When we hear the word diversity, we tend to think of age, gender, ethnicity etc., but let’s look at diversity in terms of personality types and how to make the most of this in the work place.
“John, will you work with Patricia on the new project?”
“Nicola, would you work with Steven on that communication?”
Diversity in a team can allow managers to utilise the different strengths of their staff to complement each other.
However, if these differences are not appreciated, it can lead to frustrations and challenges. So here are my top 3 tips for appreciating different personality types at work rather than seeing them as a frustration (and it also works at home too!)
Not everyone is going to do things your way
We can all think our way is the right way. What feels comfortable to you (for example, having a very structured, detailed plan to meet a project deadline) may feel constraining to someone else. They may produce an equally brilliant piece of work, with nothing written down and all pulled together at the last minute! It’s just what feels right for them.
Appreciating this can help working relationships. Perhaps consider agreeing a slightly earlier deadline if you like structure and don’t like last minute rushes. Or if last minute is your energiser, then don’t forget to provide a more structured person with brief regular updates to confirm everything is ‘on track’.
Don’t dismiss the quiet ones
Meeting dynamics – fascinating stuff! Some people are energised by interacting with others, happy to debate or talk their thoughts through as they evolve and may even interrupt others. But don’t forget those who are not so vocal, sitting more quietly, preferring to wait their turn and perhaps not saying anything. They may have a great idea, but may not feel comfortable to say it in front of everyone else until it is more fully formed.
Providing agendas in advance, perhaps giving quieter attendees a ‘heads up’ on a particular topic you’d like their input on, can mean they have time to reflect beforehand and are then happy to offer their considered ideas during the meeting. Having the option to provide something in writing afterwards may also work too.
Was it something I said?
How people prefer to communicate can also be influenced by their personality type. Emails are a prime example. Do you use pleasantries in all your emails or do you like to get to the point and don’t feel the need for them, especially if you are busy?
Be aware how the person who receives your email may feel. A “Fine” from you may have them worrying that you are angry with them!
If possible, adapting your response to one more like the person you are writing to can prevent misunderstandings like this. It may just be as simple as “Thanks for your email, that’s fine.” or perhaps not using so many pleasantries, but it can make all the difference.
For important emails etc., it can also be really helpful to get someone with a different style to you to review it, to help produce more rounded communications.
Picking up on the behavioural cues of those you manage or work with is a great starting point to get the best out of your relationships with other team members. When assigning people to work together or setting up a project team, having an understanding of their personality type can be really helpful. For example, pairing those who are great at getting things started but less interested in the detail with those who are wonderful at picking up on typos and inconsistencies, can help produce a creative, but accurate report, drawing on the strengths of each.
When teams appreciate the diverse personality types in the workplace, it is the start of a positive language about differences and a big step towards a more engaged, tolerant workforce.
Tamsin Regnes is a Certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) Practitioner who works with people to help them discover what makes them ‘tick’ and appreciate that others may ‘tock’.
With an impressive background of more that 25 years in the NHS working as part of teams. The last 16 years of which, she worked as one of the managers at an NHS Regional Education and Training team. It was here that Tamsin discovered how knowing your MBTI type can help teams work even better together.
There is no better or worse MBTI type to be – the framework doesn’t look at how capable you are at something, instead it looks at how people prefer to recharge, the information they trust, how they make decisions and live their lives.
People can discover their MBTI types in interactive and fun feedback sessions as individuals, in workshops or as part of team building events.
Tamsin can be contacted on 07771 91685.
Tamsin’s Website has lots of hints, tips and videos you should definitely take a look at to find out more.
® MBTI, Myers-Briggs and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are registered trademarks of the Myers & Briggs Foundation in the United States and other countries.