Can HR unite workplace personalities?

Written by
Lucy Whitehall

12 Aug 2016

12 Aug 2016 • by Lucy Whitehall

However, if you really want to get the best out of your team, you need to know how to manage these different personality preferences. From the daydreamer to the perfectionist, or the technophobe to the analytic, everyone will have diverse working styles and respond differently to varying pressures. Whilst not everyone fits in a specific personality box, here are some tips on how you can manage the different members of your team, ensuring the best outcomes for everyone. 

1. The Analytic

In general, analytical people tend to be driven by a need for detail and information often supported by data. They will opt for logic over emotion, and will always look for rationalisation over their decisions. Their skills lie in problem solving, so they are well-suited to roles which give them the opportunity to use these skills regularly. They can add great strength to a team by providing a levelling opinion, and critically interrogating plans and ideas to ensure ideas are sound. Many analytics are very straightforward and honest, which can be refreshing in a business environment!

On the downside, such a drive for detail can make it difficult to make decisions. Sometimes analytics can lose the ability to see the ‘wood for the trees’ and want to examine all possibilities. They can also be very habitual and resistant to change, which can present teams with problems when working in a progressive environment. Analytics tend to work the least well with creatives, as they seek to solve problems quickly, while a creative person may struggle not to veer off on a tangent. Therefore, when managing teams, HR and managers need to work together to consider the personality mixes and how they fit together.



2. The Introvert

Introverts draw their energy from themselves, and therefore require time on their own for thinking, planning and reflecting. Although they may not be the most exuberant member of the team, there are many advantages to having somebody more reflective in the mix. They tend to build strong relationships within their team, and consider their words carefully, making them good diplomats.

Introverts can find meetings draining or particularly tiring, and it may be best to give them time after a meeting to think before asking for feedback (for example, after an appraisal). When it comes to managing an introvert, bear in mind that they tend to work best in the mornings, and may prefer more email contact than face-to-face conversation. They may also be unlikely to confide in you about external circumstances, so it is worth putting in extra time to get to know them so you can be aware of anything at home that may be affecting them at work. When it comes to staff socials, don’t force an introvert to attend each one, as they can find large groups tiring. In addition, they may be more productive than others working from home, in an environment where they have time and space to listen to their own thoughts without interruption. This would of course have to fit with workplace culture, but may be a good idea in order to get the best out of introverted employees and therefore boost their productivity. 

3. Day-dreamers

Most managers will have somebody in their team who is brilliant one moment and perhaps absent-minded the next. A day-dreamer’s productivity drops quickly when they are distracted, so they are well-suited to positions that ensure regular change or different challenges. Of all the personality types, day-dreamers can be the most difficult to manage, as it’s difficult to keep them on track without constantly micro-managing them.

The best way to manage this is to give them a task to work on alongside somebody with more focus, as a day-dreamer will often try to please the person they are working with, thereby increasing their motivation. Wherever possible, give them flexibility around the tasks they choose and the time of day they can work on them. The benefits of having a day-dreamer in your team include less linear thinking and more creative ideas, as they are often confident individuals who are happy to share their ideas, helping other team members to build on the stimulus.

4. Perfectionist

There are two types of perfectionist, the adaptive and the mal-adaptive. Both types show a continuous desire to improve, which is a huge benefit for themselves, those around them and the business. They also have high standards for themselves and others, meaning you can expect a consistently high level of performance. Adaptive perfectionists are positive as well. They tend to be aware of their perfectionism, as although they strive for high standards, they know where to draw the line to ensure they get the best for their clients and themselves, but without spending so much time as to be counter-productive. Mal-adaptive perfectionists, however, don’t tend to have this ‘off button’. They can struggle to find the good in their own work, or that of others, and can be highly critical. They often re-do tasks over and over again, anxious that their work isn’t good enough, causing them anxiety and placing undue pressure on those working with them. If a member of your team displays these mal-adaptive traits, it would be wise to discuss their thoughts on possible alternative ways of working.

A keen character trait is that perfectionists thrive on jobs that need attention to detail. If you have an important task that needs doing, you can be confident that a perfectionist will check all the small details and complete the task to the very best of their ability, it will be in safe hands!

5. Technophobe

Technophobes are becoming less and less common in the workplace as younger workers enter the workforce and more employees understand the benefits of technology. Technophobes may be happy to use certain technologies (e.g. a computer) but unwilling to learn how to use new types (e.g. tablets or Macbooks) unless they see a distinct advantage for themselves. The most important thing to understand when managing them is why they are worried about the new technology being implemented, and working on a strategy to help them to learn how to use it, without being patronising! Often, small changes may help. Providing a keyboard to use with a tablet may help them avoid typing on a screen, for example. Whenever you need to introduce new technology make sure you explain the end goal and how it could help them in particular. Always ask how you can best support them in getting to know the new system, and be flexible. If they have a valid reason for resisting, it may be worth considering the benefits of them sticking with their current set up.

Although you may be able to fit most members in your team into one of the boxes above, it is likely that most team members will display traits from a variety of different personalities. When managing different sets of people, it is crucial to keep an open mind. People can adapt, and move between different preferences within their personality at different stages of their life and career. Therefore, try to avoid making snap judgements. Allowing people to play to their strengths will not only lead to a happier and more motivated team, but also to a higher standard of work. Those who feel they can show their strengths off are more likely to feel valued and appreciated, leading to better outcomes for yourself and your team.