9 office personalities and how to navigate them

Different personalities at the office

For many of us hybrid workers, we simply don't spend as much time interacting with our co-workers in person as in pre-Covid days and that can make us less adept at coping with the melting pot of office personalities.

They say that "variety is the spice of life". When it comes to effective team working, nothing could be truer.

Research into ways to improve team productivity is plentiful. Myers-Briggs-type questionnaires give us insight into our personalities, while Kolb's research helps us to categorise our learning styles. All this information can be useful, not only in helping us to understand our colleagues better but also helping us to understand ourselves and find areas for self-development.

Belbin's research shows us that all teams need 9 different team roles to work effectively together. Miss one out and the team may become dysfunctional. Deadlines may be missed. Solutions may lack creativity.

Each of the 9 office personalities has a role to play and should be embraced. Here we talk about how to recognise these different office personalities and how you can work with them to achieve your team's goals. Remember too that most people are a mixture of these personality types and recognising everyone's unique value is key.

The Plant

Prefers to work alone

People who fall into this category tend to be creative thinkers, but they may prefer to work alone and may not communicate effectively.

Why they're great for your team:

They think outside the box and find creative solutions that no one else thought of.

How you can support them:

Give them time to think things through. Then, encourage them to share their ideas and to listen to others objectively.

The Monitor Evaluator

The Monitor Evaluator relies on facts and logic to make decisions, but sometimes, they'll forget that their co-workers have feelings.

Why they're great for your team:

They make decisions objectively and don't rely on their gut instincts, which can cut through disagreements and personality clashes.

Office disagreement

How you can support them:

Gently remind them of the 80-20 rule from time to time to help them prioritise tasks, otherwise, they may get bogged down in their need for all the facts before reaching a decision.

The Specialist

Every team has at least one Specialist. The "go-to" person on a particular topic (quite often, how to use Zoom / Word / insert your team's application of choice!). Although they tend to be introverted, once you get them talking about their subject matter, they'll be a fount of knowledge.

Why they're great for your team:

Having a Specialist on your team means that you can get in-depth answers to critical topics much quicker than if your team only had general knowledge between them.

How you can support them:

Encourage your Specialist to see the big picture, so they don't get lost in the weeds. Make sure the rest of the team understands that the Specialist is much more than their subject matter and help them avoid being pigeonholed.

Resource Investigator

Outgoing and confident at work

Outgoing and extroverted, resource investigators are those seemingly magical people in our teams who always seem to be able to source exactly what we need to get the job done. They usually have a large network of contacts that they can delve into.

Why they're great for your team:

Get the resources you need, when you need them – sometimes before you know you need them!

How you can support them:

Encourage them to share their findings with the rest of the team. Their enthusiasm will be infectious! Keep them engaged as Resource Investigators can lose momentum as their enthusiasm burns out.

The Teamworker

The Teamworker plays a vital coordination role in your team. They're usually a people person and get on well with everyone in the team. They're flexible, hard-working and love working collaboratively.

Why they're great for your team:

They're great at getting to the root of problems between colleagues and helping everyone to get along.

How you can support them:

At times, Teamworkers may become indecisive as they strive to avoid making unpopular decisions. Helping them to understand that their decisions won't be taken personally by their co-workers is a great way to help them overcome this reluctance.

The Coordinator

Well organised at work

Usually, the Coordinator is a very organised person, who understands the team's objectives and delegates work to ensure that everything gets done within the timeframe.

Why they're great for your team:

Organised is the Coordinator's middle name! They're brilliant at getting the best out of their colleagues so that the whole team can achieve its objective.

How you can support them:

If your Co-ordinator has been performing this role for a while, it may be time to encourage them into a coaching role on the next project. By taking a step back from delegating, he or she can take on more of a team player role, while actively coaching another team member in the role of coordination. Win-win!

The Shaper

Every team needs a Shaper. A person who motivates us to keep going and drives us towards the final outcome.

Why they're great for your team:

Shapers are incredibly effective in seeing tasks through to the end, and they'll bring the rest of the team with them, whether they like it or not.

How you can support them:

In their single-mindedness to get the job done, they can neglect empathy for their colleagues. When that happens, they'll need reminding that they're working with people, not robots.

Team leader at the office

The Implementer

After all the brainstorming is done, the new ideas bounced around and the blue-sky thinking is completed, how do the ideas get turned into actions? Enter the Implementer. He or she is the perfect person to turn the ideas into a plan of attack.

Why they're great for your team:

If your entire team were made up of Plants, you'd have a whole lot of ideas and not a lot of action. The Implementor makes sure your team has a strategy for getting things done.

How you can support them:

Implementers can loathe a change in the plans. Help them to see the benefits, even if it's a slow burn.

The Completer Finisher

Perfectionist working late at work

Sometimes known as a perfectionist, the Completer Finisher has an eye for detail. They'll dot the "i's" and cross the "t's", so you can all relax at the end of a project and know it was a job well done.

Why they're great for your team:

The Completer Finisher makes sure your team delivers a high-quality end product, every time.

How you can work with them:

This is another team member who may need reminding about the 80-20 rule. Of course, high standards are important, but so too is efficient delivery. It's important for the Completer Finisher to learn when to draw the line.

Know yourself, know your team

Understanding your own office personality (which can be a completely different persona from your personal life), as well as those of your colleagues, puts you in a better position to work cohesively together. What motivates you may be very different to what motivates your colleagues. Accepting that we all have different team roles to play will help to improve the effectiveness of our teams.

Perhaps you've found yourself strongly identifying with one of the office personality types. Recognising your preferences can help you to identify areas for development – why not try taking a different team role on your next project? It's amazing what you can learn by stepping outside your comfort zone.

Read next: Your guide to workplace happiness