some members of your team will be inclined to avoid conflict altogether, leading to festering animosity. At the other extreme, other employees may be more comfortable to tackle issues that arise, and as a result may be perceived as aggressive or insensitive.

3) Work ethic and pace – Employees will have varying work ethics and different paces at which they work. A person’s motivation is a key consideration when understanding different personalities at work. Motivation can be affected by a host of different factors, including personal stresses, and a person’s motivation or lack of, can negatively impact their perceived work ethic and productivity.

4) Emotional sensitivity – Different employees will respond differently to praise and criticism, and are all likely to have differing stress responses. For example, when I’m stressed, I flap around and can’t concentrate. My husband, on the other hand, responds to stress by closing the door to his office and playing some loud music to regain his focus. How employees handle praise, criticism and stress are 3 essential factors to take into account when trying to understand and manage different personalities, to ensure your people are not pushed too far.

Turning These Complexities Into Actions That Lead to Understanding Different Personalities At Work

To navigate these challenges and complexities and begin understanding different personalities at work:

1) Conduct regular check-ins to understand the concerns of your people and provide support. You can also encourage an open door policy to help employees feel comfortable in sharing their thoughts and concerns.

2) Develop your understanding of how your people think, to develop better relationships, and more strategically position them in the team to support their natural modes of thinking.

3) Support your team to understand themselves, each other, and to freely communicate both their strengths and the areas where the team will need to come together to provide support and plug individual skills gaps. If employees join their leaders in understanding different personalities at work, you can build a culture that encourages differences and uses differences to drive the team, department and organisation towards its goals.

4) Explore personalised praise that acknowledges the strengths, efforts and achievements of each individual. I recommend this book by Gary Chapman and Paul White to help you understand how best to empower people with differing motivations and personalities.

5) Create a psychologically safe environment where employees feel free to try (and perhaps fail), to ask for help, to have autonomy, and importantly, be themselves, without fear of judgement or retribution.

6) Learn about the stressors of those in your team, minimise the potential for these events to occur, and consider how they respond to stress to identify how each individual should be interacted with when stress is high.

7) Consider using personality tests as a way to start conversations in this area and gather relevant insights.

How Can Understanding Different Personalities At Work Transform Roadblocks into Opportunities for Innovation?

Roadblocks and challenges are inevitable, in every team.

However, by building a growth mindset across your team, you can lay the foundations on which understanding different personalities at work can create a culture where differences are seen as positive, and frustrations arising from these differences can be used as opportunities to look for lessons and learning.

Similarly, creating a culture of psychological safety (the centre point of much of my training and facilitation) where employees have the freedom to be authentic, honest, and to speak freely without fear of judgement and blame, can lead to addressing challenges in an effective and appropriate way.

The Managing Different Personalities Webinar

My free “Managing Different Personalities” webinar, on July 3rd, ran in collaboration with WISH (Women In Social Housing), is a 1-hour lunch and learn session for both experienced and emerging leaders.

This immersive webinar will provide you with a comprehensive guide to help unravel the complexities of leadership, and overcome frustrations associated with managing different personalities.

Secure your free place today to explore the nuances of understanding different personalities at work, and the practical techniques for addressing and overcoming common frustrations that can hinder the motivation of your team.

You’ll leave with actionable insights to begin celebrating the diversity of thinking within your team, and transforming potential roadblocks into opportunities for innovation and collaboration.

Join me, and a selection of fellow leaders from across the UK, for an hour filled with strategies to inspire, engage, and overcome frustrations.

Secure your free place today.