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How to Handle Workplace Personalities

Feb10It’s a challenging task that all managers face on a daily basis – handling workplace personalities. Knowing how to effectively manage and respond to these personalities, and the situations that can arise, is critical.

In his book Managing Workplace Negativity, author and management expert Gary S. Topchik identifies 14 types of workplace personalities and offers advice on how to deal with them and keep communication in the workplace positive and productive. Here are 7 of them:

1.  The Locomotive
This big personality likes rolling over people. He can be angry and hostile and takes out frustrations on others. His favorite saying: “My way or the highway.”
How to Handle:
Don’t take it! Explain to the person how he’s making other employees feel and explain that they need to be communicated to differently. Be assertive.

2.  The Ice Person/Resister
Any change, no matter how small, can upset the resister. He loves the status quo – try to change it and resistance might flare up. His favorite saying: “I liked it better the old way.”
How to Handle:
The best strategy is try to involve these people in the change. You may also want to gradually introduce the change to them so they have time to get used to it.

3.  The Not-My-Job-er
This individual may refuse to do a task, no matter how simple, if he decides it’s not part of his job responsibilities. His favorite saying: “It’s not part of my job description to do that.”
How to Handle:
Find training and development opportunities for the Not-My-Job-er. Oftentimes, he wants growth and advancement but feels like he’s in a dead-end career and loses enthusiasm for work.

4.  The Rumor-monger
This personality has a tendency to spread rumors. She feels a sense of importance when stories she created or helped spread begin to circulate. Her favorite saying: “Let me tell you what is REALLY happening.”
How to Handle:
The best solution is be open with communication – give employees the information and facts they need. When you do this, there’s little motivation for them to believe in the rumors – and Ms. Rumor-monger loses interest in spreading the gossip because no one is listening.

5.  The Eggshell
This personality is very sensitive. The slightest thing said to her, if misconstrued, causes her to crack. Her favorite saying: “Don’t let me know, I can’t deal with it.”
How to Handle:
When giving the Eggshell constructive or critical feedback, make sure it is not brief and to the point. Get into the details, never make it personal, and be sure the person understands your point before moving on.

6.  The Sacrificer
The Sacrificer comes in early and stays late. She’ll do anything you ask her to. Negativity can ensue if she feels that her efforts are going unnoticed. Her favorite saying: “I have given up my life for this company and nobody cares.”
How to Handle:
Always give this type of person positive, constant feedback on how much you appreciate her contributions and hard work.

7.  The Pessimist
This personality experiences the world as an unpleasant place. He expects things to fall down on him, and if it doesn’t he’ll do anything possible to help bring it down. His favorite saying: “This tunnel will never end.”
How to Handle:
It’s not easy to change a pessimist’s attitude, so for starters focus on having him adopt new and specific positive habits to take the place of negative ones. With reinforcement, positive behaviors can replace the negative.

Just like work skills, there are certain personalities that are better suited for certain job roles. Behavioral assessments can be helpful in determining the right fit. A.R. Mazzotta offers an extensive menu of skill and behavioral assessments that employers can take advantage of for their job candidates. Contact us to learn more.

[Source: Topchik, G. (2001). Managing Workplace Negativity]