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How to Manage Very Different Types of People

At times, managing a staff of varying personalities can feel a bit like conducting a song that is sung in different keys. No one seems to be on the same page, and the result is chaos and discord.

Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits all” management style that will work across the board; it’s all about learning how each team member works best and adapting your approach accordingly.

So let’s take a deeper dive into how that looks on a practical level.

Understand Each Personality Type

Before you can attempt to manage your team effectively, you need to first understand what makes them tick. This will take some time, especially if a staff member was just onboarded recently. But you can start by asking yourself some basic questions to better grasp how they operate:

  • How do they prefer to communicate? Do they send long-winded emails or will they confront you directly at your desk?
  • What motivates them?
  • What scares them or turns them off?

This is helpful to understanding what will keep your staff happy, and in turn, more productive.

Leverage Unique Skill Sets

Everyone has their own unique value to bring to the table. You just need to know how to leverage your staff’s individual skill sets so that you can put everyone in a role that they’ll naturally thrive in.

For instance, maybe you have a real extrovert on staff who will take any and all opportunities to socialize. Instead of sticking them in a cubicle and hoping they’ll quiet down eventually, put their gift of gab to work! Send them out on networking events, get them on the phone, put them in a role where they’ll be interacting with clients and doing what they love. People tend to be happiest and thrive when they’re doing what they’re good at. 

Switch Up Your Approach

Every staff member is unique, and your approach in managing each one should be just as unique. Remember, not everyone will respond to information the same way.

For instance, one person might be highly sensitive to criticism while another needs tough love to stay motivated. If you use the same blanket approach across the board, you’ll likely end up demotivating (or even offending) some staff members.

The key is to cater to the different personality types as best you can to establish a healthy working relationship based on trust. As the motivational speaker and best-selling author Simon Sinek discusses in his book Leaders Eat Last, people work best in an environment where they feel safe, an idea dating back thousands of years ago when we relied on other members of our tribes to watch over one another at night. Employees will perform at their best when they are not on edge and don’t feel threatened.

Keep Sight of the Group Dynamic

While understanding how to handle various personality types is the key to successfully managing them, you don’t want to get so focused on everyone’s unique strengths that you lose sight of the group dynamic. Because the reality is, your workers aren’t working in a bubble. They may have different needs and abilities, but they all need to be able to work together for results to happen.  So keep that group dynamic in mind when you’re pairing people up for projects, holding group meetings, making desk arrangements, etc.

The idea is not only to match people with roles they’ll be best suited for, but to understand how their skills and personalities will gel with the rest of the team. Once you have both of these pieces in place, you’ll be well on your way to running a successful team of highly motivated workers.