Managers, Lean into Personality Conflicts


  • Ignoring difficult personalities to maintain peace causes more harm than you realize
  • Learn how people receive information before having a conversation
  • Get a professional coach to help identify biases and blind spots

Every employee has value they bring to the table; as managers, uncovering the value is challenging when the employee has a personality that conflicts with her own. Unfortunately, most managers tend to avoid people whose personalities clash with theirs to maintain a sense of harmony; however, that person ends up running the department, and if they have a toxic personality, it spreads like cancer within the department. What is the alternative approach?

Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. The best managers focus on building professional relationships with their employees. They become the coach and team motivator by creating an environment that encourages employees to share their thoughts professionally. Managers set the expectations for delivering a message, responding to a message, and acting on a message. They provide guidance and mentorship by sharing with the person how their message is received and how they can say it in another way—this is a gift to that person.

Becoming an expert in navigating personalities does not happen overnight. It takes training and practice, but most importantly, it takes a manager who recognizes personality conflicts are a part of the job and, if neglected, can cause dysfunction in a team and good people to leave.

Below are five tips on how to start by leaning into personality conflicts:

  1. Conduct personality assessments. These assessments give you an idea of how the people on your team like to receive rewards, what type of work stimulates them and sucks their energy, or how they like to receive feedback.
  2. Have a clear understanding of each team member’s roles and responsibilities and set goals and expectations together.
  3. Meet with individual team members at least twice a week to check in and listen to any items of concern they may be experiencing.
  4. Get coaching. Work with a professional coach to help you better understand your biases or blind spots and how to respond when confronted.
  5. Be a people manager. If team members fail to meet expectations, dare to hold the conversation.

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