Every team is made up of different personality types, and some demand more time and attention from the leaders who manage them than others. As every team leader knows, there’s no hard and fast management strategy that fits every kind of employee. Short of that, though, there's a rough framework managers can use to decide how to direct their energy toward getting the most out of all the personalities on their teams. Here’s a quick rundown of eight of the most common personality types and how to manage each one.
Every team has a few obviously rising talents. They noticeably, and for the most part independently, come up with ways to improve how their jobs are done. It’s clear these stars will be moving on to bigger and better things in the future.
Leadership Strategy: Promote internally. Acknowledge their reliable performance and reduce the amount of supervision you provide these few—it's better spent elsewhere. Your goal should be to help them advance toward their career goals while giving them enough room to grow to make sure they don't leave for more enticing positions.
These aren't your team's top innovators, but they're among its most competent—amazing producers who rarely complain and never seem to need much assistance. You can always count on them to get their jobs done on time and well. They enjoy their jobs, have been doing them well for years, and seem content to stay in them just about indefinitely.
Leadership Strategy: Nurture in place. As a manager of this personality type, your goal is to keep them feeling valued and happy in their current role while also finding new challenges to help them continue to grow at their own pace.
These folks may produce above average results, but they consume outsize resources to do it. Not only do they frequently need help fixing problems and figuring out how to do their jobs, they're regularly asking for more support, budget, or staff.
Leadership Strategy: Wean patiently. You need these folks to keep delivering the good results they've shown themselves capable of while reducing the resources they eat up in order to get there. Encourage more independence by challenging them to solve problems they would otherwise toss into your lap.
These team members produce strong results but also make a lot of noise delivering them. Still, like the "squeaky wheels," they get the job done. What sets them apart is their attitude. They barrel through any hurdles and step on a lot of toes. You'd rather not lose them or their relentless drive, but you wish they were a little less pugnacious.
Leadership Strategy: Reduce the friction. "Steamrollers" take some coaching to become better collaborators and more sensitive to the company culture. Show them how to temper their approach to get the same results while reducing the toll their actions take on others.
Most teams have at least a handful of these. They show up to work, but that’s about it. If they don't bother you as a manager, it's only because they're comfortable producing the bare minimum to stay out of trouble.
Leadership Strategy: Engage. Your goal is to get more from this type of employee than they're used to delivering. Increase the amount of time you spend with them, discussing the responsibilities of the job and the support they need to do it. If they can't improve their performance enough to meet your expectations, you should shift your focus to managing them out of that role so you can get someone in it who meets all the organization’s needs.
These people are highly engaged, like coming to work, and bring lots of energy to the office. They come up with all kinds of ideas for extracurricular activities and run with them in a visible, all-consuming way. The problem is you don’t see any real results in the main responsibilities they were hired to perform.
Leadership Strategy: Refocus. Get these team members back on track tackling their core duties. Assess why they aren't focused on the right things. Reassign or put a stop to some of the social projects they're devoting their energies to. Recognize their contributions to team morale, but remind them of what they're there to do and turn the focus on their progress on business-related work.
The 10% of your team that consumes 90% of your leadership capital. These people claim to work hard and long and make sure everyone knows it, but they still don’t get their jobs done properly. You have to double-check everything they do. Their work is often late, incomplete, and sometimes flat-out wrong. They've proved they don’t have all the skills they need for the job they're in.
Leadership Strategy: Fill in the skill gaps. Your need to get these people out of the "square peg" box in the short-term, either by helping them rapidly improve their skill-set or redeploying them to another role they might be better suited to.
On paper, these workers have all the required skills. But in practice, they just don't get results. They seem to be content knowing how to do their job instead of actually doing it. You frequently have to push them and check on their progress.
Leadership Strategy: Motivate. They might not look it, but sometimes the slackers are your potential high-risk, high-return leadership investments. Your goal is to get them to perform at the levels they're capable of. The main thing holding them back is motivation, so if you can figure out how to excite and inspire them, you might be able to turn lead into gold.
This article is adapted from Lead Inside The Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results, co-authored by Mike Figliuolo, managing director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC, who blogs about leadership at the thoughtLEADERS blog. It is reprinted with permission.