Navigating Different Workplace Personalities

1st April 2019

Every organisation consists of a rich blend of personality types, from the introverts to the praise-seekers, the overly-ambitious to the this-is-just-my-day-job types. That’s just the nature of building a team of experts and specialists – everyone has their own way of getting things done. So what do you do if you’re not quite getting along with your colleagues? How can you build better relationships and keep things running smoothly?

Understanding and managing different personality types is key if you want to increase productivity and build effective teams. Here are four employee personality types you’re likely to encounter and ways you can work with them to ensure the best results.


1. The wallflower

Every office has an introvert. At first glance, they may seem distant and withdrawn, but really they just prefer quieter working environments. Don’t take their lack of socialising personally – some people just thrive better on their own than they do in a large group.

Be friendly but give them space. Try not to force them to socialise or make them go too far outside their comfort zone. Sometimes it’s just about making them feel comfortable enough to speak up and voice their opinions and ideas. For most introverts, leaving them to work alone in a quiet, productive workspace will allow them the room to be creative and really get in the zone.


2. The over-achiever

We’ve all come across this person at some point in our working life. They say yes to any project, often taking on more than they can handle, which can leave them a bit frazzled. They’re constantly comparing themselves to everyone else around them and often have trouble relaxing, which can create a tense vibe in the office.

Don’t let their stress rub off on you. Just try to remember, they are committed to the work and helping the team succeed. If you’re working on a project with them, break the work into manageable steps that won’t add to their already full workload. Be patient and praise them when something they’ve worked hard on has done well. Chances are, they move so quickly from one project to another that they forget to stop and appreciate what they’ve achieved.


3. The apathetic

These workers started out optimistic and enthusiastic about the job, but years of hitting the same roadblocks and dealing with difficult stakeholders have put them in a bit of a slump. There is no fight left, so they do things with question, even if it doesn’t make sense for the business. They have the skills to do the job well but just need a bit of a push when it comes to staying motivated.

This is not someone you can change overnight. This sort of apathy takes years to manifest. The best way to reinvigorate them is to lead by example. Show your colleague how excited you are about a project that went well. Try to get them involved in slightly more daring or risky projects to show them that you still can make a difference. And give them the chance to lead wherever possible.


4. The victim

It may seem like everyone, and everything, is out to get this employee. And not just in the workplace – their landlord is ripping them off, the trains never work on time, their family is draining their resources. This often bleeds into the workplace, infecting the office vibe and stealing time away from projects. And even worse than that, they never think anything is their fault. These people are generally negative by nature and can make even the smallest projects seem difficult.

It can be hard to tell someone that they’re constant negativity is impacting your work life, but sometimes it’s necessary. Be kind, but honest. Chances are, they probably didn’t even realise how negative they were being. Ask them what they could have done differently to avoid a situation that went wrong. This may help them learn to change their habits.

It’s not always easy to deal with so many distinct personalities every day, but the truth is that an office can’t thrive when it’s filled with too many of the same types of people. The best work environments have a balance, ensuring a spread of ideas and solutions. In other words, the fact that you’re clashing isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And you’ll probably learn a thing or two about yourself along the way.


This content was provided by CharityJob, the largest and most specialised job board for the charity and not-for-profit sector in the UK.