A Worker’s Temperament Impacts the Workplace

June 25th, 2012

Society gains from diversity.  The workplace gains from diversity.  It does no one any good to surround themselves with people who are “just like me”.  History is littered with examples of high profile politicians who fell from grace because they surrounded themselves with sycophants.  Instead, surround yourself with others who have the complementary skills and diverse viewpoints needed to bring your organization to the “next level”.  No one needs a Dwight Schrute in the office; the result can be stagnation, missed opportunities and lack of motivation.  Well-managed, diverse teams lead to high performing, collaborative teams which leads to results and a healthy bottom line.

This is where peoples’ temperaments and personalities come into play.  Temperament is your basic, inherited style; it is not learned.  Personality is acquired on top of temperament.  Two people can have the same temperament, but (due to various environmental and lifestyle factors) can have different personalities.

Raising awareness about these variations in temperament and personality types can help everyone become more effective in the workplace.

However, not all of us are psychologists and, therefore, may not understand the differences. One way to understand and capitalize on each other’s differences is to use a formal assessment instrument, such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.  However, in the absence of a formal assessment, it is always good to educate managers that temperament and personality differences are not good or bad – they are just differences.

There are widely considered to be four different temperament types (and they go by a variety of names):

1.  Decisive, Rational Choleric, NT – Energetic, forceful, independent and opinionated.  They thrive on activity and are “doers”.  They are the most natural leaders out of the 4 personality types.  Downsides include impatience, a tendency towards anger, and an inability of delegate. They may become impatient in meetings, and may be unaware of the effect they have on others.

2. Influencing of Others, Artisan, Sanguine, SP – Cheerful, talkative, emotional and enthusiastic.  They have good people-skills and a confident and spontaneous style. They are emotional and communicative by nature and might be called a “super extrovert”.  Downsides include tendencies towards arrogance, self-indulgence, and a lack of discipline.

3.  Steady, Idealist, Phlegmatic, NF – Relaxed and easy going and not easily disturbed.  They are usually considered reliable and capable; they easily see the bigger picture, and therefore can be good mediators.  However, even though they tend to work well under pressure, deadlines are needed.  They sometimes find it hard to speak up in the workplace and have a tendency to avoid conflict. They are the most timid of the personality types.

4. Conscientious, Guardian, Melancholic, SJThoughtful and sensitive towards the needs of others. They are often deep, philosophical, self-sacrificing and conscientious, but they can be self-critical and prone to depression.  At work they are organized and goal-oriented and maintain high standards. They can, however, be resistant to change unless there is a good precedent.

Now the idea of this exercise is not to generalize people.  We are all a blend of these four types, with one (and maybe two) being dominant.  Training, lifestyle, childhood experience, education and health all play a part in molding our personalities and differentiating us.  However, understanding the dynamics associated with personality and temperament does play a key role in how we can build better work teams.

Snelling can help you find this best fit.  We work with you to create the best fit between an employee’s skill set and personality and your hiring objectives and culture.  So visit us today at www.snelling.comto find your local Snelling office, where our talented staffing managers can create a workplan to move you in the right direction.

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available. 

Leave a Reply