Independent Study Project
Understanding Personalities in the Workplace
Submitted by: Graham Wieja 0682311
Submitted to: Dean Baker
Date: March 28th, 2011
Project also available online at: http://thesoiledthoughtsofanaspiringsuperintendent.wordpress.com/
Table of Contents
II. The four personality types
III. Personality: Behavioural traits versus Behavioural Characteristics
IV. Strategies as an Employer Managing Personality Types and Personality Flexibility
V. Conflict and Conflict Management
This independent was designed to explore personalities in the workplace and how to better deal with co-workers and employers. I wanted to discuss distinct personalities in the workplace and how you can work with and for them. Studies have shown there are four key personality types: Expressive, Amiable, Analytical and Driving. Each of these four personalities has both their strengths and weaknesses and there are tactics to excel alongside them. Whether you are in a management position, or working for someone who is, each and every individual can take steps to compliment personality types and excel in the workplace.
My end goal was to put a report together that outlines the four personality types and their own unique characteristics and quirks to better understand why we are the way we are and why we interact the way we do. My goal was to inform people about their own dominant personality style and how it may be perceived by others. Along with the perception, I wanted to open manager’s eyes to the application side of this ideology that they can adapt and temporarily adjust themselves to better manage others. This was important to me because in order to get the most out of your employees you must appeal to them and their style. Personality flexibility is a useful technique to achieve this goal. I will touch upon conflict management and shed some light on my personal opinions regarding it.
II. The Four Personality Types
Studies have shown there are four key personality types: Expressive, Amiable, Analytical and Driving. Each of these four personalities have both their strength’s and weaknesses . There are distinct tactics and ways to not only co-exist with them in the workplace, but excel alongside them. Whether you are in a management position, or working for someone who is, each and every individual can take steps to compliment personality types and excel in the workplace.
In my independent study I will outline the four personality types along with the favourable and unfavourable characteristics that go along with them. From this I will draw up management tactics for dealing with each type of personality, as well develop strategies to work for each type of personality so stay tuned for that.
The four personality types characteristics and explanation:
Driver: Drivers are motivated self starters. They need to achieve results as fast and effective as is possible. They are direct and often overlook an individuals feelings when focused on achieving a goal . They are very pragmatic. Some other features of the driver personality are:
o Objective-focused and action-orientated
o Know what they want and how to get there, decisive
o Effective problem solver, results driven person
o Sometimes can be a competitive risk taker
o Forceful and determined, relates to the ends justify the means
o Direct and assertive, does not shy away from conflict
Expressive: Expressives are highly energetic and animated people. They boast social skills and can generally fit into any conversation at ease. Decisiveness is often a weakness of expressive personality types. They generally need to think situations through and rely on others to excel. They are viewed as dramatic and impulsive.
o Verbally animated, dramatic, confident, and enthusiastic
o Can be impulsive, influential, and convincing
o Good motivators, and generally effective communicators
o Can be very confident and very competitive
o Can tend to exaggerate, leave out facts and details
o Optimism a plenty
Amiable: You can depend on this person to be loyal to you. They are easy to confide in. Amiables will shy away from conflict as much as possible and reach decisions quickly. They are warm and sensitive. Amiables can be seen as push over’s. Some other attributes of the amiable personality type are:
o Kind-hearted and sympathetic, shies away from conflict
o Relaxed, mature, supportive, and stable
o Loyal team player
o Patient, preserving person can be highly sensitive
o Often quiet and soft-spoken, effective listener
Analytical: Analytical people are people who really think things through. They are logical and very fact driven. They can be seen as overcautious and boring. This is part of their charm. They are very thorough and do not like to make rash decisions. Sometimes this causes them to be seen as anti-social. Some other attributes of the analytical personality type are:
o Highly detail oriented people that are cautious and controlling
o Can have a difficult time making decisions
o Tend to be very conventional, logical, and systematic
o Tend to be highly critical people
o Can tend to be pessimistic in nature
o Very precise, orderly, and perceptive
III. Personality: Behavioral traits versus Behavioral Characteristics
People instinctively act for the betterment of themselves. Motivating factors are essential to successful management of people because people are seeking the best reward possible for themselves. The tricky part of all of this is that motivating factors differ from person to person. We as bosses need to discover what motivating factors we can offer and find employees that fit this model.
People have an innate need to feel accepted for who they are and be recognized for the contributions they can make as an employee. It’s like my football coach always told me, you look good you feel good, you feel good you play good, you play good you usually win. Who doesn’t like winning with the exception of maybe Charlie Sheen!
Traits Versus Characteristics
There is a theory that the personality has two aspects:
1. Inherited behavior (traits)
2. Learned behavior (characteristics)
Traits are responsible for telling our brain how to develop and function through the gathering and processing of information decision making. Traits can’t be changed. Traits are what drive the choices we make and how we decide to put them into action. Our behavior then tells other people how to interact and communicate with us, and defines how we’ll deal with them. Personality traits are important especially in instilling a value system within us and in determining what motivates us.
Characteristics imply how we act, express, and communicate ourselves with each other in a society. I believe they are the driving force to modern social structure. I feel this way because to me characteristics are what deem an individual socially acceptable. In essence, each human being is bound to do what is best for them. Why then do we see so people go out of their way to do something for someone else with absolutely no return on their investment? Why is it that when natural disaster strikes in one part of the world you see the absolute worst of society: looters, theft, civil war and unrest; whereas if you take the recent tsunami in Japan you see several stories of people coming together in massive amounts to try to achieve a goal as fundamental as having available fresh water? It has been instilled in them, through their culture, to do right by others when they are in need. The same cannot be said and is clearly evident in third world countries.
I believe it all comes back to the desire to be accepted. Without the feeling of acceptance comes the feeling of inadequacy. To most, the feeling of inadequacy far outweighs the burden of doing something for someone else. In a sense it is a test of will, trait vs. characteristic within every one of us. On the one hand you have yourself, a human being driven to be free in all respects: from freedom of speech, to the right of lifestyle. On the other hand you subject them to society which by the very nature of it tells us to abandon our innate senses and seek conformity. Suddenly the ideology of blazing your own trail gives way to taking the path of least resistance.
IV. Strategies as an Employer Managing Personality Types
It is difficult to assess what type of person is sitting across from you during the interview process. The limited time frame in which you have to develop an opinion and get a sense for what type of person the potential employee is can make it extremely difficult to get the person that best fits your management style. The system is flawed and as such managers find themselves with employees that aren’t “plug and play” type players. In other words, these employees aren’t blue-chip prospects that fit right in from day one and it’s going to take some effective management strategies to get this person through the season. What’s important to factor in when deciding on how to use said employee is assessing their strengths/weaknesses and that person’s ability to work in a team situation. A person’s personality type plays directly into these two processes and generally determines in what role or capacity this employee will be used.
“Personality flex” is the alteration of your natural tendencies, generally in social situations, to appease the difference between two individuals. In other words, it is changing your natural tendencies to better get along with individuals or a group. This is an effective way of getting along and even developing a friendship with an employer, employee, or co-worker. However, I do not feel the burden of changing one’s personality falls upon the employee. I’m of the opinion that employee’s must show respect for one another but should not be forced to have a bond or relationship outside of the workplace. This makes the hiring or selection process all that more important. A manager must be able to pinpoint with some accuracy how this individual will project out into the workplace much the same as any sports team’s general manager when it comes to drafting a prospect. You must be an effective evaluator of talent, and how it can project into real life situations as a part of your management style. In my opinion it is not the responsibility of an employee to adhere to “expectations” of employer’s when it comes to personality flex. The employee must comply with what is asked of them; attendance, punctuality, an honest day’s work, and respect for others. The employer must provide a workplace where this person’s strengths are promoted, developed, and encouraged. Their weaknesses’ are worked on and counter-acted with another employee’s strengths and weaknesses.
In order to utilize personality flex a manager must first determine what type of personality they best exemplify. Knowing yourself is the only way you can understand what your expectations are and what you need to get out of your employee’s.
As an analytical manager employees may relate to;
Critical thinking based on factual merit
Conservative, quiet attitude
Thoroughness, accuracy and dependability
Cooperativeness and patience
Logic and accuracy
As an analytical manager employees may not relate to;
Lack of compassion and ability to form relationships through an impersonal approach
Factual based decision making process, and lack of risk taking
Dependability on third party knowledge and facts, non-trusting nature
As an analytical manager there are minor changes you can make, involving personality flex, to appease your employers and create a better work environment such as;
Setting realistic goals and developing a gameplan in the form of a checklist to accomplish said goals
Qualify employees as opposed to quantifying employees: Recognize each and every one is unique and brings something different to the table
Spending informal time with employee’s (lunch room talk, staff socials, team building exercises to boost moral) Anything that allows an employee to see you outside the formal work environment can go a long way to building lasting relationships
As an expressive manager employees may relate to;
Imagination and thought invoking nature
Personable nature and enthusiasm
Outgoing and competitive nature
Opinionative and impulsive nature
Loud, flashy, and dramatic style
As an expressive manager employees may not relate to;
Loud, flashy, and emotional side
Ability to follow through on all projects and tasks
As an expressive manager there are minor changes you can make, involving personality flex, to appease your employers and create a better work environment such as;
Use factual merit in conversations as opposed to personal feelings and allow others to find out what you already know yourself
Slow down your innate fast-paced processes and talk things through before acting
Focus on small tasks as part of the big picture, in sequential order to avoid confusion or indecisiveness
Provide a goal, and delegate within your crew to achieve this
Maintain focus on individual goals and keep on track, others might not see the “whole picture”
As an amiable manager employees may relate to;
Caring, thoughtful, and co-operative nature
Team-oriented focus and compassion for others
Supportive and helpful nature
Friendly, focused work ethic
Careful but deliberate and effective decision making
As an amiable manager employees may not relate to;
Soft-hearted and compliant nature
Lack of drive and initiative
Careful deliberation and decision making processes
Non- competitive stance
As an amiable manager there are minor changes you can make, involving personality flex, to appease your employers and create a better work environment such as;
Be as consistent, insistent and direct as possible when delegating. You must take charge of the situation in order to achieve the desired goal. Everyone must be on the same page.
Build business relationships first. Allow the process of becoming a friend take its natural course instead of promoting the idea. Be a boss first, and a friend second.
Stay on schedule through decisive decision making and action.
Don’t waver on situations. Be prepared to make your decision known or prepare to delegate accordingly. Stand your ground and support your decisions.
As a driver manager employees may relate to;
Logical decision making and efficiency
Discipline and decisiveness
Accomplishments and competitive drive
Independence and task oriented approach
Empowerment and ability to lead
As a driver manger employees may not relate to;
Bossiness and lack of delegation
Controlling nature and secretiveness
Tough mindedness and impatience for errors
As a driver manager there are minor changes you can make, involving personality flex, to appease your employers and create a better work environment such as;
Be patient with others
Set deadlines and allow employees to achieve them on their own initiative. Set time restraints but do not micro-manage.
Take an interest in the person, not the worker. Show support in personal accomplishments and hardships alike. Give them the “human” touch.
Share your opinions with employees. Don’t be a reclusive individual.
V. Conflict and Conflict Management in the Workplace
Through my years working on crews at golf courses I have come across several group dynamics. There have been those crews where everyone can get along and has a mutual respect for each other. The individual focuses’ are very succinct with one another’s, and the focus is on achieving the goal of maintaining the course. However, I have worked on crews with an obvious divide between them. Some divides larger than others, and often times can be traced back to one or two key issues. The issues can vary as much as the people that possess them so delving into that seems rather futile. One thing I can tell you with a great deal of certainty is these divides can absolutely tear crews apart and leave a manager reeling with endless dilemmas. An unhappy crew is an unproductive crew. An unproductive crew is equal to an unproductive manager, no matter the personality type.
If the root of the problem is directly linked to one individual should the manager terminate said employee’s position on the crew? What are the repercussions if this is the desired course of action? Who will it affect and how long will the effects be felt for? Will this rectify the situation or has the damage already been done? These are just a few of the problems associated with this type of conflict.
This topic is as user specific as they come in my opinion. By this I mean that each and every conflict within the workplace is like a snowflake, none are alike. And as such saying there is one true or correct mode of action seems quite ignorant. To be fair, no two people will think exactly alike because we all have different upbringings, different values, and different perspectives. What is “wrong” to one person, may feel “correct” to another. Where is the line as a manager? It has become distinctly apparent that objectivity, in other words, how a manager views one certain situation, will go a long way in determining how the conflict is resolved. Objectivity by its’ very nature is situation dependent which can be construed as unfair or biased by employees.
Take for instance this situation:
You have two employees. Employee A is a model employee who does everything asked of them in a professional manner day in and day out. Employee B is a sufficient employee. They generally do what they are told to, usually in the manner that they should but they have some character issues that pop up from time to time. Employee B does not get along with certain individuals in your crew. Now let’s say that both employee’s A and B are starting to show up late for work in the morning. Each have been late three times on separate occasions. You as a manager have given each employee verbal and written warnings for “strike 1, and strike 2”. You inform both A and B that “strike 3” involves a suspension without pay. Employee A, shows up late the next day and since they are so valued you as the manager decide to look the other way. Employee B shows up late the next day and you inform B that they are suspended without pay.
It is obvious why you elected to suspend B, and not suspend A. “A” is valued, and despite their short-comings contributes a lot to the team. But are you being fair? Herein lies my point that just because A is more valued, does not mean your stance should waver. A manager must have a “poker face” where emotions are left at the door. I fully understand the rationale behind the decision just as clear as anyone else can, but can you justify this to your crew? Will the other employees now divide, with one group siding with you, and the other group siding with your inability to be fair? Are we all the same playing field in terms of being employees? Feelings of resentment towards special treatment can be a nightmare. And in my opinion, if this type of bias is displayed they are warranted. Fairness and equality need to take precedence as a manager. To restate, conflict management is user and situation specific. I don’t believe anyone has all the answers, but there are a few general guidelines that may shed some light on a very difficult human resources issue. Some guidelines to consider are:
Have guidelines and standards in place for employees (personal conduct policies, expectations, etc.)
Equality is key – treat EVERYONE the same, you can’t play favourites
Match crews up to accentuate people’s positive attributes
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – find out what it means to everyone
Open the lines of communication- don’t let a people harbour feelings of resentment. Address the situation out in the open and nip it in the bud.
When I first set out to do this project I found myself envisioning it through the eyes of the employee. To be fair, I’ve really only been the employee in my experiences and as such may have lacked the theories involving managing and management techniques. Through the process of my research I found my focus was shifting from how do I see it as an employee, to how do I see it as a potential employer. This is reflected in my final report as it is heavily geared towards the employer as opposed to the employee. To be fair, the manager or employer has a great deal more to gain from this and as such it should be geared toward that.
Once I was able to account for this change, I found my focus shifting rapidly towards writing this as if I were a manager. I think this shift in focus has given me a greater insight into the challenges involved in putting together a staff to operate a golf course maintenance crew.
I have a great deal of experience of working on a crew for superintendents that exemplify a lot of good, and some bad characteristics that I did not know how to deal with at the time. My solution back then was to ignore it, and to go along working in the same fashion that I’ve grown accustomed to no matter what the situation may be.
By doing so, I found I harboured some resentment towards my employer because their handling of a situation was unfair. By this I mean, there were contrasting opinions on the handling of situations. These contrasts developed into riffs between the crew, and as a result conflict arose.
I was unaware of how much personality factors into the day to day and overall health of a crew. An aspect of golf course maintenance that in my opinion is commonly overlooked. Who wants to go to work every day and have to deal with someone who is miserable, or for that matter go to work miserable yourself? Let’s be honest, this industry doesn’t pay well enough to be miserable at work. And yet it is a common occurrence around the industry and a problem that plagues several managers on a daily basis.
I feel that through my studies I have gained valuable insight into just what makes certain people tick, what motivates them, and what drives them to come back to work every day. With that being said, I feel more importantly I’ve learned what angers and frustrates people to a point where you have a high turnover rate from year to year. So much money is spent on training and re-training individuals in this industry. It would be far more prudent for us as managers to spend the time to understand what makes employee’s tick, and how to retain them for prolonged periods of time.
Turfgrass Information File Online via University of Guelph
• You didn’t make the line-up but,.. , Aylward, Larry. 2007. Golfdom. July. 63(7): p. 8., TGIF # 127715
• Get more out of your volunteers, Strigas, Athanassios. 2008. SportsTurf. April. 24(4): p. 34-36, 38-39., TGIF # 135114
• Managing Conflict, Preston, Paul. 1979. GCSAA 50th International Turfgrass Conference and Show: Proceedings. p. 143-150., TGIF # 103551
• Professional Enrichment, Anonymous. 1991. Golf Course Management. January. 59(1): p. 32, 34., TGIF # 20290
The World Wide Web
• Communication Success With the Four Personality Types, Preston Ni M.S.B.A., http://www.nipreston.com/publications/excerpts/personalitytypes.pdf
• Personality Types- WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? , Maya Kirpalani, http://www.lifepositive.com/mind/personal-growth/personality-types/self-understanding.asp