Thursday, August 27, 2009

Employee Personalities & Communication

Good communication skills -- whether in a marriage, family or work environment -- are necessary if progression or peace is important to us. If we spend our time resolving differences and combating everyone we encounter, no energy will be left to actually pursue positive endeavors. And if we're the boss, the same philosophy would apply to our employees. If they're always bickering, skirmishing over personality differences, don't count on much productivity. We're emotional creatures and emotions -- when strong enough -- can rule and overpower our more rational parts of our brains. Not only is squabbling a tiresome activity, but as a boss it can affect our bottom line -- money. As an employer we can screen our employees by performing background checks and psychological assessments, thus ensuring we don't hire a criminal or someone perhaps prone to deviant behavior. But still, we can't predict everything and when personalities clash, the tempers and passive manipulative behaviors can overrun the work environment. Psychological assessments can help in determining the personalities we'll be hiring but as a boss it's important to know how to interact with these personalities and even encourage all employees to brush up on their communication skills.

A good example of what we want to avoid was a story from the U.K. An investigation into council chiefs' severance pay was being conducted. Apparently these pay-offs were as large as five hundred thousand pounds and there had been concern that these departures were because of personality clashes with elected officials -- an expensive payment for a personality clash (Read the full story here).

Before we can learn how to better communicate, we need to understand who we're communicating with. We all make jokes about Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus but just as we may baulk at the notion, we know there's some truth to it. And within the same theme, there are core personality traits that can sway and even define a person's behavior. Let's look at some specific employee personalities. We have those employees who suffer from delusions of grandeur -- they can do no wrong, or the brown-nosers -- the overly ambitions high-achievers, and finally the deaf ones -- they're unreceptive, deaf to any conversations as if they'd never taken place. Obviously with each personality we'd need to deal with communication differently. Maybe the deaf ones aren't really deaf at all but rather our communication was unclear. Our kings and queens assume they're perfect so communication should not be construed as an attack, and the high-achievers perhaps need a blunt talking to -- chill out.

So we understand that we're all unique -- just as our mothers always told us -- and with that, communication is unique in every circumstance. For an effective communication dynamic for different personalities, let's start by changing what we do and then regardless of high-achievers, brown-nosers or deaf ones -- we are the ones promoting a strong communicative relationship. Let's keep what's already working and add communication skills as we encounter different personalities. This should help ensure a cohesive working environment and thus remain a productive work environment, setting the tone for all employees.

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