The workplace is full of many things — staplers, half-full coffee cups, sticky notes that people sort of use — but it is not full of robots. Employees come in all shapes and sizes, and each has their own style and workplace personality types that they bring to work and impact how they want to be treated.

To be an effective manager, knowing the different people and personalities in your organization is essential.  

Just like knowing your own DISC (dominance influence steadiness conscientiousness), Myers Briggs type indicator, or Enneagram number, personality tests will help you understand how other team members work best with their team and what enables them to be the most productive.   

Each type requires a unique approach when it comes to leading and managing. Plus, learning your own workplace personality type will help you understand your own strengths and weaknesses. Taking a personality assessment to understand management styles and personality styles is the first step to creating a harmonious office environment.

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Types of employee personalities in the workplace

Let’s start by taking a look at the most common workplace personalities.

1. The analyst   

This is the type of person who is detail-oriented, thinks practically, and makes logical decisions. In the workplace, even with limited experience, analyst personality types (also known as logician personality types) know how to problem-solve even the most complex issues and get the results your team needs with limited effort. They’re not perfect and make mistakes like anyone, but the analyst is good at learning when they fail and surpassing expectations the next time around. 

To best manage an analyst, it’s a good idea to give them space as they work but to make sure you’re challenging them as they go along. It’s easy for analysts to become bored at work, so making sure you’re keeping them busy is essential. Analysts also make great managers and can even advance up the ladder as they grow.  

Recommended roles: Accounts, Quality Control, Business Analyst

2. The cheerleader

We all know a cheerleader. They’re the first to volunteer, the last to speak, and the most active person on the random company Slack threads. While they appear to be over-enthusiastic and opinionated, they never fail to be consistent, reliable, positive, and organized. They turn in work before it’s due and represent your company as you wish everyone else did.

They’re the model students of the business. This is why they often turn out to be great leaders. Their energetic and contagious attitude towards every part of life seeps into everything they do. If you take the time to get to know them, they will become one of your closest friends.

To best manage a cheerleader, supervise them enough — at a distance, though. They don’t need a lot of management, but you may have to step in occasionally to let them know they’re going a bit too far.

Recommended roles: Operations Manager, Marketing Manager, Sales

3. The silent tornado

Sometimes, the best ideas come from the quietest of people. The silent tornado is just that — a force of nature often overlooked in a professional atmosphere because of their quiet demeanor. Their insecurity is their biggest hurdle, as it causes them to second-guess everything they do.

But, if you give people with these workplace personality types the extra encouragement they need, the silent tornado won’t fail to excel at whatever they do. Frequently, they just need to be given their moment in the spotlight to voice their ideas and know they have the time and space to process information the way they need to.

To best manage a silent tornado, ensure they have a safe, quiet space for them to work. Give them enough freedom to work at their own pace and encourage them to share their ideas whenever possible.

Recommended roles: Creative Team Member, Field Researcher, HR

4. The hype person

When you have a hype person on your team, you know projects will always be exciting. The hype people are overly ambitious energy machines. They tend to have almost too many hobbies and, in the workplace, like having numerous projects. If their time isn’t spent on something work-related, you can bet they’re researching a topic that’s been on their mind for the past few days.

While they share some qualities with the cheerleader, they differ because the hype person tends to get distracted easily. Because they’re so full of energy, they need a bit more direction to know where they should be going and what they should be doing.

The best way to manage them is by giving them enough direction. These people are typically not suited for leadership roles since they have numerous irons in the fire at one time and prefer to be in a more fire-from-the-hip kind of role.

Recommended roles: Creative Director, Designer, Client Relations, Sales

5. The thinker

Not unlike the statue itself, the thinker spends a lot of time pondering and considering ideas while at work. Unlike the statue, though, the thinker is a great worker, with the caveat that it may take a little longer to see their results. 

Typically not the biggest talkers, the thinker likes to spend more time with data and metrics over small talk with colleagues. They might not be the go-to person for creative ideas, but their personality traits lend themselves to deep thinking and new ideas. You can bet that whatever they’re working on will be exactly what you asked for once they’re done thinking it through. 

To best manage a thinker, put them in a place where they’ll be dealing with primarily facts and figures. They easily succeed in a remote environment but also need collaboration to thrive.

Recommended roles: Development, IT, Strategic Planning

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6. The forest fire

Of all the employee personality types, this is one to be wary of. A forest fire is a talented and hard-working individual who knows precisely what they want and is willing to do anything to ensure it happens. As a result, they’re risk-takers who are more likely to not play well with others to get there, burning down bridges to move up the ranks. 

This isn’t to say that they’re not a valuable asset, though. If managed well, a forest fire can aim its intense power towards its work and produce excellent results for your business. But, be mindful that their intentions are typically self-serving in the end. Try using positive feedback when they complete tasks, communicate effectively, and bring positive energy to the team, rather than only giving negative feedback.    

To best manage a forest fire, find a way to make sure they’re interacting with those in the workplace in a positive way. They’ll typically work best independently, so give them some personal space but keep them in line and know that your business operates as a team.

Recommended roles: Purchasing Manager, Brand Rep, VP

Woman and man laughing in the office

How to encourage different personalities to work together

Once you’ve got the management thing down for different workplace personality types, you need to figure out how to promote your unique team to work together. Sometimes teams just totally mesh and are entirely in sync, while others only butt heads.  

Here are a few quick ways to encourage team members with different workplace personalities to work together.   

1. Dedicate some time to hiring

First, make sure you hire the right people by personality type to make sure they fit into the team. Successful onboarding of new hires is also essential. A cohesive team can make all the difference in productivity and employee well-being. 

2. Emphasize the team over the individual 

When tensions rise, remembering your team’s common goal can often be hard. It’s best to remind them that everyone on the team (including yourself) is working towards the same thing. A great way to do this is to be transparent with the team about the business.

Share updates on projects and congratulate the team for completing ongoing tasks. It’s also a good idea to share benchmarks with the team. This will encourage them to work together with an eye on the big picture to meet defined goals as a unit, not as individuals.

3. Play to their strengths

No one person (other than Chuck Norris) is perfect. While someone on your team might be fantastic at presentations, it doesn’t mean they should also be tasked with planning and budgeting. Use everyone for their top skills. Additionally, encourage your teammates to do the same.

If someone needs help with expensing something, direct them to someone who knows everything about it. If someone else wants to design a poster for an office party, point them toward the woman who’s great at design.

4. Understand their motivations

Every person has different things that will motivate them. For example, while someone in the office may be motivated by the need for tacos “right now”, another may be motivated by a simple desire to just do a good job. Understanding your team’s motivations is key to leading them well.

A great way to figure this out is to simply talk to them. If you have one-on-ones with your staff, ask them what they like most about their job. Try to learn what gets them out of bed every morning and what matters most to them in life.

Everyone works differently and needs different ways of interacting with the team. Be sure you’re giving them tools like Slack so that they can communicate with each other no matter where they’re working. This is especially important if you manage a remote team, as your team’s culture will be entirely digital.

5. Be ready to take action

When you put different kinds of people together, blowups are inevitable. Yes, most of them can be avoided, but just because you all do daily meditation time together doesn’t mean your team is perfect. Everyone’s management and communication styles are different, which is why we use assessments of workplace personality types to get a better understanding of how people work together. 

As a manager, you need to be ready for this to happen and give feedback when different work personalities clash. Be willing and able to step in and professionally diffuse tension. Office conflicts don’t tend to resolve themselves, so handling them the second they arise is essential.

When mediating, hear each side out as an unbiased third party. Don’t take sides, and don’t tell one or the other that they are in the right. Simply hear them out and devise a course of action for each person to take to ensure workplace peace. They don’t have to love each other; they simply need to work well together. 

Category: Workforce Management