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The 5 personality types in the workplace and how to work with them

The 5 Personality Types in the Workplace and How to Work with Them

“Good collaboration essentially boils down to personalities who work well together and are able to integrate each other’s notes and ideas without killing each other,” said Michael Scott (and not the one you’re thinking of from The Office). Our personalities play a major role in the way that we interact with others. Although we do not actually plan on harming our coworkers, everyone’s traits and behaviors can most certainly apply to productivity in the workplace and to our own professional growth. The different kinds of people you’ll come across in your daily job will most likely fit into one of the five most common drivers of motivation in periods of intense pressure, as identified by well-known psychologist Taibi Kahler in 1975. And interestingly enough, it doesn't matter what type of office you work in, from companies that make free eCommerce websites to consulting firms. These personality traits typically exist across the board, from small business owners to employees.

We’ve broken them down into relatable items – ones that you’ll easily be able to recognize among yourself and your fellow colleagues (check out our human resources guidebook, if you're looking to learn even more). Once you understand these different character traits, you'll have a better idea of how to motivate employees based on personality style, especially when you start a business of your own. Most importantly, based on each person’s character traits, there are specific ways to interact with them in the office environment. Who will pull an all-nighter just to put that report on your desk by tomorrow morning? Or who should you grab a coffee with and chat about your weekend plans? These are all great questions that you’ll be able to answer from these five analyses of employee personality types:

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The “Be Perfect”

From the way they present themselves to the work they produce, this employee can be recognized from the moment you meet them. Usually, their posture and attire are nothing short of elegant and flattering, and their desk is immaculate. But, most of all it’s the way they work and act in certain situations that give this person away.

Places they triumph:

  • The perfectionist has exceptionally high standards for the work they produce. Therefore, you can trust that they won’t make even one small mistake in the 3,585-page yearly financial report, as they often triple-check everything.

  • They are detail-oriented in every aspect of their lives, including assignments, emails, and of course, the way they color coordinate every outfit from head-to-toe.

  • They are great at ignoring distracting background noises, like that coworker that always jams out to Backstreet Boys first thing in the morning. They always strive to stay on-task in meetings and with their daily work.

Challenges they may face:

  • Small obstacles in projects tend to hinder their productivity and focus much more than others.

  • If this person makes a small mistake, they are most likely to feel intense stress and frustration with themselves – a mood that is usually hard to crack.

  • They always play it safe. Don’t expect them to be a risk-taker. This even applies to trying out a new place for lunch.

  • They can be uptight. So, although they will get the job done well, you can’t rely on them to laugh at your joke or smile when they accidentally stumble.

  • According to their own intuition, no one can do things better than them. Because of this, they usually end up doing most tasks themselves. This can impact their productivity level, as well as others around them. For instance, they’ll focus on the last 2% of a project when 98% of it looks pristine.

How to best work with them:

  • Give them the right job for their personality. This is one that requires attention to detail, yet limits their responsibilities.

  • For each assignment, it’s best to set priorities and deadlines with this person. Hold them to a date and time or they will work until every last detail is impeccable.

  • Likewise, they tend to get overwhelmed by a large number of tasks. Have them check over your emails or short paragraphs, but not a 10-page report. They will do everything right but will be burdened and burn through a lot of time with large volume tasks.

  • Compliment them often. They are harder on themselves than anyone else. The nice and most beneficial thing to do is provide them with positive feedback on their work. This will raise their self-esteem and make them a more positive person to be around in the office.

The 'Be Perfect' Personality in the workplace

The “Try Hard”

This is the “say yes” employee that tends to take on a lot of responsibilities, often more than they can handle. They are always in the middle of attempting to accomplish something, hence, always trying. Despite this, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are completing all of these tasks from start to finish.

Places they triumph:

  • This person is so persistent that a Friday happy hour might not entice them to take a short break. They won’t give up until their work is complete.

  • They are patient and understanding that some things take time. For them, quality over quantity is important, and assignments are best completed when not rushed. A task like the monthly progress report is great for them, as it gives them a deadline and plenty of time to beat it.

  • They are committed to their work and team, going to all measures to make sure to not let anyone down. Yes, this even means making sure the lunch delivery guy didn’t accidentally put onions on someone’s sandwich.

  • Consider them your best supporter. Even more, they will always offer a helping hand (although that doesn’t mean taking your dog out for restroom breaks at the office).

Challenges they may face:

  • This person sets high, unattainable goals for themselves, like cleaning out the 1,300 unread emails in their inbox before lunch. They take on more projects and work than physically possible to complete.

  • They put more effort into the “try” stage versus the actual completion stage. Therefore, although they are always working overtime on something, it’s hard for them to actually complete a task.

  • They have trouble relaxing and often give off a tense vibe. This is because they are never satisfied with their work and nothing that they do is ever good enough.

  • They are very sensitive people, which makes it hard to offer feedback or suggestions without hurting their feelings.

  • They’re constantly comparing themselves to others around them.

  • They won’t give up, even when a project is no longer relevant.

How to best work with them:

  • Hold them to their commitments by reminding them frequently about projects that they are working on for you. And most importantly: set finite due dates.

  • Reward them when they actually complete a task, but not when they have just worked really hard on it.

  • It’s best to ignore their competitiveness. Don’t engage when they play the game of comparison. So if you both are passionate about different football teams, steer clear of this conversation topic or be prepared to back yourself during the daily battles.

the try hard personality in the workplace

The “Hurry Up”

You’ll usually come across this busy bee when they’re caught between tasks, running from one place to another. They value speed, efficiency, and their ability to constantly multitask. They are the life of the party, talking to everyone and in charge of many things. However, don’t expect to have frequent one-on-one conversations with them, as you’ll rarely see them sitting still. You may also discover that many "Hurry Up" types excel at entrepreneurship.

Places they triumph:

  • This person finishes tasks efficiently, working hard and working quickly. You won’t catch them taking a long lunch break or wasting an ounce of time.

  • They are always highly responsive, and will definitely keep you in the loop. You won’t need to remind them twice about, well, anything. This makes them the perfect one to turn to for last-minute assignments, like reviewing your presentation that’s due tomorrow morning.

  • They are lively and give off energetic vibes to others around them.

  • This person is enthusiastic and excited about life. They’re the one that will do something spontaneous with you, like try out that new lunch place around the corner since you couldn’t convince the ‘Be Perfect.’ (They’re also the person you’ll think drank five cups of coffee before arriving to work early in the morning.)

Challenges they may face:

  • They focus on quantity over quality, which means that you can’t expect a thorough job from them with individual work assignments.

  • This person is frenetic at times. More specifically, it’s quite difficult for them to sit still and relax. They constantly need to be doing something and have little patience for lost time.

  • Silence can make them uncomfortable. So if you need to work without distractions, it’s difficult to sit next to them.

  • This person will often show up late to things because they try to fit in too many activities at once.

  • Because of their high energy and inability to be in one place at a time, they are typically not known as the greatest of all listeners.

  • They are not always appreciative of the work that others do for them.

How to best work with them:

  • You can rely on them to get a task done faster than anyone else. So, give them the simple assignment due tomorrow morning that won’t require too much attention to detail.

  • Try to encourage them to slow down. When giving them a project, do so in multiple phases – allotting a significant amount of time so that they will focus on the quality versus beating a deadline.

  • Try not to get intimidated or offended by their comments. Don’t take their words too personally, this is how they treat everyone.

  • Reward them when they put a lot of time and effort into their work. This will encourage them to continue this behavior in the future.

  • Allow an extra 10-15 minutes for them to arrive at your scheduled meetings (or tell them that the meeting starts that much earlier).

the hurry up personality in the workplace

The “Please Others”

This is one of the types of people at work that often makes sure everyone around them is satisfied. You’ll hear them saying: “Does this work for you… and you… and you?!” All. The. Time. You’ll frequently see them surrounded by people. And as an extrovert, these social situations bring them energy and genuine happiness.

Places they triumph:

  • Being in the company of others is when they are their best selves. Therefore, working in teams is where you’ll see them blossom.

  • They are highly considerate of others. If you’re feeling off one day or experiencing difficulties with a project, they’ll be the first person to reach out to you.

  • Likewise, this person is highly skilled at dealing with and managing others.

  • A successful habit of theirs is being kind and pleasant to be around. (This also makes them your go-to mid-afternoon coffee buddy.)

  • This person has high moral values and always follow the rules, which goes hand-in-hand with their need to please others.

Challenges they may face:

  • They are far from assertive, which means that they won’t stand up for themselves when they know that they are right, for fear of hurting someone else’s feelings.

  • They don’t think for themselves individually. They rely on others to take charge of situations.

  • This person has trouble saying “no,” even when they should.

  • When it comes to receiving critiques or negative feedback, this isn’t one of their strong points. Being blamed for doing something wrong is their biggest fear.

  • They desire attention and absolutely don’t like to feel ignored or disregarded.

  • With their need to please people and put emotions first, their ability to think logically becomes blurry.

How to best work with them:

  • Try to be concise and straightforward with them when you have important tasks to accomplish quickly. They are going to want to do everything right, so don’t give them too much to stress about and overthink.

  • Be especially polite to them. And when they help you with something, make sure to give your sincerest gratitude.

  • When possible, don’t take your stress out on this person. They aren’t the one to vent to about work politics.

  • Be patient with them, as they will get easily flustered when rushed.

  • Compliment this person often, but only when it’s sincere.

the please others personality in the workplace

The “Be Strong”

With this employee, you can never tell how they actually feel or even what’s on their mind. They always appear stable, going about life as if they are content and everything is well for them at all times. They enjoy their autonomy and, therefore, prefer working on their own versus in large groups. They also work best on repetitive, tedious tasks – which can put them in a position to be taken for granted.

Places they triumph:

  • They are the brave one on the team – the one to take risks without fear.

  • They stay true to their values and ideas, no matter if others try to change their perspectives.

  • They are someone you can always depend on and go to for help.

  • Furthermore, they are trustworthy. If you need to share something private that you don’t want the whole office to know, they are the one to go to.

Challenges they may face:

  • They don’t want to be seen as vulnerable, so they won’t give in and change their mind. This is true even when everyone else agrees with each other and they are preventing a process from advancing forward.

  • They keep their emotions to themselves. It’s hard to tell if they are upset or hurt by something you say. It always appears that nothing is wrong with them and nobody affects their mood. With this, it’s challenging to provide feedback for them.

  • Likewise, it’s hard to tell if they are experiencing difficulties or don’t understand something at work.

  • Because they can’t express themselves, communication is not their strong point.

How to best work with them:

  • Surprise them with your kindness and consideration.

  • Share your feelings with them to give them the chance to open up to you about theirs.

  • Keep the conversations one-on-one when possible. Also, making sure to speak quietly with them and not draw in too much attention. They feel uncomfortable and easily embarrassed in crowds.

  • Give them clear and straightforward instructions for work assignments, knowing that there is little chance for them to run into issues.

  • Check in with them about their assignments regularly, as they won’t be the one to tell you when something is wrong.

the be strong personality in the workplace

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