Managing personality styles during a crisis


As humans, our unconscious biases mean that we naturally assume that others work the same way we do. In a remote working environment, that can very easily result in frustrated and disconnected coworkers. The managers who are going to successfully exit a crisis with their team are the ones who can identify the unique work styles of each member and communicate accordingly.

There are three main personality areas to consider when supporting and communicating with your team members in this time, specifically, Social, Emotional, and Task Approach.

1. Social approach (extrovert vs introvert)

How people socialise and interact with others.

Extrovert: These individuals need more social contact, get energy through interactions with others, think by talking through things. They are probably going to struggle more in a remote working situation.

What to do? Offer understanding if they need to make small talk and discuss things, give them a space to think out loud, support regular calls and video chats.

Introvert: These individuals use up energy through interaction, need time and space to themselves, and are happy to work alone. They are going to be more comfortable with working from home, but still need connection.

What to do? Give them space but don’t let them fall off the grid, drop them an email, text, etc, ask if they want to chat, avoid overwhelming them with calls.

 2. Emotional approach (emotional vs stoic)

How people respond emotionally and relate to others.

Emotional: These individuals are great at relating with others, but also sensitive to danger and threat, need emotional support. They are going to be more sensitive to the stress around crises and feeling it more.

What to do? Make sure you check in with these team members, ask if they are ok, offer empathy and support. Encourage a positive home routine, e.g. daily exercise. Promote  EAP/psychology services if these are available.

Stoic: These individual are independent, more centred in their emotion and less affected by things. They are going to be more stoic and come across as resilient.

What to do? Get them to help build up the resilience of the team, serve as stabilising force. However, still need to do a check in, because they might be feeling the impact but not articulating it or seeking support.

3. Task approach (conscientious vs delegating)

How people get things done and go about their day.

Conscientious: These individuals are structured and planful, thorough, and keep working to get things done. They are likely to be more focused and on task.

What to do? The risk here is that they might work too much, so encourage them to take care not to burnout, schedule in frequent breaks. Make sure they lock in a time to stop working.

Delegating: These individuals are more unstructured and require external motivation. They might struggle with the lack of structure or keeping on task at this time.

What to do? Encourage a weekly timeline of plans to keep them focused, e.g. get them to write down their goals for the week. Schedule daily standup meetings, e.g. what are our 3 priorities to complete today?

Conclusion: Tailor your approach to manage effectively

Consider these three personality styles and which team members require different techniques – this helps you identify what kind of support to offer, and how best to get what you need from them work-wise.

If you have well-validated personality profiles for your team members, use the insights to support you. Avoid using tools that classify people into one type, as these will prevent you from taking appropriate and targeted action.

This article was written by Ryan Ng, Pyschologist and Founder of TalentIdenitfy – providing on-demand insights about the people in your team to help you identify their work styles and what they need to continue remain connected in this time.