Cult of Personality Part II: How to Treat Your Team’s Traits

Photo by Icons8 team

Ok, managers – here’s a question for you. Do you consider dealing with a diverse range of personalities one of the most pleasurable perks of your job?

Thought so. And if you took us up on our suggestion (see our previous post) of taking a closer look at your team’s conflicting characteristics, you’ve no doubt realised just how challenging this aspect of your role is. So as promised, this week we’re going to discuss how you can use an understanding of personality to change behaviour and encourage effective work habits. After all, even if you’re still questioning Gretchen Rubin’s Tendencies (or rebelling over the fact that we set you a bit of homework), we’re pretty confident that everyone’s open to exploring strategies for increasing personal and collective success.

Rubin’s big on strategies, too. In fact, she lists 21 strategies which she suggests can make or break habits. And great minds think alike: many of her strategies mirror the PEP principles we know and love (the “Strategy of Clarity”, for example, may sound familiar). So here’s the practical part. Read on for a few PEP-style pointers on how to take each team member’s Tendency into account:


Upholders require clear expectations and accountabilities to perform their roles, explains PEPworldwide:nz managing director Kathryn Anda. “At the same time, they just like to get things done. So ensure that you are meeting with them regularly to clarify what they should be working on. They will complete tasks with minimal supervision – they have no trouble meeting deadlines if they know what’s expected of them.”


It takes time to convince Questioners why they should be undertaking a task, says Anda. “In a busy environment, they can be frustrating to manage. However, they are also intellectually engaged, and their tendency to query the way of doing things can be very helpful as they often identify new, improved processes.” The key to managing Questioners is to be patient, she says. “Once again, clarity is essential. Try to answer all their questions clearly and you will get results. Providing Questioners with deadlines is also useful, as they will work to complete a task within a specific timeframe.”


“We call Obligers the ‘company librarians’,” says Anda. “They’re the ones who always have a copy of a document or know where to find a stapler. However, they’re often so busy sorting out issues for other people that they don’t manage to complete their own work. They like to be helpful – but they’re the ones who are interrupted the most.” Obligers require supervision, she says. “Be aware of their workloads and be prepared to take work away from them if they’ve taken on too much.”


Rebels’ fearlessness and ability to think laterally can be highly effective in some roles, says Anda. However, managing them can be a challenge. The PEP mantra of “Just Do It”, for example, is anathema to the Rebel: “They tend to resist if asked to do something and they’ll only do exactly what they need to do – not what needs to be done.” She advises providing them with all the information they require (clarity again!) and presenting them with the possible consequences of not achieving. A bit of tough love, in other words.

So, managers – over to you. Regardless of how easily (or not) you categorise the quirks of your crew, we think that delving a little deeper into the different dispositions influencing your team dynamic is a useful exercise in itself. Because perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is this: whatever “category” we or our team members fall into, we’d argue that fundamentally, we all just want to be understood. And your team members will certainly appreciate your efforts to do just that.