5 Common Workplace Personalities and How to Manage Them
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By Erika Murigi
Every workplace is home to different kinds of people and personalities. Here are five
common workplace personalities and tips on how to manage them:
The alpha (male or female) seeks dominance. They tend to be very direct and believe
their way is the right way – always. They prefer to take control, want to see immediate
results and are quick to make a decision. While alphas can be incredibly effective
workers and get a lot done, they can intimidate other employees and take uncalculated
Alphas like to control those around them, which could be construed as bullying. If
necessary, keep your distance, as entering into conflict with an alpha is probably not
worth the stress. If you manage an alpha, offer a lot of praise, as alphas like to be
recognized for their accomplishments.
Talking about other people, spreading rumors, creating dramas – this is the one person
in the office who has all the info, factual or otherwise. Gossipers may think their
behavior is a way to connect with others or create a situation they find entertaining.
Whatever the real reason, gossiping is often a sign of insecurity, often of the gossiper’s
The best way to deal with a gossip is to avoid engaging in conversation with that person
or sharing personal details or thoughts about work with them. Also, focus on leading by
example. If they start a gossipy conversation with you, tell them you’re not interested in
gossip or rumors and walk away.
Every workplace has that one person who loves to complain – about everything! In their
attempt to draw you into listening to their problems and complaints, this personality type,
if not dealt with appropriately, can crush morale and leave everyone around them
Dealing with this personality type requires patience. One way to interact with a
complainer is to make constructive suggestions and steer them away from their
complaints or worries. Help them focus on solutions. Another way is to try and
emphasize and offer to help. If neither of these strategies work, set boundaries. If they
try to draw you in, apologize and make it clear that while you know the issue is an
important one, you have to get back work.
Often overly critical and pernickety, controllers tend to have extremely high expectations
– for themselves and those around them. Although their perfectionism and attention to
detail can be valuable in the workplace, their need to control outcomes and situations is
Provide as much detail as possible about situations or projects, as controllers don’t care
for ambiguity or vagueness. Where possible, give controllers a specific task or part of a
project that they can have sole responsibility over and leave them to it.
You know those quiet types. They stick to themselves, eat alone at their desk, avoid
conversations and any sort of get together whether it’s a chat by the water cooler or the
office Christmas party. Non-talkers can be confusing because it’s likely you know little
about them personally or how they feel about their work.
When dealing with non-talkers, it’s important not to force them to communicate or
socialize. Try to take time to get to know them slowly and let them lead. Remember to
acknowledge their professional contribution to the workplace, even if they are not getting
If you’re in a management position, try to understand your staff members’ personality
types and assign tasks that bring out the best in them. There are numerous tests
available that offer insight into personality types. Greater understanding of the
characteristics and needs of different personalities can lead to improved communication,
greater productivity and better team working.