Curating a team of would-be champions in the workplace is like trying to put together a 1000-piece miniature puzzle; it is difficult, takes time and is a challenge you can’t turn away from until it’s complete. The workplace puzzle, however, is never complete. When one vital piece is lost, another takes its place … and it’s never the same fit.
Different personalities in the workplace is an advantage, but managing a range of psyches, emotions and needs provides serious challenges.
A Forbes article recently written by IdeaFaktory founder Steve Faktor broke workplace personality types into nine categories:
· Bambi – the doe-eyed new recruit.
· The believer – those who will wear the company shirt.
· The Alpha – the dominant personalities who are full of ambition.
· The Survivor – the non-risk taker who quietly rises through the ranks or moves sideways.
· The Soldier – the team player who plugs holes.
· The Pragmatist – pragmatic or sceptical? You’ll have to find that out for your self.
· The natural – talented and effective, but best when values align.
· The heretic – four personalities in one.
· The Toiler – the toiler speaks for himself.
Faktor has neatly packaged these. Of course putting neat little labels on people is like telling someone that War and Peace can be read in a day.
Faktor does say that in any one person a mix of personality types exists, for instance a ‘natural alpha’ or a ‘pragmatic soldier’. You could probably come up with any number of combinations and that is what makes the workplace so interesting.
Bringing out the best in your employees
With so many different personality types, you’d be forgiven for thinking that to get the best out of each person you need to treat them differently. It’s not the case. The difference between a successful and an unsuccessful workplace is simply engagement.
I recently worked with Chase Performance CEO Mark Pope to craft an article about staff engagement, or more to the point preventing staff disengagement.
Mark says, “I regularly ask employee groups if they have any ideas about how to improve the business they operate in. Typically, 90% raise their hands. And although that 90% doesn’t always generate million dollar ideas, they often produce one hundred smaller ideas that may yield bottom line value while demonstrating greater ownership of their roles.”
Pope cites a study undertaken by the Harvard Business Review, July 2013, which found that engagement creates an increase of up to 22% in productivity and a 41% increase in quality.
Meanwhile, disengagement creates staff turnover.
Back to Faktor, he references Stan Slap who says, “Most companies misperceive intellectual engagement for emotional engagement. It’s the emotional engagement that’s critical.”
Don’t dismiss different personality types
Let’s simplify personality for a moment and for the sake of discussion use a couple of labels (I know what I wrote earlier!): introvert and extrovert.
It used to be that the louder types would take all the glory, be the first to be noticed and be the loudest voice in the room. While they may still be the loudest voice. Today, there is a subtle shift that recognises the value of the introvert in the workplace.
A very articulate article written by Atlanta-based international speaker Jennifer Kahnweiler gives credence to the point. Kahnweiler, whose clients include GE, AT&T and NASA says that the rise of the quiet influencer may just be the future face of business. In an article titled Rise of the Introverts: leverage your quiet influenceshe explains that, “People often think that a big, vibrant, personality is needed to succeed in the business world, but that simply is not true. It is often the quiet ones who have the loudest minds.”
On her website she says she has also learned “from introverted quiet influencers that spreading ideas is a critical part of the thought collaboration equation. We share new findings, challenge each other’s ideas and we all become better informed and knowledgeable.”
Again, that comes down to engagement.
It is important not to dismiss the introvert. They may be the ones standing nearest the exit, trying to find a way out of their current situation, but when fully engaged they can offer insights and ideas that may be the difference between business growth or stagnation.
All personality types have strengths and one should never be dismissed over another. Whether you have employees who are introverts, extroverts, alphas, Bambis or those who look like George Clooney, but act like Lewis from Revenge of the Nerds, you need to provide them with the same opportunities, because the personality puzzle is a work of art and when you get that right, business is likely to boom.
Engage, grow and flourish: it’s a great motto to run your business by.
Jonathan Jackson is an experienced editor and writer who has worked in print and digital media for almost 20 years.
Jonathan has edited titles across a range of industries including sports and lifestyle, health, trade and business and finance. Among these titles are Soccer International, Women’s Fitness and Health, Wealth Creator, Think & Grow Rich, Your Trading Edge and Business First of which he is currently the managing editor.
Jonathan has also written two books: Offside - The Wild Side of Soccer and Australia's Wealth Creators.
He is the Media and Content Manager for Marketing Eye.
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