Managing 'big personalities' in the workplace

Alan Price – CEO at BrightHR

September 22 2015

Every workplace encompasses a kaleidoscope of people each with their own unique personality. For the most part, this amalgamation of distinctive qualities serves to positively reinforce the structure of an organisation by adding a sense of diversity to the skill-set of the business. Within this assortment of employees, employers are likely to come across individuals with big or dominant personalities, who if not managed correctly can cause contention across the workforce. Employees who have big personalities house an abundance of qualities that can really enrich a team and add value to the workplace, including self-confidence, decisiveness and assertiveness. Conversely, an employee with these same skills and attributes can have a negative impact on the work environment, monopolising the workforce through controlling discussions and projects. Managing these individuals shouldn’t be about stifling their skills, but learning how to harness and channel them in a positive direction. On the whole, employees with big personalities want their opinions to be heard and appreciated by those around them. With this in mind, employers should ensure that they are demonstrating respect for their employees input. Remember, that not all ideas are good ideas, so be sure to provide constructive feedback to employees who offer impractical suggestions, as even the wildest ideas have some potential. Showing this degree of empathy and understanding towards big personalities is a great way to prove that you recognise and value their contributions, whilst also avoiding supressing their creativity. It is also important that you understand how to approach and communicate with employees who have big personalities. Conversations with these individuals should be short, concise and to the point, taking into account their shorter attention spans. Moreover, as the employer, you should maintain a consistent approach by speaking confidently and asserting a degree of authority in order to retain control of the conversation, not allowing the employee to take over. As employees with big personalities do not always make time integrate themselves with the rest of their colleagues, employers should encourage teamwork within the workplace. This will help them to establish relationships with their co-workers and how they can work in unison with them. Additionally, it may be worthwhile conducting team building exercises with the entire workforce to help facilitate positive group dynamics, and encourage dominant employees to learn from their peers. If the employee fails to see how their behaviour is impacting those around them, it is advisable that you have a private discussion with the employee in question to explain where your concerns lie. Ensure you give the employee examples of where their behaviour or actions have impacted the workplace, encouraging them to adopt a different approach when dealing with certain situations, taking the time to consider their actions. No one is perfect and we are all continuously learning from our surroundings and the people with engage with. Akin to employees with introverted personalities, it is important to understand what motivates employees with big personalities and how to get the best out of them. Taking the time to successfully manage different types of people will ensure that you develop and maintain a productive, happy and loyal workforce for years to come.

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