4 Employee Personality Types: Understanding and Managing Different Personalities in the Workplace
Every person has their own unique set of characteristics, and it's no easy task to bring them all together as a team. Yet, that's your primary job as a manager.
Understanding and managing different personalities at work is a vital skill to create an effective team.
But we all tend to make the mistake that others interact and think the same way we do, it's called a false conscious bias. As a leader, it’s expected that you must treat everyone equally, but the golden rule is wrong.
We need to treat others the way they want to be treated, which means that what works for one person may not work for another, but you have to differentiate between the two as a manager.
It turns out that effective leadership in the workplace hinges on intrinsic concepts at an individual personality level. For example, what motivates and inspires one person isn't the same for others, but to effectively lead a team, you must understand what makes each tick.
By understanding your team's different personalities, you will learn how to work effectively with each of the individuals mastering how to energize them, communicate with them, and bring them together as a unit.
Use this article as your guide to help you understand and master the different personalities on your team.
👉 Learn the DISC personality model’s four personality types you'll find on your team, including how to identify them and what makes them tick.
👉 Understand how to manage each personality type. This section of the article will explain how to help your team work together more effectively.
👉 Discover how you can help each personality type cope with the "always-on" culture and why your management capabilities play a crucial role in employee well-being.
Table of Contents:
The Four Different Personality Types
DISC is a popular personality assessment that helps create a categorical understanding of typical patterns of behaviours and emotions of individuals.
The purpose of this psychometric tool is to give teams a common language to improve their understanding of one another and their communication skills with each other.
DISC will help you recognize each specified personality style’s characteristics, including your own, and help you and your teammates change your communication to meet other individuals’ needs on your team.
You must remember that DISC is a tool to help you communicate better with your team members. IT IS NOT a measure of intelligence, skills, experience, education, or a values indicator.
According to DISC, there are four different personality styles that people fall under:
1. The “D Style” 💪
The D personality is commonly known as dominant or direct.
We tend to classify these individuals as leaders conventionally. They’re people who like to be in charge and get the job done.
Ds are fast-paced and task-oriented and place great value on time frames and seeing results.
Their common traits tend to be assertive, self-confident, goal-oriented, strategic, competitive, and strong-willed.
D individuals respond well to pressure, a professional/no-jokes environment, and like direct answers. They require a challenge, control, and choices.
A D’s ideal environment includes freedom, authority, challenging assignments, and the opportunity for advancement.
The D personality type fears being taken advantage of, loss of control, and vulnerability. Their limitations include lack of concern for others, impatience, and insensitivity.
Ds bring big picture goals and tangible results to the team and motivate others to follow an inspiring vision.
A D’s strengths include the extraordinary ability to challenge the status quo and think outside of the box, both of which make them great innovators.
You can easily recognize a D by their outgoing disposition. They act confidently, make quick decisions and are not afraid of risk.
2. The “I Style” 💃
The I personality is known as interactive or influential. Is live by the motto “have fun while you do it” and love being with people.
Is are fast-paced and people-oriented, which makes them energetic, friendly, enthusiastic, and charming.
They want to enjoy an exciting life experience and respond well to recognition and approval.
An I’s ideal environment includes prestige, a chance to share ideas, an opportunity to influence others, and friendly relationships.
They fear social rejection, disapproval, and being ignored. I's are limited by their impulsiveness, disorganization, and lack of follow-through.
Is are your team cheerleaders. They encourage and motivate others and keep environments positive with their energy and humour.
They’re also naturally creative problem solvers who love to bring new ideas and solutions to the table.
Your I team members are recognizable by their talkativeness, animated facial/body expressions, and charming and poised disposition.
3. The “S Style” 🧘
The S personality style is known as steady or supportive. They live by the High School Musical song; We’re all in this together. 🎶
The S personality style is people orientated like the I, but work at a slightly slower pace.
S's are very dependable and understanding. They’re a classic team-player who is helpful, patient, and accommodating.
They require an environment of support and cooperation that includes established routines but remains relaxed and cordial.
S's require appreciation, harmony, and teamwork and respond well to assurance and time to adapt and process information/tasks.
The S personality type fears a loss of stability, change, and offending others.
Their limitations include being too accommodating, avoidant of change, and indecisiveness.
S's will always finish what they start and work to provide for the team’s needs as a whole
An S is easily recognizable by their even tempers and soft-spokenness. They’re natural listeners and ask lots of questions.
They exhibit patience and have slower moving body language compared to Ds and Is.
4. The “C Style” 🕵️
The C-style personality is called conscientious or cautious and is primarily concerned about getting things done right, aka they’re your traditional perfectionist.
Cs are systematic and precise. They think logically and analyze everything.
The C personality tends to keep to themselves, quietly follows protocol, and is skeptical of things before accepting them.
Cs respond well to specific instructions, strict protocol/procedure, and want time to validate their work.
They require answers, excellence, and details.
A C’s ideal environment is structured and orderly, has clearly defined tasks, rules, and procedures, and provides them with sufficient time and resources to complete projects.
The C fears criticism, unstructured methods, and, most importantly, being wrong.
Their limitations include isolating themselves, being overly critical (of themselves and others), and overanalyzing things.
Cs are task-oriented and slow-paced, so they complete every project they commit to in great detail. They provide reality checks for the team and make great planners.
You can recognize a C from their careful speech pattern. They tend to be former and proper and exhibit fewer facial expressions and gestures than Ds or Is.
Now that you have a better understanding of each personality type on your team, it’s time that you learn how to communicate and manage them better. Keep reading to unlock the secrets to better team management. 👇
Managing Different Personality Types
As a manager, you must understand the different personality types on your team. Understanding each personality will help you know what your teammates need from you to be more productive and how to communicate with each personality type effectively.
To effectively manage the different personalities, you must first understand your disposition first. To learn what your DISC personality is take this free DISC personality quiz. After take the quiz I encourage you to check out the Unicorn Leadership DISC Style Assessment tool. This tool will help you make sense of what your DISC personality means and how it affects how you show up in the workplace. To download the resource simply sig up with your email below. 👇
Knowing your personality is an essential component of successful management because if you want to relate to your teammates, you must first understand yourself.
Understanding yourself and being able to relate that understanding to how other people interact is called emotional intelligence. To learn more, check out my article, A Manager’s Guide to Improving Emotional Intelligence at Work.
Once you’re aware of your own needs, you can start to understand how to interact with others, which will help you create a thriving environment for the entire team and its members.
For example, if you are a D personality type and your teammate is an S, you’re both going to communicate and need different things from your environment.
To elaborate, if your teammate is an S style when you give them tasks and are communicating with them as a D, you will have to ‘take it down’ a notch.
As discussed in the section above, Ss, while people-orientated, are also slower-paced than Ds.
While you can depend on an S to always complete their tasks, you must accept that it might take them slightly longer to complete it than you think it would, which means you will have to accommodate for that when giving them deadlines.
On the other hand, if you were dealing with an I, you can count on them being more fast-paced, like yourself. But, Is also tends to be slightly more disorganized than a C or an S so, you’ll often have to remind them of their tasks throughout the week.
Tools such as ClickUp are especially helpful for managing Is as they help create an organized task assignment and schedule that teammates can regularly check to stay on track.
To help you understand how to communicate and manage each of your team’s personalities better, I have comprised a summary of what each personality type needs from their manager and how they like to communicate.
Dealing with a D
Ds thrive on being productive, and they expect the same from their manager.
They want their communication with you to be quick and to the point.
You must be confident in your communication with a D and include specific guidelines to follow in their tasks.
Give Ds the freedom to set their own goals, as this will help give them a sense of control.
Interacting with an I
As we know Is love people, which means they require social stimulation from others.
Don’t be afraid to over-communicate with an I as they thrive on interaction. Never ignore an I and try to ensure their tasks aren’t too repetitive.
Is react best to managers who are positive, upbeat, and enthusiastic in their communication.
Supervising an S
Ss thrive in friendly environments that are cooperative and prioritize teamwork; this means Ss want their managers to be kind, understanding, and patient.
Ss, by their very name, are steady, so they don’t like surprises and thrive completing repetitive tasks consistently.
Remind Ss that you appreciate their hard work and always give them plenty of time to finish their tasks.
Communicating with the C
Cs are obsessed with perfection and getting things done right and expect you to be accurate and structured in your communications with them.
Avoid interrupting Cs and try to be supportive with your feedback to them as they fear mistakes.
When you’re giving Cs a task, make sure to provide them with a reasonable timeline and avoid giving them vague details.
Be open-minded when you communicate with Cs as they’re good at pointing out different perspectives because of their analytical views of the world.
How Different Personality Types Cope with an Always-On Culture
The greater your team’s well-being, the better their quality of work will be, and the more productive they will be.
In this new, fully remote working world, prioritizing employee wellbeing has become more critical than ever.
As a manager, your employee’s well-being is your top priority and helping them find a productive work-life balance is crucial to their success and the team’s effectiveness.
To help your employees balance their professional and personal lives, take the time to understand how each of them copes with the new virtual reality they find themselves in.
Remind your D personalities that not everything has to be done at once. Tell Ds to take the time to turn off their notifications when they’re not at work. Caution Ds of burnout as these personalities are especially susceptible to it.
For Is you will want to allow casual conversations during video meetings and create a non-work related conversation channel on your communication tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams.
I-personalities thrive on human interaction, and it may be incredibly difficult for them to not be in the office currently. As a manager, you have to do your best to create informal office communication in the online workplace too.
Ensure that Ss know you are understanding of their needs in this remote work transition and remind them you are there to support them.
Don’t be afraid to give an S a little extra time to complete a task if they need it, and try your best to make sure their online jobs mimic their in-office tasks as closely as possible.
Be sure you give Cs lots of structure in their new online projects. Remind them to take a break from their screen, and as they will likely tend to obsess over projects of every shape and size without thinking of their blue light consumption.
👉 For more help in supporting your team’s online work transition, check out my free remote management team checklist. You’ll learn immediate changes you can make to improve your team’s productivity, engagement, and communication in the online office.
After reading my emotional intelligence article, A Manager's Guide to Improving Emotional Intelligence at Work and understanding yourself, you are now ready to understand and manage other personalities on your team.
From this article, you now have a firm understanding of each personality type you will find on your team.
More importantly, you now also realize the most effective way to communicate and manage each personality type.
You now understand that Ds like to communicate quickly and to the point and get things done, whereas Cs want to take things down a notch and have calm and thorough discussions as not to miss a single detail.
You also now finally understand that Quin is an I, which is why you can never get her to stop talking and that Greg is an S, which explains why you have to remind her of deadlines, sometimes.
Recognizing your team members' personalities helps you connect the dots regarding their different behavioural patterns.
Finally, everything begins to click, and you now understand what you need to do to support them better, which is especially relevant in our newly remote world.
Knowing how your team members cope with the new always-on culture is vital to helping support their well-being.
If you would like a comprehensive team assessment that includes a full DISC assessment for every team member, check out the Unicorn Labs team workshops page.