Snow White’s Workplace Guide to Personalities

October 19th, 2010 | Workplace Resources | No Comments »

Neglect to consider personality in the office, and you might easily end up with a team that resembles a bigger, badder version of the seven dwarfs. And they probably aren’t whistling while they work. Trying to manage a team like that, even for a little while, will make that shiny red apple look ever more tempting. But before you reach into that basket of apples, take a second to realize that there’s another way.

We, as humans, are obsessed with the topic of personalities. How are they created, why are they different, what factors are involved, how do we define different personalities? There are innumerable personality tests and theories out there trying to answer these questions. But no matter the answers, it’s an undeniable fact that personalities, in the workplace especially, deserve considerable attention.

Why all this attention? Because while skills, talent, and experience are key, they aren’t always enough. Personality traits and characteristics define the way we communicate and interact, the way we work, our motivation and influences, and more. Often, personality differences lead to conflicts and anxieties that, in the workplace, lead to lost productivity and morale.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman claims that less than a quarter of work performance can be attributed to IQ. Of the remaining three fourths, Goleman reports that a significant portion can be credited to EI, or Emotional Intelligence. In a nutshell, EI is the ability to perceive, understand, and adapt to your own and others’ emotions. The higher your EI, the easier it becomes to manage and interact with different personalities, and ultimately, the more cohesive and efficient your team becomes.

There are a variety of ways you can increase your EI in order to more smoothly run your office. The most important thing to realize is that it’s easier to understand and be understood by others if you first take the time to reflect upon and determine your own personality traits. As I mentioned before, there are an infinite number of resources to help you understand more about personalities. You may want to consider administering a personality test to your team and holding an open discussion about the results and how they affect everyone in the office.

A word of caution: The biggest concern about personality testing is consequent pigeonholing. Once you know and believe something about yourself or others, it’s easy to limit yourself or them to the constraints of that definition, believing you or they can’t be or do anything else. Don’t fall into that trap! Defining traits and characteristics is practical and interesting, but it is not the be-all, end-all of a person. Stay flexible and open-minded. You’ll soon see that understanding each other’s personalities can make a huge impact on the work performance and morale of your team.

A Quick Guide to Personality Types

Here at Ashley Ellis, we are big fans of personality testing and fully believe that understanding each other in this way helps our office run smoothly. We use a test that defines each employee according to one of the personality types below.

Out of the following types, each person has one “dominant” trait and one “secondary” trait, so there will be overlap, but preferred characteristics will usually fall into one specific category. Which ones define you and your team members? Can knowing this help your team communicate better and work more efficiently?

Choleric Personality: Someone who is direct, exudes confidence, is goal oriented, is demanding and easily bored, makes decisions quickly, is impatient, takes action, and is determined. With Choleric people, be direct and logical, and don’t waste their time, show lack of confidence, or force building a relationship.

Sanguine Personality: Someone who is enthusiastic and entertaining, likes to talk, is disorganized, listens poorly, is forgetful, is sociable, looks great on the surface, and is persuasive. With Sanguine people, be warm and friendly, and listen well to them. Don’t give them too many details or make them sit for long periods of time.

Melancholy Personality: Someone who is analytical, is a perfectionist, is organized, is serious, is schedule oriented, untrusting, and economical, likes figures, and is a problem solver. With Melancholy people, be specific and logical with a big picture mentality, but don’t rush their decisions or interrupt them. Don’t act too excited or get too personal.

Phlegmatic Personality: Someone who is passive and quiet, is indecisive, is agreeable and loyal, likes routine, is patient, resents being pushed, and is accommodating. With Phlegmatic people, be personal and clear, and ask questions that get to the root of what they’re thinking. Don’t expect them to make quick decisions or get excited. Don’t suddenly change things.

Clare Webster – Marketing Director at Ashley Ellis