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Different personalities at work

How to: Deal with different personalities at the workplace

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“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities,” says author Stephen R. Covey. And that can’t be more true when you find yourself working with various types of HR colleagues found in every office and realise that different people need to be dealt with in different ways.

In this exclusive to Human Resources, these business leaders share their tips on working with different personalities. Let’s hear their secret!

Learning for me, is number one. Attempt to speak to them in their language; by deep diving with the aid of some tools to understand their orientations. Once having met with some alignment, invite them to be ‘explorers’. Allow them new experiences and validations that will support their biases or consciousness.
- Minal Jagtiani, co-founder, LeadThink
It’s neuroscience at work – recognise and become aware of unconscious biases and the impact these have in how we see others and others see us. Only then can we deal with each personality the way we should. Unconscious bias surfaces any time our brain tries to simplify the reality we observe, but it also tricks us into placing people into ‘tribes’ (e.g. young/old; tech/sales). When we simplify reality, we run the risk of oversimplifying and become unable to see personalities for the wonderful complex thing they are.
- Joe Carella, assistant dean, University of Arizona
By having an open mind, listening to the in-country local needs, and working collaboratively to reach an end goal; we successfully went live with the recruitment system last year.
- Domenique Onishi, talent acquisition expert
Perspective taking is key. It’s like a long game in backgammon – longer up front, but when you win, you win dramatically.  To get the best out of your people, you need to have the adaptability to see the world through their eyes. A couple of things you can do here would be to vary your preferred meeting format by balancing out group thinking and individual reflection. You can also plan ahead by sending two to three specific questions prior to the meeting that you would like the team to reflect upon. Initially you may feel like these things are slowing you down, but if they get you to the best outcome and allow you to maximise the performance of your team, it’s well worth it.
- Sarah Schwab, CEO, The Experience Accelerator
The situation sounds like a true challenge and it is often the case. What helped me in a few instances was to understand the battles these people were dealing with in their lives (often personal). It’s what makes us all human.
- Gaini Tanayeva, HR director, Ferring Pharmaceuticals
My view is to embrace it. It is about learning from each other, taking in different perspectives and points of view. This will allow one to adapt, have a greater understanding and work collaboratively. When I was stepping into a regional role for a recruitment system implementation, I was tasked to work with individuals from various countries, of different nationalities and levels in management. Acknowledge it and agree a way forward. If it gets in the way, call it out in a respectful way and implement the agreed way of working.
- Sunaina Maharaj, senior business partner, people & culture, Quantium
It’s always a balancing act. I think as HR professionals we need to master the skill to “listen to learn”. This means “listen” and “learn” what an individual is saying, instead of thinking of your response before you’ve really heard them.
- Diane Seaib, group HR manager, COLAS Australia Group

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