Workplace Recruiting & Staffing

Workplace Personalities and How to Manage Them

By: Kaylyn McKenna
Aug 17, 2020 • 10 min read

Workplace Personalities and How to Manage Them

There are many different personalities that you will come across in the workplace. You have probably already encountered many of them. Tailoring your management style to meet the unique needs of different employees can help improve employee engagement and productivity! You’ll get the most out of your employees when you know how to communicate with them and can pick the right fit for each project.

workplace personalities

The Independent Contributor

This type of employee will be a hard worker, but you won’t see them engaging with their coworkers much. They will most likely skip office social events like happy hours or holiday parties. They will also prefer to work on individual projects rather than team projects. Try to allow these employees to work independently where possible. It’s natural to want to encourage a team atmosphere. However, managers should acknowledge that Independent Contributors will be most satisfied and productive when working solo. Some group work or collaboration is sometimes okay. However, they may find that collaborative efforts drain their energy much faster. So, try to provide a good balance.

The Disappearing Act

This is the employee that always has an excuse – and also a tendency to disappear. They’ll do the work you give them for the most part. However, they’ll make themselves scarce when they feel they are not actively needed or being watched. We all hope that our employees will let us know if they need help filling their day or don’t know what to do after finishing a project. However, most managers know that not all employees will do that. When you have a disappearing act on your team, you’ll want to check in frequently to see how their projects are going and establish agreed-upon timelines for project completion or milestones. It is not necessary to do so in an accusatory or micro-managing manner. Still, you should ensure that the employee knows you are keeping an eye on their work and productivity.

The Yes Man (or Woman)

This is the employee that will always have something favorable to say to or about management. They want to be liked and earn the favor of their superiors. They will be agreeable and hold back their own opinions if they do not align with management. Most likely, they will be active participants at staff meetings, office contests or initiatives, and volunteer themselves as needed to support management. Other employees may not respond favorably to them, and any perceived favoritism towards the Yes Man will be noted by the rest of the staff quickly. Managers need to note that the Yes Man will not be an accurate source of feedback. They will likely respond positively and hype up any new policies, suggestions, or ideas presented by management. Make sure that you are taking the pulse of the employees overall, and being open to negative responses as well.

workplace personalities

The Social Butterfly

This is the classic extroverted, talkative employee that makes friends easily with their coworkers. They will be liked by the majority of the office or workplace, but their outgoing personalities can cause them to get a bit distracted from their own work. When managing Social Butterflies, you’ll want to make sure that they’re spending the majority of their time working, rather than engaging in social conversations. Social Butterflies often get sidetracked and end up distracting their coworkers, too, by starting up non-work-related conversations. However, they will be active participants in group projects or workplace committees and can provide an excellent balance to teams with more introverted members.

Adding culture 

Social Butterflies add a lot to the culture of the office! They can act as the welcoming committee to new hires, morale boosters on stressful days, and the class clown when your team needs a laugh. Try to engage them in any new office initiatives as their support will have a ripple effect throughout the office. The other thing to look out for with the social butterfly is that they can partake in office gossip. Gossip occurs in almost all workplaces, but it can hurt morale, make other employees feel uncomfortable or harassed, and spark tension in the workplace. 

The Forward Thinker

This is the employee that has their sights set on an upward trajectory in the company. They’ll produce high-quality work, display enthusiasm, and take any opportunity to learn from those who are above them or more experienced. This may sound a bit like the Yes Man, but they are different personality types and require a different management approach. The Yes Man’s goal is to please, while the forward thinker’s goal is to learn and prove themselves.

The Workaholic

This is the employee (or often manager) that lives and breathes their job. You will often find them staying late or bringing work home. Many will even work through the weekend or on their days off. They likely do not use any sick days or take vacations often. Even if they have PTO hours accruing and piling up, they are always at work. Their loyalty to the company is unmatched, and they are high performers. It’s easy to fall into the trap of encouraging their excessive productivity or beginning to rely too much on the workaholic. This is because they’ll never turn down a project or tell you that they don’t have time.

workplace personalities

Risking burnout 

However, the risk of burnout is very high with these employees. To get the most out of any employee, you need to make sure they are coming to work well-rested and maintaining a proper work-life balance. When managing a workaholic, be on the lookout for signs of increased stress, tiredness, or lower morale. These are warning signs for burnout, and you’ll want to check-in with them to offer assistance. They may not request a day off or help with a project, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need it. Offer to have something taken off of their plate or suggest they take a long weekend.

Why Individual Personalities Matter

Understanding these individual personality types will show you how to adjust your management style to the individual employee to get the best results for that employee and the organization. Ultimately, a company and its culture are a product of the behavior and work of many individuals, so one cannot truly understand the organization without understanding the individuals. Each of these personality types has its own strengths, and it’s very healthy to have a mix of different personalities in teams and workplaces. Diverse skill-sets and perspectives are something to celebrate! Just be sure that you understand how to best manage and support each one of your team members.

Having a variety of workplace personalities can add a lot to the overall company culture! So, be sure to embrace all of the differences on your team and allow your employees to become their best selves.

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