A stroll through your local grocery store can start out pleasant enough, then quickly turn into an overwhelming mess. Nine varieties of apples, four different kinds of onions and varieties after varieties of flavors pile on top of each other until you’ve forgotten why you were there in the first place!
Similarly, a workplace is filled with variety. Each employee brings a unique set of experiences, perspectives and skills with them as they enter the office doors every morning. This diversity can lead to amazing opportunities for collaboration, producing finished products that are much greater than the individual parts that made it happen.
It can also lead to conflict.
Consider just a few of these common personality types you’ve likely encountered in the working world:
The Open Extrovert
“I love you all so much!”
The Crafty Creative
“Do you have that data in a graphic?”
The Yes Person
“Sure! Whatever you say!”
The Scheduler
“Was that in my calendar? Then I can’t help you.”
The Passive Aggressive Player
“I am just sooo slammed right now…”
The Workaholic
“I’ll sleep under my desk tonight; don’t worry.”
The Delegator
“I’ll get my team right on that!”
The Gossiper
“Psst! Did you hear that Dave slept under his desk last night?
Understanding each unique variety of personality and how the related communication and problem solving styles interact with each other can be key in bringing people together. If you are in the middle of a personality clash in your office, consider our top tips for powerful leadership:
Avoid knee jerk reactions
Leading a diverse team means managing different ways to communicate. In the middle of a tense situation, emotions can run high – especially if differences in personalities lead to miscommunication. Rather than tapping into frustrations, allow yourself (and the team) extra time to think through the situation at hand, as well as the personalities involved. A confrontational tone to one person could just be a helpful message to another!
Move Beyond Assumptions
Similarly, it is important to move past the generalizations described above in team situations. These titles, such as “the workaholic”, make assumptions about personality and commitment to work that may not be true for the individual. Each member of the team is multi-faceted and unique in the way they approach problems; recognize it!
Make a Variety of Communication Options Available
What works for one teammate may not work for another. In order to foster open communication between teammates, it can be helpful to provide multiple ways to share goals, concerns and feedback in a safe way. Consider utilizing a variety of settings, such as open conversations in face-to-face meetings and anonymous feedback platforms using the internet, to cater to both extroverted and introverted teammates.
Know When to Give Feedback, but Recognize When to Listen
When adversity hits the team, it is only natural to want to find a solution as quickly as possible. However, sometimes just being heard is as important as coming to a resolution. If conflict boils over, be sure to let all included parties fully address their perspectives before rushing to smooth it all over. You might just find that listening is all the leadership your team needs!
The abundance of flavors available at the grocery store can truly be overwhelming. However, if we let our choice paralysis stop us from ever making a purchase, all of that vibrant produce would simply spoil. The same is true for your team! Rather than shying away from strong personalities, embrace your diversity by recognizing unique styles and thoughtfully approaching conflict.
Do you have any tips for balancing personalities on teams? Join the conversation below!