Don’t let a personality clash cripple your business

One of the biggest HR risks to any government, or private/corporate organisation, (and indeed individual units/branches) is team disharmony.  Call it what you will; disunity, toxicity, ineffective teams or leadership, or fractured work environments.  Whatever it is, it has the potential to cause much harm to your operations.  Often, in more high pressure and demanding work, these issues can spill over and cause significant issues, hurting your bottom line.

A lot of the time it comes down to personality. But what exactly is it and how can you address it?

A person’s personality is their pattern of thoughts, emotions and behaviours that characterise them, along with the psychological processes that accompany these characteristics.  Different personalities in the workplace are a challenge for leaders and managers and the organisations themselves. The conflict caused by different personalities can be detrimental to culture and ultimately productivity.

We’re not talking about extroverts and the “quiet girl in accounting” here. Being able to identify personalities, adapt leadership styles, bring teams together and form a shared vision is the goal.  Getting younger (gen X,Y) employees to see the world the same way as a baby boomer can be a real challenge.  We’ve all heard of the workplace Narcissists and Psychopaths. These terms are often heard informally in a workplace context (particularly when discussing managers) and have a negative effect on workplace culture, morale and productivity. And then there are some staff who like nothing more than to cause waves.

 But there are tools and training to help.

Also, building more resilient employees can go a long way towards better empathy, co-operation and teamwork.

So you’ve identified a problem… now what?

First, ensure it is a personality issue and not something more serious (like bullying or sexual harassment).  Some organisations refer to personality issues and team conflict as “grievances.”  There should be a policy and procedure for that.  Secondly, examine ways to fix it, and, no, this doesn’t mean a formal investigation.  We know the implications and pressure this can have.  Ultimately, gather evidence and deal with the issue as an outcome (outcome focused investigation) rather than evidence based.

Most of us know about performance management but fail to deal with conduct management. These are two different things, although can be interrelated.  Conduct management is often overlooked by managers who have problems having difficult conversations.   It often falls into the “too hard” basket. 

However, conduct management can be an effective tool to address stray personalities, address issues between team members, create common goals and, well… just get along better.

And, as always, ensure you document your actions, and any performance improvements placed on staff.   If you don’t, this will come back to haunt you.

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