A business office is, in some ways, like a machine. When it’s working well, it’s smooth sailing, the cogs turning, the end product exactly as it should be. If something isn’t working well, then the rest of the process can take on more and pick up the slack.
Of course, many offices just… well, there’s no nice way of putting it: they’re just not like that at all. Offices tend to cause problems, due in no small part for humanity’s penchant for office gossip, arguments and in-fighting. When you just work in an office that’s part and parcel of the problem, but when it’s your business and your company on the line? That kind of dismissive attitude just won’t do.
One of the best ways to counteract the worst impulses of your employees is to make sure you hire on personality and skills. Of course, you have to hire people on merit and their ability to do their job – but that’s not necessarily the only thing you should be concerned with. Someone might be the most qualified and experienced in the world, but that doesn’t mean they will be productive or a positive influence on the people around them. At worst, they might be a negative influence, and you’d have been better off hiring someone a little less qualified but who fit into your office structure more productively.
To get the right blend for your office, you need different personalities. If everyone is too passive, then nothing is going to get done. On the flip side, if everyone is too extreme and “go getter” in their nature – perhaps even bordering on aggressively ambitious – then that’s a problem too. You’ll find that your office descends into competition, rather than everyone working together to achieve the main goal.
So, what’s the perfect mix? While you might not be able to create an office based entirely off this blueprint for the ideal blend, with careful recruitment you can get close to it. Keep this in mind the next time you’re hiring, all as part of an effort to see your office as an ecosystem that needs to work together to get any work done at all.
Personality Type One: The Carer
Let’s start with the kind of personality you might have overlooked, especially if you’re in a fast paced environment.
Every office needs someone who is empathetic and understanding. That’s not to say they should be a pushover, of course – there’s a difference. They should be considerate of others and, most importantly, eager to resolve office disagreements.
This kind of personality isn’t going to describe themselves as having the business buzzwords you might usually look for on a resume, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a vital asset. They can be the balancing, calming effect on your office, helping to keep their colleagues in line while continuing on their own efforts with neat precision.
Personality Type Two: The Achiever
Not only does The Achiever have an ability to always strive to be the best in your industry, they’ve got a few other tricks up their sleeve too. They’re likely to have extra learning and certifications, be it self-taught web design, a CPR certification that makes them a natural office health guru, or be particularly adept at sport. They know a lot, and they’re not afraid to share it – they’ll show off their CPR technique during lunch or teach a colleague to play tennis with enthusiasm. This is the person who is always fundraising for something, and never seems to sit still for more than five minutes.
Importantly, this type of personality is not aggressive in seeking their aims. They like to do well, but they’re not going to knock over other people in an attempt to get there. They can work well in a team and – in the perfect scenario – help to encourage others to do the same.
How to find them? Their underlying personality will usually be all over their CV, in mentions of awards and accolades. Question them further on these at interview and you will soon get an idea if they fit the brief or not. Bear in mind that their extra qualifications and extracurricular activities might be something you can utilize for the sake of your business, so don’t overlook them
Personality Type Three: The Agitator
Are you currently looking at that and thinking it would be madness to have an Agitator in your office? The truth is, it might well be, but it also might be necessity.
This kind of personality could also be described as ruthless. They primarily seek to look after their own interests, but this can work to your benefit if they see that their interests align neatly with your company’s. They might not be the most pleasant person to have in an office; they are often loud and brusque, would describe themselves as “adventurous” or make reference to enjoying a bit of banter. They might on some levels seem like the worst employee imaginable – but they’re not.
They’re necessary because you can’t have an office full of people who are just looking to do good in quiet ways. You need someone who isn’t afraid to say the unthinkable and encourage people to be better, even if that encouragement just comes in the form of ribbing and derision. Of course you should always look to encourage your employees through inspiration, but you might find a nudge from an annoying colleague is just as effective at getting the best from everyone else.
More than any of the other personality traits, you have to be very careful with The Agitator. Don’t put them into any positions that give them undue power, because the chances are they will exploit it. Keep them as an underling with responsibilities to a boss and you should be able to control their worst impulses.
You’ll know them instantly when they come to interview; these personalities are not exactly wallflowers! The best indicator is often the volume at which they speak; Agitators like to be heard, so they are probably speaking louder than would be considered standard etiquette. As a result they might irritate you on a personal level, but they’re just what your office needs.
Personality Type Four: The Focuser
The Focuser is the details person. While everyone else around them might drift off on flights of fancy about what’s possible, planning a project more in concept than anything realistic, this personality is a realist. Before anyone gets too carried away, they are going to want to drill down into the facts to ensure everything that is being proposed is possible.
They tend to be analytical by nature, always studying and learning about your company process and how to get the best from it. They might not be the most engaging of people; they are often introverted by nature and you might find it difficult to get to know them beneath their professional facade – but that’s okay. You don’t need a friend; you need someone who is always going to be willing to scrutinize details to ensure no time is wasted on flights of fancy.
Despite how vital they are, it can actually be quite difficult to identify a Focuser when it comes to interview. They will usually have a decent CV which is well-researched, full of the kind of comments that you’ll see people should include on their CV. They might be relatively quiet at interview, but will still talk with a confidence, radiating a sense of proficiency even when just discussing the weather.
How They Mix
While your office will contain many other personalities – depending on its size, of course – the above four are the dream when it comes to getting the right blend. If you can identify them and nurture the best from their natural traits, then ultimately, it’s going to be your company that benefits