As your small business has grown, you’ve probably noticed a striking difference in personalities. After all, people aren’t robots, and though you may want to, you can’t just punch in a cheat code and reprogram them. An important part of growing your business is managing more and more people. And that means getting a handle on managing personality types and tapping into individual strengths.
Identifying Personality Types
Understanding your colleagues will give you better insight into what motivates them and their working styles. You can explore this by simple observation, but for a deeper and more objective look, personality assessments are an option. Some common tools for identifying personality types are the DiSC assessment, which we use here, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®. It is worth noting here that personality is subjective, and some of these assessments face criticism from opponents.
No matter the assessment you use, understanding the traits of each person can help you better manage your team and align strengths with project goals.
While I want to be clear that I am not an expert in personality, I have noticed a few general trends along the way. In my mind, I bucket them into these four non-official groups: go-getters, supporting cast, collaborators and deliberators.
These are some of your most driven workers. They are determined to get things done, and are always looking for new challenges and the next goal to achieve. This drive pushes them to be bold, and a good source of new ideas. They are often the engine of your project.
Go-getters tend to be hyper-focused and results-oriented (and sometimes a little too fast). To connect with them, you’ll need to be a little forward-thinking. Have the next steps mapped out so they don’t get frustrated or bored. They may not be the most patient, and you might have to prepare for confrontation – but challenges will likely have good reason. This type can sometimes go rogue, moving too quickly or overwhelming others, so be sure to watch for balance in team projects.
These employees might appear to be the opposite of the go-getters: they’re usually more relaxed and purposeful, preferring the background, though are often more focused. They may not be the strongest multitaskers, but are very good at getting things accomplished. You may find that they don’t do well with shifting priorities, and may perform better when clear expectations are set.
Supporters thrive in a clear-cut and structured environment where they know exactly how to contribute, especially when they’re shown appreciation for their hard work. They tend to be encouraging and patient with others, and won’t like to offend anyone or upset the status quo. They may need some coaxing to try new things or bring forward a bold idea.
For this type of worker, working collectively to achieve a goal comes naturally. They tend to be enthusiastic and optimistic, and are good at motivating and persuading others with their positivity. If you need some support getting buy-in from your team, this type of person will be able to help.
Because they tend to work well with others, they value everyone’s opinions and want those opinions to be heard. This sometimes makes it hard for them to focus on a direction and stay organized, so bear that in mind when working with them. They also tend to avoid disapproval (but don’t we all?), so some extra encouragement can go a long way when needed.
Deliberators are your most thorough workers. They are cautious and tactful; it shouldn’t surprise you to see them questioning things or wanting details to verify a decision or plan of action. They want to get work done with high quality, but this can slow the process – they’d rather have it done right than done quickly.
If you assign a task to this person, you can be sure it’ll be checked for accuracy and that all bases will be covered. But you might have to give them a push to hit a deadline or make a final decision. They often don’t like to delegate, so if you have a deliberator on your team, check in from time to time to make sure they’re not drowning under their workload.
Managing Personality Types: Think Outside the Box
As I said at the start, these four types are just trends that I’ve noticed in my work as a project manager, and are not meant to serve as any official assessment. It’s also worth noting that people are very complex. Although they may have several strong traits from one type, each person is a mix of traits.
As important as it is to understand personalities, you also want to be wary of putting employees in a box. People change over time, and react differently in different situations. By taking into account how your employees responds in different settings with a focus on managing personality types, you can get a better feel for how you can bring out the best in each of them as their leader.