How to manage different personality types in the workplace

15 April 2024

Understanding your team's strengths and weaknesses and creating a savvy dynamic within them is essential for effective leadership. This knowledge allows you to strategically position all employees to maximise their natural abilities. By fostering self-awareness and promoting teamwork, managers can support their employees to make more informed decisions and perform better.

Here, Naomi Humber, Head of Mental Wellbeing at Bupa UK, explains the importance of identifying and influencing the unique elements of each team member to help get the most out of your business.

Research1 shows that certain personality types are often attracted to specific types of jobs.

Our research highlights that more of us are keen to explore the relationship between personalities and careers. Over the last five years, UK Google searches have seen significant growth:

  • ‘Myers briggs assessment test’ searches increased sixfold
  • 'Work personality assessment’ searches doubled
  • ‘Workplace personality test’ searches doubled

Different personality types in the workplace

As a manager, you’ll know that each employee has their own unique characteristics. Research2 has found that generally, employees can be grouped into one of four personality types:

Driver personality

Drivers are known for their ability to get things done, especially when faced with challenges. They are focused, competitive, and direct in their approach to work and interactions. Drivers prefer to cut to the chase and avoid small talk.

They are logical, technical, and value data and structure. They are not afraid to voice their opinions and enjoy a good debate. While they may not always be viewed as warm, they are highly effective at achieving their goals and driving results.

Pioneer personality

The Pioneer personality type is known for their fast, varied thinking and their preference for working in teams. They are easily distracted, make quick decisions, and are comfortable with risk. Pioneers are focused on big picture thinking and are not overly concerned with details.

They are energetic, optimistic, and enjoy collaborating with others. While they may not be the most organised, they bring positive energy to their work and are generally the least stressed of all personality types.

Pioneers are known for their ability to inspire and motivate others, but they can also be challenging to work with due to their non-traditional approach.

Integrator personality

Integrators are empathetic and attentive listeners who value tradition and harmony. They are skilled at understanding unspoken emotions and strive to avoid confrontation.

Integrators are focused on unity. They’re also driven by a sense of duty and a desire to make a difference. They are not motivated by competition or leadership.

Guardian personality

Guardians are known for their risk averse approach to work. Preferring stability, tradition, and harmony, they’re often introverted and reserved.

Guardians prefer to avoid confrontation and are focused on making decisions carefully and thoroughly. They’re not motivated by competition or leadership roles and prefer to work behind the scenes. While they may not seek the spotlight, their work is often critical to the success of a team or organisation.

Which personality type are you?

You might already have an idea of someone’s personality type by observing their interactions or email styles. Taking a personality test may indicate what style you, or those you work with, have.

It's important to remember that these tests are not always accurate – and one test can’t define your entire personality. However, these tests may offer practical insights and advice for managing different personalities.

Another thing to consider is how honestly personality tests are answered. Whether we realise it or not, most don’t answer a personality test completely honestly. We all have an idea of who we think we are, and how we want others to see us.

When filling out a personality test, you might give answers to trigger a desired outcome. For example, if you see yourself as a leader, you’ll tend to respond in a way you think a leader would. If you consider yourself to be introverted, you’ll likely lean towards the answers that are more inward facing.

Eight tips to manage different personalities

Managing different personalities can prove challenging at times, but understanding your employees individually can make a huge impact on productivity and team morale. Each personality benefits from specific coaching and guidance styles to really help them flourish.

Here are some strategies and tips to effectively manage and engage with diverse personalities at work:

  • Get to know your employees: Take the time to understand each of your employees’ personalities, strengths and weaknesses. This will help you determine which personality type they fit under. Some employers use a test, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), to gain insights into their employees' personalities and behaviours.
  • Adapt your leadership style: Be flexible in your leadership approach to adapt to the different individual working styles and their methods of communication.
  • Build relationships: Make time to talk to your employees individually in work and after work at team socials to get to know about their personal lives and career goals.
  • Prioritise shared goals: Highlight common objectives to connect the team and reduce potential conflicts arising from differing personalities. .
  • Embrace differences: Encourage an inclusive and diverse work culture that values the unique strengths and perspectives of everyone. This can lead to increased innovation and productivity. .
  • Avoid negative labelling: Be mindful of negative labelling when interacting with individuals who have different communication or behavioural traits. Focus on understanding and appreciating their strengths and differences. .
  • Be flexible with communication: Adapt your communication style to suit the preferences of the team as a collective. Being flexible in how you communicate can help bridge gaps between different personality types. .
  • Involve employees in decision-making: Create an environment where your employees’ opinions are valued, seeking their input can be advantageous. .

Just as no two people are the same, work styles can vary greatly. By applying these strategies, leaders can effectively manage different personality types in the workplace, leading to a more harmonious, productive, and inclusive work environment.



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