From detail-oriented chemists to straight-to-the-point salespeople and highly sociable group leaders to passionate idea generators, workplaces are host to a vast array of personalities. With so many dynamics to consider, what is the best way to enable you to connect across a diverse array of employee personalities and build great relationships, thus ensuring your personal and corporate success?
In order to be a transformational leader, you need to be able to navigate the challenging emotional ecology of the workplace. You have to be aware of the types of environments you thrive in, as well as the work conditions others need in order to flourish. You must be able to read diverse and often subtle messages that can help you effectively communicate and collaborate with co-workers, customers, subordinates and bosses. In short, you must learn to recognize, understand, and respond to the different personality styles found in your organization.
We will get to common workplace personalities soon, but first we need a general overview of this basic – but very complex – concept.
According to the American Psychological Association, “Personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.” Overall, our personalities are as unique as our fingerprints – no two are quite the same. Still, just as with fingerprints’ loops, whirls, and arches, there are some overarching characteristics that we can use to categorize people.
There are a large number of such categorization theories within personality psychology. One of the most prevalent personalities theories is that of the “Big Five” – that most personalities can be summarized by variations across five basic dimensions, known as OCEAN. These traits are Openness to new experiences, Concientiousness, Extroversion/introversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. A similar classification, HEXACO looks at the six factors of Honesty/Humility, Emotional control, eXtraversion, Agreeableness, Concientiousness, and Openness to new experiences.
Perhaps the most mainstream personality assessment is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which classifies personalities across dichotomies of four separate dimensions: favorite “world” (Extraversion/outer world versus Introversion/inner world); information processing (Sensing/focus on basic information taken in versus Intuition/interpretation of information and added meaning); decision-making (Thinking/consider logic or Feelings/consider people); and structure (Judging/preferring decisions versus Perceiving/staying open to new information). The DiSC profile is one of the most popular theories utilized in the business world, which divides people into four categories (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance) based on two dichotomies, outgoing/reserved and task-oriented/people-oriented.
All of these tools can reveal your own behavioral tendencies and preferences as well as provide useful insights into other people’s styles.
While officially administered personality assessments are unquestionably valuable, they can be costly and time-consuming. With a little practice and common sense, however, you can learn to quickly recognize other people’s personality types.
Want to become more attuned to behavioral styles at work? We suggest you make sure you have ACED these four main personality types: Analyzers, Conversationalists, Energizers, and Do-ers.
Analyzers are motivated to make the right decision, no matter how long it takes. Rationality directs the decision-making process; they look for information, and lots of it. They want time to make comparisons and to review all of the relevant data before making recommendations. When they do finally act, it is with confidence that their actions are based upon hard facts. They work to avoid risk through careful consideration of all available information. Their work areas are typically neatly organized and highly functional.
Analyzers tend to be restrained in the ways they communicate. They typically use limited facial or physical gestures, instead preferring to rely on verbal or written communication filled with concrete, factual information. Analyzers don’t like to be rushed, lest they miss something important. They may not always be brief, but they are direct.
Focus on the concrete, not the abstract
Adhere to preapproved schedules and procedures
Gather information and facts
Prepare to answer detailed, analytical questions, and don’t be afraid to admit when you need time to find the answer
Keep conversations on task, and generally avoid small talk
Conversationalists are relationship-driven. They focus on feelings and emotions and, as such, their communication needs revolve around relationships. Conversationalists are always monitoring the feelings of those around them, and often subconsciously adjust their own emotions accordingly. They are highly effective collaborators and coaches. To them, everything is personal, and work is ultimately about people. Their work areas are usually comfortable and filled with photos of friends and family. A welcoming dish of candy may serve as an enticement for co-workers looking to talk about work…or just to talk.
Conversationalists are very expressive; they will never use only 5 words when 20 will do, and often accentuate their points with facial and hand gestures. You always know how conversationalists are feeling – they wear their heart on their sleeve both verbally and non-verbally. If you omit the personal, they are apt to assume you are being cold and distant because you are displeased.
Be attuned to the human dimension – open with personal questions (such as “How are the kids?”) before diving in to work matters
Allow them to speak (and be sure to listen)
Make your praise personal (“Your proposal showed that you have real insight into the problem.”) and your constructive criticism impersonal (“There were a lot of grammatical mistakes in the first draft of the proposal.”)
Don’t threaten (or appear to threaten)
Provide opportunities for them to interact with others – from working collaboratively to ensuring their workspace is not isolated
For Energizers, ideas are most important. Energizers are excited by the big picture and see everything as a creative opportunity. They enjoy being on the cutting edge and relish opportunities to try new approaches at work. Energizers are often enthusiastic supporters of new ventures, and they’re quick to offer novel or innovative ways to do things differently. Their style is enthusiastic and high energy. Their work areas are often chaotic-looking to the outsider. There may be a system of organization, but only the energizers themselves understand it. Colorful and unusual decorations abound.
Energizers use a wide range of facial and physical gestures to complement their verbal, visual, and written communications. They are sometimes put off by individuals who seemingly don’t share in their enthusiasm about a particular issue. Energizers enjoy collaboration but are comfortable working independently on passion projects.
Focus on the big picture, rather than nitty-gritty details
Be optimistic and enthusiastic
Tolerate a certain degree of disorganization / “organized chaos”
Allow conversational tangents
Encourage creative expression, and allow for the opportunity to devote some time to “passion projects”
Do-ers have a strong bias for getting things done. They don’t like to be bogged down in the details—they’re interested in the bottom line. Do-ers expect clear, direct information without needless clutter. They can be effective delegators when the trust others to get the job done, and they expect as much out of others as they expect of themselves. They are results-driven and competitive in all things. Personal accolades (awards, citations, trophies, certificates, etc.) are often prominently displayed in their workspaces, which are otherwise functionally organized with everything in its place.
Because Do-ers are acutely sensitive to time and speed, they are sometimes perceived as impatient and impulsive. They speak directly and to the point—and they expect others to do the same. They do not have much patience for tangents, detailed explanations, or idle chitchat. Do-ers are able to find competition in any activity they undertake, and they always expect and actively seek to win.
Get to the point – give them the final destination, not the journey you took to arrive there
Control your emotions and don’t take feedback personally
Be prepared and know what your conversational goal is going in
Find ways to motivate them through competition (at Ropella, we have monthly recruiting contests including Most Calls and Most Candidates Submitted, and the winners get to display trophies on their desks for the next month)
When giving feedback, focus on facts and results
Work with Style
By being able to identify a co-worker’s or boss’s preferred way of interacting, you can effectively modify your own style to best match his or her needs. When you understand, for example, that your boss is a Do-er, you can simply cut to the chase. Such knowledge is extremely helpful, especially if you’re an Analyzer who may otherwise delve deep into the background information that’s important to you (but will only irritate them). By identifying your own style, you can also be open with others in asking for the type of interaction you need. “Hey, Bob, I get that you’re a Do-er, but I’m more of an Analyzer. I know you’re busy, but do you have a few minutes to take me through your logic on this idea so I can understand it better?”
When you form better working relationships, it leads to positive outcomes including increased job satisfaction, more recognition, and an even greater chance of advancement. As such, when the outcome is important, focus on the best way to interact with each individual on your team. It will allow you to maximize your working relationships and ensure your career success.
Which ACED personality type do you most identify with? Let us know in the comments! (Ropella CEO Patrick Ropella is a Do-er.) Then share this article with your network of ACED executives.
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