Managing multiple personalities in the workplace - Business Works
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Managing multiple personalities in the workplace

by Alasdair Scott, Occupational Psychologist, The Chemistry Group There are a number of common personality types in the modern office and Alasdair Scott, occupational psychologist and business analyst at The Chemistry Group, provides a breakdown of some, with advice on getting the best out of them and staying on their good side.

The Ball Breaker is someone who will stop at nothing to become successful in comparison to the Mother Hen, the one you go to for a pick-me-up chat and a cup of tea. The Socialite is someone who is always up for drinks, but doesn’t seem to get much done in the work place, compared to The Guy with Bernard’s Watch who manages to be in a thousand places at once without looking frazzled. Finally we have the Creative type, desk full of interesting knick-knacks who requires a lot of stimulation.

The Ball Breaker

> How you can recognise them? These guys are the ones who will stop at nothing to become successful; they’ll sell their own mothers if it means they’ll get ahead. They have very little time for the soft, people stuff and are more focused on raking in the big bucks!

> How to work with them: The softly, softly approach would seem like a good antidote to these guys, but don’t be fooled. Try not to show too much weakness, be thorough and resolute and ready to hold your corner. Plan your approach to work, keep up your pace of work and make yourself invaluable through your own insight.

> What not to do: Show them up in big meetings, win at their expense – they might catch you out later.

> Personality make up: These guys are low on the Agreeableness scale and very high on Emotional Stability. They’re low on empathy and mildly extraverted, meaning that they’re out for solo success and not really a team player.

The Mother Hen

> How you can recognise them? Guy or girl, they’re the ones you can always rely on for a pick-me-up chat and a cup of tea. They’ve been in the business for years and are probably in a support or admin role. They never socialise with you, but subtly know all the gossip in the office. They’re the ones who act like mum or dad in the office ... or at the very least a cool aunt or uncle.

> How to work with them: Always say hello to them in the morning and offer to make them a cup of tea. Invite them to the pub after work and insist they come ... they’ll love you for it.

> What not to do: Meddle with their systems or set way of doing things. They’ve been in the company for years and won’t welcome a young whippersnapper changing things.

> Personality make up: They’re soft and cuddly with an iron will. They’re highly extraverted with average emotional stability. This means that they’re warm and approachable and will welcome any interaction. They’re low on openness, meaning that they like their set way of doing things.

The Socialite

> How you can recognise them? Always booking after-work drinks, will be thinking about the Christmas party in July and seem to know everyone around the office. They appear to do minimal work but everyone still loves them.

> How to work with them: Take five minutes to say hello in the morning, ask questions and interact with them. Keep them occupied with people-related tasks as was this won’t feel like work to them.

> What not to do: Ignore them or their social events. Give them the time of day now and again. Try and avoid them if you’re busy or have a tight deadline, otherwise you’ll be doing that report in the small hours after those drinks you’ve been forced into.

> Personality make up: They are high on Extraversion, low on Emotional Stability and high on Openness. They are the life and soul of the party and will want everyone to join in. Work is a social event for them and it’s probably where their main social circle is. They may be slightly needy and will seek constant social stimulation.

The Guy with Bernard’s Watch

> How you can recognise them? They’re the ones we’d all like to be. They’re in the office first and leave last. They’ve already been to the gym and done the school run, but still look amazing. They’re able to do a full day’s work and still have time to fit in extra research time, a run, a conference call, a school play and dinner with friends. They’re able to be in a thousand different places at once. Where do they get the time?

> How to work with them: They’re quick, so you’ll need to be able to keep up. Plan your work around their movements. Watch their diary for a free spot, be persistent with them and ask them how they do it.

> What not to do: Don’t keep them waiting or run over time. They run an efficient ship and you’ll need to be just as organised to work with them.

> Personality make up: They are motivated self-starters and full of energy. Nothing is too much for them and they’ll take anything on. They’re low on detail and will figure things out along the way.

The Creative

> How you can recognise them? Think 'Apple tech geeks' and you know who these guys are. Their hair is messy; they probably have a beard and wear flared jeans. Their desks have seemingly unrelated knick-knacks on them, from Pac-man games to the latest copy of Wired!

> How to work with them: Give them space to think, provide them with coffee and constant stimulation to help their creative process.

> What not to do: Disrupt the creative process or wave the rulebook in their faces.

> Personality make up: They are high on Openness and low on Conscientiousness. They’re unlikely to conform to conventional rules or working practices and thrive in teams that go against the grain.

The question is, can you recognise any, or all, of them in your office?

For more information about The Chemsitry Group, please visit: visit:

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