How to Spot and Manage Employee Personalities

We all say that we want to be leaders but many times we forget that to be a successful manager, you must learn to adapt your leadership style to suit different types of employee personalities.

Employees have a range of behaviours ranging from normal to extreme. When confronted with these different personalities, managers sometimes aren’t quite sure how to manage this. In this article, we look at seven types of employee personalities and how best to manage them. 

The Employee Personalities

The Slackers

They can be found lingering in the break room, openly surfing the net, or parked in someone’s cubicle for a lengthy chat (which proves that slacking off can be contagious). They may find legitimate reasons to leave the office, then take time to run lengthy errands. This personality may be as a result of an under-developed work ethic and lack of good role models or they don’t just like their jobs so have trouble bringing any energy to it. 

The Space Cadets

These employee personalities frequently seem to be lost, thinking of something else except the subject matter. They make seemingly off-the-wall comments in meetings and may start discussions in the middle of a thought. They may come up with ideas that, at least on the surface, seem rather impractical. They are usually abstract thinkers who are more focused on the future than the present. 

The Power Takers

These employees tend to get into power struggles with their bosses. They often act like they’re managing you, instead of the other way around. These employee personalities would naturally take over a meeting or quickly step into the lead role on a project, brag about their accomplishments, so titles, perks, and public recognition are important to them. A strong fear of failure often lies behind this bravado.

The Loners

They are quite easy to spot. Look out for those who prefer to spend the day working on the computer and talking to no one in a little corner they carved out for themselves. They never want to attend conferences, meetings or workshops, because they look for any excuse to duck out. They don’t dislike people – they just don’t find social interaction to be a very enjoyable activity.

The Drama Queens (or Kings)

The dramatic ones thrive on excitement and attention, so spotting them is easy. A calm, peaceful workday is just not very rewarding, so they try to spice things up with dramatic pronouncements, juicy gossip, ominous rumors, personal traumas, or emotional breakdowns. When talking with others, they are expressive and animated. More subdued coworkers find the dramatic employees exhausting and try to avoid them. They thrive on emotional stimulation, regardless of whether the emotions are positive or negative.

The Challengers

Challengers are programmed to be oppositional. When presented with a proposal, suggestion, directive, or idea, they automatically point out flaws, obstacles, and potential problems. In fact, they enjoy challenging management, because they feel it establishes their independence. They resent authority and never show respect just because the person has a title. Their focus is on winning arguments, not resolving the problem. Challengers have a high need for control. 

The Clingers

The major quality of people with this personality is dependence. They like clear instructions, ongoing communication, and frequent positive reinforcement. Uncomfortable making independent decisions, because they are afraid of doing the wrong thing. Clingers are reluctant to express disagreement because they fear making others angry and losing their support. As a result, they sometimes withhold their opinions or harbor resentments that they never express. The Clinger’s main need is to feel safe.

Management Techniques

Management may differ for each personality but here’s a brief summary of tips that may aid in effectively managing employees that fall in these categories listed above:

  • Clearly define expectations in terms of results that must be accomplished.
  • Help the employee break down large projects into smaller implementation steps.
  • Set regular times for feedback and follow-up to ensure that work is on track.
  • Explain why more mundane or tedious tasks are important.
  • Provide regular feedback to encourage more concise verbal and written communications. 
  • Stress the importance of each team member to the overall organizational success.
  • Take time to understand individual ideas, as sometimes they often have benefits that are not immediately apparent.
  • Provide opportunities to be creative.

It is important to note that in any organization or sector, asides from identifying the multiple personalities within you must first define the culture and type of leadership as a step to effectively manage for success. To be categorized as a Great leader, you must actively listen, build rapport, ask questions and give constructive feedback. Communication and flexibility are key.

About Nneka Alfred

A passionate HR/Talent Acquisition Specialist with 6+ years experience cutting across Human Resources and People management, Hiring, policy formulation/compliance, Payroll Administration, Benefits/Compensation Administration, Talent/Performance Management, Recruitment/Selection, Training/Development, HR Policy and Organizational Design, Contract Negotiation, Job Costing Analysis, Progress Improvement, and Strategic Planning.

She is A divergent thinker that has demonstrated excellent skills in employee engagement, communication, strategic thinking and problem-solving.

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