How to Motivate Different Types of Personalities in the Workplace

Different personality types act differently in meetings.
Different personality types act differently in meetings. (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

If people were all the same, being a manager would be easy. A one-size-fits-all approach won't work, though, in the real world, where the workplace is filled with a wide variety of personalities, not all of them compatible. What motivates one employee to give his best effort might cause another to zone out. Good managers tailor their approach to the specific personality types of the people they seek to motivate. It all starts with being observant of individual differences.

Test or observe employees to become more familiar with their personalities. Some organizations use tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to assess personality types. If this isn't possible in your organization, observe your employees' behavior and listen carefully to what they say.

Identify which employees seem to care most about new challenges and opportunities for advancement, and which care most about security. Motivate the challenge seekers by providing opportunities for professional growth and creativity. Motivate the security seekers by being consistent and by giving them what they need to do their jobs well.

Demonstrate sensitivity to the differences between extroverts and introverts. Plan schedules so that extroverts are able to spend enough time with other people and introverts are able to spend enough time alone. Help extroverts stay on-topic when they are speaking in meetings, and encourage introverts to talk without overly pressuring them.

Give detailed instructions to employees who lack initiative and avoid responsibility. When dealing with employees who like to take charge, be clear about goals but let the employees decide how to reach them.

Understand your own personality type. Self-knowledge helps you deal with people who have personalities that are similar to and different from your own.

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