Personality differences are common in the workplace. No one person can ever hope to get along with every co-worker and supervisor. However, it is essential for workers and managers at all levels to understand that employees with conflicting personalities can work together effectively when properly managed. Supervisors must be careful to manage behaviors rather than personalities and not allow those personality differences to affect employees’ ability to work together as a productive team.
Personality differences in the workplace can have a tremendous impact on productivity and performance when not managed properly. Individual workers are also affected when personality conflicts are allowed to progress unchecked. When in regular conflict with others, workers tend to experience increased stress levels, anxiety and even depression. Workers may also experience a decrease in job satisfaction, which leads to a lack of engagement with their jobs and the organization. Long-term personality differences in the workplace may negatively impact the organizational culture as well.
Effective conflict management is often essential when dealing with personality differences in the workplace. Employers must have a system in place for reporting and managing conflict between workers. Communication is also vital when managing varying personalities. Managers must work to develop a culture of communication and respect to ensure employees can work together effectively regardless of personality differences. It is also important to ensure workers understand what is expected of them as proper clarification of expectations can also diminish the impact of personality differences in the workplace.
Personality assessments such as the DiSC, which analyzes personality traits including dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness, are common methods used to help workers understand and manage personality differences. Other useful tools include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which rates employees on scales such as extraversion vs. introversion and thinking vs. feeling, and the Keirsey Temperament sorter, which examines similar personality traits. Each of these assessments may be administered in the workplace to help workers understand why they may have difficulties with certain co-workers and overcome those differences.
One effective method of avoiding personality differences in the workplace is to eliminate potential problem personalities in the recruiting and hiring process. Finding workers who will be a good fit with the organizational culture is also key. Even if a potential new hire has a pleasant temperament, he may eventually sour on the organization if he feels he does not fit in with existing employees. This may lead to future personality conflicts which may have been avoided with the use of a proper vetting system. The inclusion of personality assessments in the recruitment process can help reduce the likelihood that a new employee may have a negative impact on the organization as a whole.