Watch any TV show about an office and the first thing you’ll notice is that workplaces are filled with different personalities. Heck, if you work in an office, you probably don’t need to watch a TV show to know this fact is true! Diverse personalities add creativity to your team, but sometimes, differences can be the source of conflict. Here are some tips that office managers can use to manage different personalities in the workplace:
1. Stop passive aggression before it starts.
Whether it’s a rude note on the fridge or an underhanded CC on an email, passive-aggressive behavior can be a plague in an otherwise happy workplace. The ironic part is, passive-aggressive behavior often stems from a desire to avoid conflict. It’s inevitable that conflict will occasionally arise at work, but passive aggression is often the result of poor systems for handling disputes. Avoid eye-rolling and sarcastic comments by providing your employees with a clear channel for pursuing complaints. Whether it’s an anonymous feedback box in the breakroom or a peer-mediation service, clear lines of communication can help cut down on this source of conflict.
2. Say “no” to gossip.
Since the dawn of time, people have been interested in other people’s business, but this doesn’t mean gossip has to be a source of conflict between different personalities at work. Make gossip less enticing by putting as much information out into the open as possible. If rumors are swirling about a merger or some layoffs, cut down the chatter by letting employees know as much as you are able. If an employee is experiencing a personal crisis like illness or a messy divorce, encourage compassion by offering your team an easy way to be supportive. Team building activities and casual lunches can help employees to see each other as people with lives, and not just colleagues or competition.
3. Make guilt a non-issue.
A guilt-tripping personality can ruin workflow. Good teamwork comes from employees who can communicate openly, and guilt-trippers frequently throw a wrench in that machinery by making communication a burden. Reduce guilt-tripping in your office by collectivizing a sense of responsibility. Foster a workplace culture that supports the idea that the team thrives together. Make “my to-do list is your to-do list” a company motto. And if possible, consider putting together an office activity day where teammates write down their to-do list on notepads and exchange them – or work on them in groups. When everyone works together to get things done, guilt becomes a useless tool.
4. Keep conversations conversational.
Some people talk more, some talk less – this is an inevitable fact. In the workplace, however, a single employee who talks more than their fair share can be a detriment to communication and can engender resentments. Avoid letting one person dominate the conversation by putting a practical sharing system in place for meetings, like hand-raising or going around in a circle. This might seem less conversational, but in some cases, it is more conversational because it ensures that all voices can be equally heard.
People are unique, so it’s no surprise that workplace personalities can be difficult to manage. Instead of fighting against the personalities of your team, work with them to create seamless systems that make the disruptive behaviors unnecessary. Soon, your company culture will be running like a well-oiled machine.