Navigating the Clash: 8 ways to manage different personalities in your team

Clashing personality types can have a detrimental effect on morale and productivity. They often go on too long and remain unresolved, either because underlying problems aren’t addressed or the focus is on changing one’s personality rather than working with it. There are ways to manage different personalities in a workplace that can help in avoiding squabbles.

It is rare to have a team where everyone immediately gets along and works well together. Your colleagues need time to understand their peers’ processes and habits. However, sometimes it seems two people simply cannot reconcile their differences. If you keep a close eye on the situation it can be dealt with before anything gets out of hand. There are many ways clashing personalities can be managed.

1. Give team members clearly defined roles

Giving clearly defined roles is essential in ensuring employees do not feel they are being pinned against each other. If everyone understands their unique responsibilities they can focus on the task and role they have been given, avoiding the ‘I was told John was doing that task, not me’ conversations. By doing this, members of the team will be able to put all their focus on the task and role they have been given. This will take the focus away from any conflict there may be within the team and reduce the risk of a personality clash.

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2. Strive towards a team goal

Help people put their differences aside for the purpose of successfully achieving the goal, this can boost morale and have a positive effect on the team by giving them the sense of accomplishment which needs to be encouraged by management.

3. Don’t avoid the clash

As a manager, any type of conflict, especially personality disagreements, needs to be dealt with head on. Be tactful about it though, don’t “beat around the bush” but don’t be confronting either. Be positive and confident that the issue can be fixed. Remember, you are all part of the same team.

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4. Get to know the different personality types in your team

Having a diverse workforce makes for an array of diverse personality types. This is an ideal situation for any organisation. Creativity and ingenuity rarely emerge from a team that all think alike. Companies benefit from the exchange of ideas and even intelligent arguments. However, with that said, there will be a few people in this group who will not see eye to eye with other members.

This is why team members should take time to learn the different personality types in the group. As a leader, you could even ask your team to complete a Myer Briggs test as a start. But always be careful not to envelope everyone in a blanket of stereotypes. The personality test is used only as an introductory guide.

Knowing the different personalities of your team can lead to very successful and positive outcomes.You will know that teaming up “Sarah” who has a very assertive personality with “John” who also has a very assertive personality may not be the best idea. Keep track of who works well together and who has trouble working with others. With most tasks requiring teamwork you may have to talk to this person about their aversion to working with others and find work that suits their independence or, better yet, help him or her to develop rapport and camaraderie with colleagues.

5. Compromise

Sometimes all that is needed is to find some middle ground for a clash of personalities. This can have a very positive effect on the team and individuals. At the end of the day there is no right or wrong personality only right or wrong ways of dealing with the disagreements. Compromise is by far the easiest, most successful and non-confrontational way to deal this this type of conflict.

6. Remain calm and positive

Act as if it will blow over and eventually it will. Try not to emphasise the issue too much, particularly around other employees. They should know that childish behaviour is not acceptable in your team but also understand that not everyone always gets on. Your team will respect your level-headedness and will have more confidence in your management abilities.

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7. Strengthen the bonds with team building activities

Team building activities are a great way of solving work problems outside of the office. Solving problems and interacting with one another without the pressure of deadlines can often resolve issues between employees. It is a good way to see how people work on different types of tasks and learning the strengths and weaknesses of your teammates. Bike build for kids, for example, is a great activity for working together with a really important goal and putting egos aside. Minute to win it is a great team building activity for acknowledging everyone’s unique qualities and personalities. Particularly after a day at a conference or other team building activities, taking your team out of the office can do a world of good.

8. Assess whether they’re the right fit for the team

You will occasionally get a team member that just doesn’t work well in a team. They can be confrontational, aggressive, argumentative or just a bully. If their presence causes stress and anxiety within the team, this will also bring down morale and cohesiveness and will create a toxic environment. The problematic person should go through coaching and mentoring and should be open to changing his or her perspective for the good of the organisation. It’s better to be open with these issues and to set expectations. If there is no development even after a period of time, then you might have to make a difficult decision of letting that person go.

There is no one way of managing a clash.

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There is no foolproof way of managing personality clashes. Every clash has its own unique backstory so it is impossible to develop one system. Learning how to manage and embrace different personalities is the best way to combat the issue, this comes down to your own management and leadership skills.

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