Working with diverse personalities

Different personalities in the workplace bring both benefits and disadvantages to the workforce. Learn how to diffuse conflict and leverage the strengths of the team.

Diversity in the workplace occurs because of differences in race, culture, ethnic group, age, education, beliefs and personality.

These are all defining qualities that determine individual identity and behaviour.

People can also be influenced by their life experiences and biographical differences. In the workplace job expectations and roles are additional factors that affect employee performance.

These elements play a role in developing the way in which people think, communicate, respond to adversity and interact with others.

There is growing consensus amongst forward thinking leaders that diversity can be one of the greatest strengths of the business, if managed correctly.

In order to compete globally businesses need to be innovative and original. Having people with different backgrounds and perspectives in one place creates the ideal setting for new ideas and fresh solutions to develop.

However diversity can also lead challenges and conflict in the organisation. While differences present an opportunity to grow and learn they can also create barriers to communication and understanding.

In the People Management Skills for New Managers training course, Course Leader Lizanne de Jong looks at how personalities influence interaction in the workplace.

A good place to start is to determine whether an individual has an introverted or extroverted personality. This will provide some insight into an employee's strengths, preferences and behaviours.

Many people are aware of the social behavioural patterns of introverts and extroverts but it is equally important to understand workplace habits.

According to de Jong introverts are more prone to email their communication, work better alone, quickly tire of socialising, are often good writers but can be easily distracted.

On the contrary extroverts are good team workers, feel comfortable in large crowds are good speakers and unsurprisingly prefer to communicate via the telephone.

Individuals can also be split into 'thinking' and 'feeling' groups, explains de Jong.

Those who fall under the thinking type are considered to be objective, critical, and goal-oriented and feel good when the job is done right.

On the other hand 'feeling' group people are satisfied when the needs of people are met. They are subjective, compassionate and focus on agreement and unity in the office.

Neither group is good or right but rather both have strengths and weaknesses that can be leveraged for the benefit of the team and ultimately the business.

For more insights into different personalities and how they impact the workplace join the People Management Skills for New Managers course hosted by Alusani Skills & Training Network®. For more information call 011 447 7470, email faith@alusani.co.za or visit the website  Alusani Skills & Training Network

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