How to Identify and Work with the Nine Different Personality Types of Your Employees

by Frank Roche on September 30, 2010

in Business, Careers, Communication, Diversity, KnowHR, Writing

Take a minute to think about the personalities of your closest friends. Chances are it’s a mix of a lot of individual character types—but do you know how many? According to the Enneagram Theory, developed in 750 B.C., there are nine distinct personalities. And that theory has stuck. A couple thousand years later, popular author and speaker named Michael Goldberg has developed his own theory—that these same types comprise your at-work personalities. Understanding them can help you develop better relationships and more productivity within the workplace. And since the IRS and CIA have both consulted him to help out with identifying their employees, chances are, he’s right.  Here’s how to identify who’s who in your own office.

The Perfectionist
The perfectionist knows exactly what they want, and when they want it. According to him or her, there’s only one way to get the job done: their way. You may find them critical and judgmental, yet intriguing. Think Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada,” the fictionalized portrayal of real-life Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.

The Helper
You know that person who needs to be needed and always wants to help? That’s the helper. This person’s main concern is to please others, and helpers enjoy knowing that their work is appreciated. It’s a good chance that the helpers are your most loyal workers. They also bring out the best in others, which makes them indispensable.

The Producer
Producers are your motivating team players. Think of them as your office “yes” men. They always get the job done, and they always get it done right. No task is too big or too small. Because of this sense of accomplishment, producers give off the same degree of confidence (maybe mixed with a bit of cockiness) that you might see in a team captain.

The Connoisseur
The artistes of the bunch, Connoisseurs just want to explore their deepest passions and be understood. They are the sensitive ones, often basing their decisions on intuition. Their creativity brings a positive force to any project as intellectual stimulators.

The Sage
The observers. The listeners. Sages are the quiet ones of the group, but they always pay attention to the details. They are very self-motivated and intense. Like Connoisseurs, sages can be quite creative, even brilliant. Though sometimes it may take awhile for others to recognize that brilliance—just look at Tim Burton.

The Troubleshooter
“Always prepared” should be the motto of the Troubleshooter. With a need for safety and security, Troubleshooters often worry about what could go wrong instead of what could go right. But this means they anticipate and prepare for every possibility. And don’t try to sneak anything past them—they’ll be able to pick out your hidden agenda.

The Visionary
New and innovative ideas start here. You’ll also find Visionaries to be very optimistic. But be careful—sometimes get so caught up in their own ideas that they can seem narcissistic. In reality, their minds are just moving a mile a minute, so they tend to overlook what’s going on around them.

The Top Dog
Boss. Leader. Challenger. These are words you’d most likely associate with the Top Dog. The Top Dog wants to achieve power and maintain control. They are perceived as strong individuals who are never afraid of confrontation.

The Mediator
The Mediators are the dealmakers and compromisers of your office. They are completely uncomfortable with confrontation. Instead, you’ll notice they tend to merge sides to avoid conflict. This also makes them great at empathizing with others.

As you can see, it’s important to have many different types of people playing for your team to get the most well-rounded approach to your business savvy. Even though everybody might not get along, everyone is a beneficial piece to the office puzzle. Can you identify the diversity in your department? When you do, make sure you praise the Helpers and keep out of the Top Dog’s way.

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