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Psychologists x Debut: Insight into Work Personalities

Often, we put on a front in our jobs. Our personalities tend to shift when we step into the 9-5. Whether it’s transitioning from being a student to your first graduate job, or the change of office vibes to WFH, we mould our persona to fit our environment – so what is your work personality, how has the last year changed it and how can you use different personas to your advantage?

We have teamed up with a number of professionals in psychology fields and backgrounds to delve deeper into ‘work personas’, how we can shift our attitude and managing style in the workplace and how working from home has changed working personalities forever.

9 Work Personalities: Which Are You?

We spoke to Occupational Psychologist Suzanne Guest, who told us all about English researcher Belbin. According to his research, there are 9 types of personalities in the workplace:

1. The Monitor Evaluator 

These make fact based decisions and look at data to make informed decisions.  Decisions are based on facts rather than emotions.

2. The Specialist

The specialist has a lot of knowledge in a very specific topic They tend to be introverted, but are good at contributing to projects in their area of expertise.

3. The Plant

These people are more creative thinkers and ideas people, they usually prefer to work alone, but are good at feeding ideas into a team and creating strategy.

4. The Shaper 

The shaper is the person who is good at moving plans forward, they tend to be driven and know how to see a task through to completion. Because of this drive, they often make good managers.

5. The Implementer 

The implementer is organised, very practical and has the ability to move a plan from point a to point b. They tend to prefer to work in ways they have become accustomed to, but their structure keeps a level of consistency that is necessary to balance those who are focused on the big picture.

6. The Completer/Finisher 

Completers or finishers like to see work completed; they have a good eye for detail and like to see projects through to the end. They have high standards and can expect others in the team to have the same high standards.

7. The Co-ordinator 

The co-ordinators are excellent managers, they tend to manage from a people point of view rather than from a view of strategy only. This means that they are particularly good at meeting the needs of the team on a human level.

8. The Team Worker

Team workers get on well with the team and are very adaptable, they enjoy teamwork and are willing to help other members of the team to make projects work.  They are good at being flexible to support the rest of the team.

9. The Resource Investigator 

They tend to be very extroverted and have a large network of contacts, they are able to source items and services easily and can get the tools or services needed to put any plans or ideas into place.

The WFH Revolution & New Personas

Suzanne Guest also commented on how different personality types in the workplace may have adapted to working from home.

“Working from home will have affected people in different ways.  the more introverted roles will have enjoyed the solitude and the time to just get on with their work and may be slightly anxious returning to offices may be difficult.  Some will have developed new hobbies and found they enjoyed not having to commute. This may be around fitness or other activities that are easy to do alone.  

Other people may have enjoyed the home work balance and will be thinking about how they can maintain this once back at work.  Completer finishers have potentially been working more hours at home as they would find it difficult to switch off if they know that there is work to still do.”

Leading psychologist and founder of Blue Sky Fostering, Simon Lockyer, said:

“The working from home persona may have its pros and cons. Whilst people may perform better and be more sociable without the pressure of the workplace, it may also lead to a lazier approach to work for others. A lot of people have developed better habits whilst others may have slipped into worse. It is important as a leader to be able to recognize this”

Avantika Vaishnav, Marketing Manager at Debut believes that working from home has changed everyone permanently: “Working from home has really changed everyone. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, it has shifted our perspective of working and most importantly our priorities. It has given a fresh outlook on how we value our time and has also provided an interesting insight into our true personalities – and perhaps how it differed to when we were in an office environment. Many people who thought they enjoyed the silence and isolation of working alone may have found they seek company to be productive in work or vice versa. It’s been a tough year and the transition back to office life and working around others may be the toughest part for many. Back-to-office anxiety is real and many people will suffer, so be sure to know your employees personality traits and how you can make this change as comfortable as possible.”

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7 New Personas From The WFH Revolution

Debut spoke to Jessica Alderson, Co-founder and CEO of So Syncd to discuss the new ‘personas’ that working from home has created:

  1. The Video-Lovers: The one who every time, without fail, asks with great enthusiasm that everyone turns their cameras on. Even though it’s 7:30am and most people are still in their pyjamas.
  2. The Baker: The one who seems to be baking a new, magnificent cake every day. And then proceeds to tell everyone about it at the beginning of each meeting. It makes you wonder how they ever get any work done.
  3. The Unmuted Typer: The one who forgets to mute themselves. They think that they are subtly replying to emails during your team meeting but their keyboard bashing echoes endlessly around your house until someone politely reminds them to put themselves on mute.
  4. The Technically Challenged: The one who just can’t get it right. Ten minutes into the call they are still accidentally turning their video off. It’s almost like they’ve never used Zoom before, except you’ve been on a Zoom call with them every working day for the past year.
  5. The Frazzled Parent: The one who looks distracted but is trying to hold it together. They aren’t quite with it and you can see them glancing around. Every now and again you catch a glimpse of a five-year-old throwing a tantrum. At least they’ve put themselves on mute though.
  6. The Cross-Talker: The one who constantly talks over everyone. Let’s be honest, Zoom calls aren’t always the smoothest. But with Cross-Talkers, it’s as if a magic spell has been cast over them which means that they can only talk when someone else is talking.
  7. The Wellness Addict: The one who is taking ‘health kick’ to a new level. We’ve all dealt with the pandemic differently, but Wellness Addicts have turned to fitness for respite. Whatever time of day you speak to them, they’ve always ‘just been for a run’.

“The Persona Shift”

We often find ourselves shifting the way we talk, act and carry ourselves when we walk into the office. We may even find ourselves putting on a certain demeanour, especially if it is a more corporate setting.

Jessica at So Syncd has also commented on why we may shift our mood and personality for the workplace:

“Employees often adjust how they come across in the workplace in order to be seen as more professional and diligent. Career progression is often highly dependent on these two points so it makes sense that workers adapt how they portray themselves to increase their chance of a promotion. Altering how you come across in the workplace is not a bad thing as such, but there is a balance between staying true to yourself and acting like an ‘ideal’ worker.

Being adaptable and adjusting how one interacts with others to fit certain situations helps fuel workplace success. High self-monitors are approached more often for friendship, information and advice and are more likely to bridge gaps between disconnected friends. On the other hand, those who are inflexible may find it challenging to meet the different standards that people expect in various social scenarios.”

Dr Lapa of Asana Lodge believes that we shift our personality for the workplace  “if the overriding personality type of the office is extrovert. Then they may feel that they may need to become that themselves to fit in. This is the same with extroverts who act as introverts. Of course, extroverted behaviours can attract a lot of attention which is why in some cases extroverts mask their typical traits in order to appear more professional, but this can depend entirely on the workplace.”

Suzanne Guest believes that we need to adapt, especially if you have to manage a team:

“Some people end up in roles that do not fit their natural style, for example, someone may get promoted because they are good at their job and have a lot of knowledge in one area, however they will need to adapt to manage a team. Other people may make good leaders, but they need to gain more specialist knowledge in order to get the experience to manage. It can be frustrating for a person to be in a very data driven role if they are very sociable. It isn’t alway possible to be in the role for your personality type.”

Conflicting Personalities

There are various personalities in the workplace, just as in everyday life that are conflicting. In a close setting such as an office and a close working relationship, we may find ourselves with tension between others. So why is this?

Simon Lockyer says that “Dominant and steady personalities often clash due to the way they deal with confrontation. And while dominant personalities may seem intimidating or impatient, steady personalities may seem indecisive. Conscientious and influential people are often at odds because conscientious types may be perceived as overly perfectionistic or concerned with the rules. On the other hand, influential people may seem like they aren’t attentive enough to details.”

When looking closely at Myers Briggs personalities, Jessica says “For the more challenging combinations of personality types in the workplace, I’d suggest they read up about each other’s personality type and communication style in work. At the beginning, you do need to make a conscious effort to communicate differently.

You might be more open-ended but your colleague might prefer short and succinct feedback. At first, you will have to make an effort to communicate in a way that works better for them but eventually it should come naturally to you. The effort is worth it if you end up with a smoother working relationship and, ultimately, a more productive and happier team.”

How managers can shift their ‘persona’ for the better

As a leader, your job is to adapt your style to get the most out of the people around you. What are their strengths, and how do you use those to get the most from them?

Simon Lockyer, comments on how managers can adapt their style to get the best out of their employees:

“When you’re hiring, part of the interview process should include determining whether your job candidate has the work style to fit the job. Just because someone has the skills doesn’t mean they’re the right hire. An analytical person may have skills and experience as a salesperson, but it may not be their passion. Finding the right person goes beyond finding someone whose credentials match your job description.

Managing challenging behaviors – such as steamrolling or overanalyzing – takes planning and communication on your part. It’s important to play to your people’s strengths and direct their energy toward common goals.

If you have different work styles on your team, it means work gets done, it gets done right, and you all might have some fun in the process.”

Jessica Alderson, founder of Sosyncd says that getting to know your employees personality types can help from a management perspective:

“It can help for managers to know the personality types of their team, whether that’s using Myers-Briggs, DISC, Enneagram or other personality type frameworks. They can then consciously tailor their communication style to individuals.

Personality frameworks are a great starting point but you also need to observe and listen to your staff. Take a step back and think, ‘Is this communication style working for this person?’ Managers can also simply ask their team members what’s working for them and what isn’t. “

Suzanne Guest has commented on how managers can shift their management style to help every different personality:

“It’s important for managers to be aware of their team’s personality and preferred style.  For example the specialist can be amazing at giving very specialist details for a project, however they rarely make good sales people or account managers, the resource investigator will be able to use the knowledge from the specialist and gain customers to put the work into place.

The understanding that all the roles fit together and respect for each other is vital.  Completer finishers are not always the best at having new and creative thinking, but will make sure work is done. Shapers are great at coming up with new ideas, but may not be able to see them through. These two types can work really well together if they have respect for each other and their strengths.

The key is understanding and respecting everyone’s style of working and bringing out their strengths.”

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