Managing Personalities

In our previous posting we said “ Look at the personalities of those you employ to check that they'll all work well together and will foster positive attitudes.” Which means that an effective Project Manager needs to be more than an expert in the field they're working in – but also needs to be effective at managing the personalities of the staff in their charge. So, what sort of challenges might that present to a Project Manager?

Which of your staff see a glass half full or half empty?

Managing the quiet one.

Every team has one – the quiet one that’s always there, works more hours than anyone else, is the source of knowledge and help to many others, always has a smile, never complains and is generally just a great guy or gal. The management issue here is making sure that they are truly happy with what they’re doing, do not feel over-worked/stresses or that they feel they’re just the projects gofer. Why? Well such a person can be invaluable to the success of your project and you don’t want them suddenly being off with stress or leaving to join another company. Being the quiet one and getting on with their job is great for you, but there quietness could be storing up trouble for the future; so invest some time in them, encouraging and supporting them in their work and not letting them become overloaded with tasks.

Managing the project gossip.

Gossips come in two forms – the downright malicious and the friendly chatty ones. A downright malicious gossip needs to be firmly told to watch what they’re saying or they can quickly destroy the team spirit you’ve been fostering. A chatty friendly gossip will invariably be popular with other staff as they’ll seem to be a great source of ‘inside’ information on what’s going on and will impart their supposed knowledge in a friendly/jokey manner. The problem is, as with the malicious gossip, what they’re saying will at best be inaccurate if not simply wrong. This character needs first warning that perhaps they spend a little too much time at the water cooler, metaphorically at least. If that doesn’t work then take them on one side and relate to them how harmful gossip can be to your teams morale. If those approaches don’t work, for either gossip, then begin disciplinary procedures.

Managing the ambitious climber.

Capable and keen, this member of staff can seem difficult to keep challenged in their job. This personality will take on any task you offer them, so you need to work more on developing a career path with them, inside the current company or another – rather than just giving them more and more and ever diverse tasks to do. This will invariably involve them studying for further qualifications which, in the long run, will be of benefit to them and your project if a long term one.