11 Oct Successfully Managing Personalities in the Workplace
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As a small business owner, you know how important it is to keep your team balanced. But how do you balance multiple personalities, ideas, and perspectives without it feeling like another full-time job?
Here’s a hint: annual team softball tournaments aren’t gonna’ cut it (although, by all means, keep those going).
Building a successful team of personalities in the workplace means building a successful ecosystem. It means creating a network of interconnectedness between the people who make your company what it stands for.
In other words, running a successful team means putting in the time and effort into making them successful.
Whether you’re dealing with clients, customers, or colleagues, finding this balance will not only help your business thrive, but it can assist you in your personal life as well.
Provide Support & Development Programs
American businesses spend nearly $164 billion each year on employee development programs. Why?
Because in order to build a thriving work environment, you need to start off with a solid foundation. In the case of your startup, this is going to mean investing in some organizational support and professional development.
Think of this training as your supporting beams. It will not only allow you to boost productivity by up to 250%, but it can build great relationships between the people in your company.
Training can be well worth the investment. The key is to do it right. Follow these tips to develop a training program that will have the most impact:
1. Mentoring Opportunities
No matter the size of your team, it’s important that more seasoned employees interact with newer employees on a day-to-day basis—both to teach and learn from them. Encouraging this exchange of ideas and interactions will bring a fresh perspective to your business, while simultaneously establishing core values and promoting team building. Your job, of course, will be to think of ways to encourage and incentivize your employees to jump onboard with the program.
2. Provide Flexible Learning Options
As with any part of life, your workplace will have people who learn in different ways. Whether they’re visual, intuitive, verbal, active, reflective, sequential, or global learners, make sure your training is versatile enough to include as many learning styles as possible. Try including slide presentations, graphs, or videos for visual learners. Or you can structure training as group discussions, where information can be experienced first-hand by active learners. Try adding a questionnaire at the end of the training, allowing those who may not have vocalized their questions during the training session.
3. Make Growth “Personal”
It sounds obvious – but it’s important that you know your employees. Knowing what motivates them, for instance, will help you tailor training opportunities. Try to make training sessions as frequent as possible (monthly or quarterly discussions) to continue moving forward with the programs you decide to implement. This also gives you a chance to check in with employees about real ways they can implement what they’ve taken away.
4. Develop People Skills
Growth. Happiness. Productivity. All three of these are increased simply by employees improving their interpersonal skills. A substantial part of career growth is based on employees having strong people skills, so developing these is essential for improving employee experience while getting the best team possible.
5. Create a Modern Working Environment
A great way to support your team is to keep things modern and flexible in the workplace. Changing around work schedules or even just the physical environment can make a huge difference in productivity. You can also offer your employees opportunities to work from home or move to unlimited vacation time, which if done well can boost your employee’s productivity and trust. For tips on how employees can be successful when working remotely, check out our post on being productive at home.
6. Offer Cultural training
Another very real aspect of training your team is for you to bring awareness and celebrate the differences of the people who work in it. Different cultures, traditions, and outlooks can create barriers between workers, but if they’re discussed and brought to the forefront, you can avoid all types of misunderstandings. Cross-cultural understanding and competence mean better understanding, communication, and teamwork. There are some pre-tailored programs, such as the ones at Diversity Resources, that can help to equip your team to be its best.
Work Alongside Each Personality (When Reasonable)
Let’s think of your team as a clock. Multiple intricate pieces, each very different, but each part is essential to your startup reaching its full potential. Having different personalities are key to your success, and it’s important to understand where they’ll thrive in your business.
Remember: the more you get to know about your employees, the stronger your team becomes.
“Hire great people, share your vision for the company, provide clear direction and expectations, then get out of the way so they can do their best work,” says Chris Licata of Blake’s All Natural Foods, “Always be available to support each person on your team but encourage autonomy, creativity, and risk-taking.”
Here are some of the personalities you’ve probably seen around the office, and how to best use their strengths.
These are the self-motivators who are used to speaking up and taking charge. Optimize the work of a Type A personality by allowing them to be driven by their own achievements and giving them opportunities to work toward goals and incentives. This personality type is also great for leadership positions.
This personality thrives in environments where they can collaborate, so take some time to work with them directly to increase their motivation. You don’t necessarily need to be supervising or hovering, but investing this individualized attention is a great way to maximize their productivity. These personalities thrive in environments where they can interact with coworkers, and they can boost your business by working directly with customers or suppliers.
These are the detail-seekers, and love to do the behind the scenes work. Trust this personality with large projects that allow them to solve complex, detailed challenges and watch them thrive. These employees are great working on their own, but make sure they know you’re available for questions and communication if they need it.
Remember: Micro-managing kills creativity and can hold your team back from taking risks. It can also cause you to have a higher turnover rate.
Find Middle Ground
While A, B, and C are some basic personality types, you can also further break down how to work well with other types of people you’ll find on your team. One of the most notable contrasting types are the extroverts and introverts. As a leader, it’s your job to facilitate ways for these personalities to find a middle ground.
Here are our tips for getting you set out on the right foot:
Extraverted employees bring energy and quick-wit to conversations. But it’s important for business owners to focus and keep meetings and interactions on point. It’s also important to realize that introverts may not be benefitting from constant high energy interactions. An excellent way to engage extroverts is for you to provide focused outlets to allow them to work in a high energy environment where they can be the most productive.
Introverts are the team members that bring thoughtfulness and focus to the team. They are often reserved (however, don’t necessarily mistake shyness for introversion), and are great independent workers.
You can work well with introverts by providing quiet spaces for them to work and recharge. This can be a separate area, even a conference room or office, where they can shut the door for some alone time. According to recent studies, the number of people who say they can’t concentrate at work has gone up 16% since 2008 and 13% say they can’t find a place to focus and be productive, if they need it. So having this space can not only increase productivity, but can also keep introverts from getting burned out.
Remember, You’re on the Same Team
Progress starts when your business truly becomes a team. It can be easy for differences in personalities in the workplace to pull team members apart, but building a space where these differences can be explored and talked about can vastly help your company culture.
A great way to get the ball rolling is for you to facilitate team building activities with your employees. These activities should be done on a consistent basis. There are three principles to creating this kind of culture, and it’s important to remember the goal is team building, and therefore you’ll want to stay away from competitive options. Try activities that focus on:
- Relationship Building
- Celebrating Success
- Practicing Team Skills
Here are some fun ideas to get the ball rolling:
Icebreakers: Two Truths and a Lie
Everyone comes up with two truths about themselves and one lie. The others have to guess what the lie is. This is a great icebreaker that lets team members get to know each other.
Mystery Pack Team Building Adventure
Tap into the abilities and talents of every team member by giving teams backpacks with supplies, with which they have to strategize how to acquire the greatest number of points for completing a series of challenges. For example, with the hidden supplies, each team must create as many types of headwear as possible within the allotted timeframe. This game encourages creativity, team building, innovation, and communication skills (just remember it shouldn’t be seen as a race).
Team Engineering: Create-A-Car
Each team will build a custom racing machine, choosing parts from a variety of materials, including cardboard, PVC pipe, and other items ( don’t forget the duct tape!). After each team puts together their car, they have to choose a “driver” and figure out how they can best propel their creation.
Working with a remote team? No problem! Follow Help Scout’s example by taking some time each week (they call theirs Friday Fika) to match team members together on a video-chat. Think of this as “water-cooler talk.” This takes about 15 minutes, so while it’s nothing crazy, it still enables their team to get to know their co-workers a little better, and feel more comfortable if they need to reach out to them in the future.
Play the Tourist
The best part about team building is that it actually doesn’t have to be elaborate. Try focusing more on getting the team together and look around your workplace for restaurants, quick stops, or fun spots where you all can hang out either for lunch retreat, a work-day retreat, or after work.
Reward Teamwork and Independent Successes
Incentives are a huge part of working with a team. And the great part is that they don’t have to be elaborate to be meaningful and engaging. It can mean something as simple as sending a handwritten note of appreciation that someone is a great team player.
Not only does rewarding and acknowledging achievements build a stronger team, but it can also help you reach your business goals.
Here are a few things to think about when you’re making this a part of your startup:
The key to being a great team leader is consistency. Make sure that you’re acknowledging team members on somewhat of a regular basis. Maybe it’s a monthly acknowledgment or a weekly shoutout, but keep in mind that if you do mass amount and then have a drought of months without compliments, you might send mixed messages to your team.
It’s important to use specific instances when you’re handing out acknowledgments. Not only does this foster an environment with clear expectations, but it also shows your team that you actually are paying attention to their efforts.
Know Your Team
It’s important for you to know your team when you’re handing out acknowledgments, as well. Baking someone peanut butter cookies might seem like a good idea…until you find out they have a peanut allergy. Make sure your team feels the love by personalizing their rewards.
You’ll also want to make sure the reward fits the bill. If your team’s been working long hours lately, rewarding them with flexible scheduling, taking them out to long for an extended break, or allowing mornings off on certain days may be more appreciated than simply having lunch catered and delivered to the office.
Whatever ways you find to motivate and help your team become stronger, it’s important to remember to be consistent and to have fun with it! Your team is an essential part of making your business a success, and inspiring them to be as excited about it as you are can make all the difference. Did we miss some teamwork tips for working with different personalities in the workplace? Post them in the comments below.