In fun-loving, Halloween-celebrating workplaces across the country, employees showed up today dressed as blood-sucking vampires, lumbering zombies, mischievous clowns and full-grown babies. Donning elaborate makeup, masks, outfits and accessories, many of us get a kick out of this once-a-year opportunity to shed our normal persona and “try on” an alter ego.
But this got me thinking. How different, really, are some of the characters we're seeing today from what we see daily at work? I don’t know about you, but I’ve encountered vampires, zombies, clowns and babies in the workplace on many occasions. They're just cleverly disguised in office attire and regular routines. On good days, these creatures can create an interesting, challenging work environment; on bad days, they can be downright frustrating and confusing. But people are people, so we all have to learn to get along no matter how ghoulish the circumstances. In smart, well-functioning workplaces, it definitely pays to play off each others' strengths (while understanding weaknesses) to keep peace and productivity humming along.
According to author Francie Dalton, founder and president of Dalton Alliances, Inc., a Maryland-based business consulting firm specializing in communication, management and behavioral sciences, most coworkers fall under these general personality types:
Curt and controlling, commanders don't waste time on niceties. While they don't mean to offend, they often forsake tact to get their point across. As bosses, commanders often fail to delegate important assignments and as subordinates, they can seem overly aggressive. “Value and validate commanders for their ability to overcome obstacles, to implement, and to achieve results,” says Dalton.
Averse to structure, drifters often have trouble with rules, work hours and deadlines. They lose track of details and can neglect to see a project through to completion. While they're warm and affable, their disorganization can be off-putting. “Value and validate drifters for their innovation and creativity, their ability to improvise on a moment's notice, and their out-of-the-box thinking,” says Dalton.
Ill-tempered and contemptuous, attackers can have a dampening effect on workplace morale. They tend to criticize others in public, believing themselves to be superior. “Value and validate attackers for their ability to take on the ugly, unpopular assignments no one else has the mettle to do, and for their ability to make unemotional decisions,” says Dalton.
Considerate, sociable and friendly, pleasers rarely deny the requests of others and think of colleagues as extended family members. They have trouble coping with conflict, avoiding it as much as they can. “Value and validate pleasers for the way they humanize the workplace, and for their helpful, collaborative work style,” says Dalton.
Witty, charismatic and outspoken, performers engage and entertain others in the workplace. They are skillful at promoting themselves, taking credit - even when it's not due - for successful projects and appearing to be in a rush to get important things done. “Value and validate performers for their ability to establish new relationships, and for their persuasive and public speaking skills,” says Dalton.
Clinging to the status quo, avoiders shy away from increased responsibility because they fear it will make them more visible and accountable. Reticent and reserved, they thrive when working alone and establishing safe, closed-off environments. They do as they're told and do not take initiative. “Value and validate avoiders for their reliability, for their meticulous attention to your instructions, and for getting the job done right the first time, every time,” says Dalton.
Meticulous, thorough and cautious, analyticals can get mired in details. When presented with a new idea, they tend to focus on the reasons why it will fail and should not be pursued. They feel compelled to check, doublecheck and triplecheck their work for any inaccuracies. “Value and validate analyticals for their commitment to accuracy, and for their ability to anticipate and evaluate risk far enough in advance to allow risks to be reduced,” says Dalton.
So here’s wishing you all a Happy Halloween – and a workplace where attackers and analyticals, witches and werewolves, can put aside their differences and get along! Wouldn’t that be a treat?