Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Managing Different Personalities

Managers should be aware of these qualities in order to bring the best out of all of their employees, no matter their personality type.

It’s a common perception that all sales reps are extroverts. In order to sell newspaper ads, you have to be talkative and personable. However, this is a misconception that, if assumed, will do you a disservice as a manager. Although your employees may appear to be extroverts, chances are there are some introverts-at-heart on your staff who turn it on for the job. Therefore, it’s important to understand how to effectively manage different personality types, which is exactly what Butch Ward and Jill Geisler discussed on a recent live chat hosted by Poynter.org.

Ward identified as an introvert, while Geisler is a self-proclaimed extrovert. However, they both agreed that managers too often misinterpret the intentions of their employees based on their personalities. For instance, it would be wrong to think an introvert is uninterested or bored, merely because they don’t always speak up. Likewise, just because extroverts are quick to enter the conversation or answer a question, does not mean they are self-absorbed or not listening. Introverts tend to use their silence as a time to think before responding, whereas extroverts do their thinking aloud.

Managers should be aware of these qualities in order to bring the best out of all of their employees, no matter their personality type. Geisler also warned managers against hiring or promoting employees in their own image. For instance, even if you are an extrovert, that doesn’t mean that, someone who is an introvert isn’t as well qualified for a position. As Geisler said, “We tend to think that we are normal and everyone else is different.” However, if managers abide by that philosophy, they will be doing themselves and their staff a huge disservice.

When asked how to manage or monitor either personality if it is interfering with the employee’s performance, Geisler and Ward had some advice for managers. When it comes to extroverts, Geisler suggest offering honest feedback, like being weary of interrupting others or over-dominating conversations. Similarly, if introverts on your staff seem to be hanging back in meetings or not offering up their opinions, encourage them to speak up. It’s best not to put them on the spot, because introverts tend to want time to think things through and prepare. Consider having them lead a team, but make sure to give them ample time to prepare for presentations and the like.

Ward went on to explain that employees would adopt these good habits if you give them positive feedback. He said, “We need to remember that most people need their managers to tell them the results were positive — they won’t reach that conclusion on their own. Feedback is essential.”

Both Ward and Geisler reaffirmed the importance of understanding the differences between introverts and extroverts and warned against discriminating based on personality. “[Managers] realize they may be mismanaging some of their people — making assumptions about their behavior that are inaccurate,” Ward explained.

 If properly understood, diverse personalities on a staff can actually work to your advantage. Ward went on to say, “Quiet is good. So is the excitement of an idea being brainstormed out loud. Managed well, our different personalities can produce really creative work.”

It’s ultimately in the manager’s hands to create an environment where both personality types can succeed. As Geisler put it, “With a coach who believes in us, great things can happen.”