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How to manage strong personalities in your business

The first thing to remember is, there is no right or wrong personality type. And that employees with strong personalities have an important role to play in any successful business. As do those who tend to be more reserved. But without good management in place, dominant employees can disrupt the balance of your workforce.

Sometimes, though, passion and ambition can be mistaken for disruption and can derail the workflow of a wider team. Not getting the results they had hoped for from their co-workers can leave dominant employees feeling unfulfilled or misunderstood. Should they turn up the volume if it didn’t work the first time?

On the other hand, quieter colleagues can start to feel confused about their own work. Interruptions from others and seemingly urgent requests from their passionate co-worker can halt productivity. Beginning as a slight annoyance, this can feel like a continuous knock at the door and lead to stress or conflict.

Considering the above, does an employee spring to mind? Depending on the size of your business, you may even have a few names who fit the description.

Every workforce includes a mix of personalities, but not every manager has received the training required to know how best to deal with them. So just as we did with the negative employee, we have identified some useful tips on how to manage strong personalities in the workplace.

Avoid silencing them in public

Hushing a strong personality in front of their co-workers will do little to solve a problem. The employee may argue back and cause further disruption. Their point is important to them after all and you don’t want to squash their passion.

Rather than asking them to keep it down, practice patience and offer a suitable time and place for their voice to be heard. If they persist, make it an immediate 121 to discuss their conduct.

Take the time to listen

After suggesting an appropriate time for them to air their views, be sure to follow through with the offer. If you don’t, they will pop up like a meerkat at the next available opportunity and your patience will really start to be tested.

Discuss communication and structure

Use the meeting to provide them with an outlet for their pressing issues. These may be a stream of ideas. Discuss appropriate channels of communication and how their needs fit into the wider priorities of the department or business.

If their ideas can’t be pushed through, add context and explain why. Or if you spot potential during the discussion, think about how you might like to benefit from their energy and enthusiasm in a different role.

The outcome of your meeting will form the basis of your plan moving forwards. A good aim should be for the employee to leave the meeting knowing how best to communicate their needs in the future.

You may also want to task them with some activities that channel their energy and determination in the best possible way. Advise them on how to consider their co-workers and think about the needs of their wider team when completing the tasks.

Getting the team to work together

If you can create an environment where each member of the team feels valued and understands each other’s preferred communication style you will really benefit from the different personality strengths. Myers Briggs or DISC profiling is a well-known and amazingly good way of achieving this. If you feel this would be useful, give us a call. We can advise on how best to manage all sorts of personalities, both effectively and legally.