The 5 Types Of People You'll Manage (And How To Best Help Their Professional Development)
Congratulations! Your superiors have recognized your skills and leadership potential, and now you're the manager. But after one victory lap, reality sets in. You're managing other people now, not widgets—and people come preloaded with baggage in the form of different communication styles, varying work ethics, assorted temperaments, and so much more.
Successful management never starts with a one-size-fits-all approach. Even though you're the boss, you need to flex your management style to each of your individual reports. Read on for tips on reaching five common types of employees—and even ideas for contributing to their professional development.
1. The Introvert
It's easy to mischaracterize or overlook introverts, labeling them as shy or loners. This isn't always the case, and it's a good example of why it's so helpful to learn about different workplace personalities through a Myers-Briggs test or DiSC assessment. (Even if your employer doesn't offer this type of communications resource, you can research different personality types online. Simply being clued in to the fact that human beings react uniquely to the same situations will help you be a better manager.) The key difference between introverts and extroverts is whether they find solitude or social interaction most energizing.
How to help introverts grow: Respect their need to recharge through alone time. Ensure they have a quiet space in the office, and allow them to wear headphones when concentrating on tasks. Don't put them on the spot; allow them time to prepare for team brainstorms and check-ins. Give them time to process information.
2. The Creative Scatterbrain
Your department's creative scatterbrain will come up with the best ideas and energize the team, but he or she might need some help with the execution. The issue might be time management or organization—things some creatives find mundane.
How to set scatterbrains up for success: Help them see the beauty of intention in work. Encourage them to set weekly goals, and follow up with them on progress through frequent scheduled check-ins. Have them explore different organizational techniques. The traditional planner might feel restrictive, but bullet journaling could even prove to be another creative outlet.
3. The Know-it-All
Particularly if you're new to the company, your team's know-it-all might be a big help at first. It's critical to have someone show you the ropes. But once you're acclimated, you'll start to notice the rest of the team roll their eyes when the know-it-all speaks up…again. Worse, you'll catch yourself starting to roll your eyes. Best to nip this problem in the bud.
How to keep the know-it-all in check: Schedule a one-on-one in a relaxed environment, and be positive but frank. Explain that while you very much value the employee's input and contributions, you're concerned that other team members might be feeling left out. Another idea is to give this employee a specific project in a new area. This gives the employee a chance to learn something new and develop expertise—and experience what it's like to be a novice.
4. The Gossip
The gossip flits about the office and is quick to share the nitty-gritty on political undercurrents. Again, if you're new to the company, this can initially be quite helpful, as long as you take the gossip's intel with a grain of salt. But as with the know-it-all, you will quickly start groaning inwardly when the gossip is in action. Best to set a tone against gossip from the get-go. Explain to your entire team that you value communicating with integrity and respect above all else, and as members of your department, your expectation is that they do the same.
How to guide the gossip: When the gossip is causing issues, remind the employee of your stance on communicating with integrity. Explain that part of being a good employee is understanding when it's appropriate to share information and when it's not. Also, explain that while workplace camaraderie is important, so is respect, and that means you have a zero-tolerance policy on gossip.
5. The Workaholic/Perfectionist
At first, the workaholic/perfectionist might seem like the ideal employee. You can count on this person to get the job done…until he or she burns out and leaves you in a lurch, often in dramatic fashion. (Author Gretchen Rubin calls this "obliger rebellion.") Don't let your hard workers get to this point.
How to keep workaholics/perfectionists from burning out: Set a good example yourself by respecting nights and weekends in all but the rarest cases. This gives employees the cue that it's OK for them to do the same. Keep track of the employee's PTO use, and encourage him or her to schedule time off. Emphasize that intentional breaks can actually increase productivity. (Once again, set a good example by taking your own PTO.) And keep tabs on the employee's workload to ensure he or she isn't volunteering for too many tasks. Better to spread the work out ahead of time instead of having the situation implode close to a deadline.
Managing people is an art, not a science, and these are just five of the many characters you'll encounter. The best advice is to remember that you're a character yourself, and as much as you're struggling to reach your reports, they might be struggling just as much to interact with you. Start from a place of forgiveness for the human spirit, and work hard to appreciate everyone's quirks and diverse perspectives. With the right amount of care, you can turn your group of reports into a successful team with effective interaction and strong results. It starts with you.