Which workplace personalities are in your office?

Different personalities
By Eleanor O'Neill, CA Today

10 June 2016

The right mix of personalities can go a long way to ensuring a team’s success.

Every workplace is awash with a variety of character traits and individual styles. A failure to recognise and appropriately manage these different personalities can lead to clashes, misunderstandings and ultimately poor job satisfaction.

Nigel Risner is an award-winning motivational speaker and communications expert, the only one in Europe to have been named Speaker of the Year by The Academy for Chief Executives.

Speaking ahead of his ICAS-hosted event next week, he proposed that staff members should be treated as ‘internal clients’ and prioritised as a business’ most valuable commodity.

He said: “The biggest fear that I have right now is that, in every law firm, accountancy practice or professional service, 10% of staff are thinking of leaving.

“Don’t get me wrong, we need sales, we need income, we need revenue, we need fees. But try and do that without any staff.”

In his book, ‘It’s a Zoo Around Here’, Nigel likens managing various personality types to dealing with different animals in a zoo. Collaborative harmony is possible, so long as you are prepared to adapt your style for each monkey, lion, dolphin or elephant.

Knowing an employee’s preferences and ethos is key in identifying who are the greatest assets to your business.

Nigel said: “When you’re working with a team of people, are you energised or are you de-energised? Do they feel like they warm up the room or do they drain it?

“The biggest reason teams fail is normally because of one or two people in an office of 50 who don’t have the best interests of the company at heart.”

With that in mind, we identified the best ways to manage four key types of worker.

The High Achiever

Natural leaders, these people appreciate a fairly hands-off approach. You can trust them to get the job done. Give them projects to delegate and work on themselves. Praise is important but only when they would agree that they earned it.

The Team Player

These people do best in a group with their fingers in a lot of pies. Colleagues will rely on them. Make sure they feel secure in their position and don’t shuffle them around the office. They need time to build up those relationships.

The Careful Planner

Labour intensive or long-term projects should be assigned to these workers. They will check in regularly with you and won’t appreciate being put off or having deadlines changed. When giving them something to do, be as specific as possible and be ready for questions.

The Free Thinker

Creative and innovative, you can get great results from these people but be careful to reign them in. Finding the right balance between freedom to be different and restricting rapid changeability is key. Always emphasise the importance of delivering on time.


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