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Managing Different Personalities

Updated on April 30, 2014
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Managing personalities

In a perfect world, the three major personality types are occupying their ideal roles in your organization. You have done a good job recruiting workers, and those workers are in their proper place. This means worker bees performing rote, straightforward tasks; team players in a middle position executing more complex directions; and stars providing strong leadership and innovation.

As far as you can, you should try to allocate your talent accordingly. However, for whatever reason, you may need to manage people occupying a role that is not the best fit. Here are some ideas on how to do it.

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Worker bees: consistent followers, not high performers

Worker bees need to be given very clear, simple instructions and a narrow set of tasks. Complex tasks or tasks that require judgment and critical thinking must be either avoided, or simplified. You will have to do your best to make the hard decisions for them. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare before and after instructing them, and keep your communication skills honed.

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Team players: reliable, sharp but maybe too loyal

Team players are the most flexible type, which is fortunate for you. But if they are in a low-level, boring or monotonous job, their full potential is not being realized. Structure the work to make it as interesting as possible. Make them feel like they are really contributing, and let them make as many decisions on their own as possible. Regular team-building activities can help. Social activities help them feel valued, and offer them leadership opportunities (planning the activity, executing it, telling people about it, etc). Take advantage of any openings to promote your most promising team players.

Team players should not be expected to show great leadership qualities. In a pinch, they can do adequately. But over time, their leadership style is more likely to focus on preserving established norms and traditions, rather than blazing new trails. Their basic need for guidance and direction means that they will usually underperform in a leadership role. If you find yourself managing a team player in such a role, do your best to give them direction. Of course, if you are managing them, the point is almost moot because in that case they are probably not the leader.

Stars: independent, either a rebel or a leader

The star's innovative but disruptive temperament makes them the most likely type to be promoted, and also the most likely to be fired. In a job that is monotonous enough, the star may very well quit out of boredom and frustration.

Wherever possible, grant the star (who shows potential) power and decision-making authority. They may just revolutionize the way that division operates. If they are in a middle-level role, the same rule applies. They should be treated as first among equals. Channeling their energies and talents in the proper direction will help to cut down on their destructive and disruptive potential.

Keep an eye on the stars you manage. You may occasionally discover they have changed or altered your orders. They also have the potential to misdirect fellow workers behind your back. Stars often have valuable insights for how to improve things, but they need to be either monitored closely or given greater freedom and authority, depending on your priorities.

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