The 4 different types of colleagues & how to deal with them

A team full of different personalities with all different preferences. Not every colleague gets along well with another colleague, there is always one who feels personally attacked or the colleague who always knows better and likes to make himself heard. How do you deal with all these different types and which approach works?

In the book Happy Leader (affiliate) Romilde van Commenée discusses the success formula for good leadership. In one of the chapters she discusses the different types in a team. This is of great benefit to you as a leader, but also as a direct colleague.

Everyone has a preference for a different style of approach, which can be divided into: decisive, influential, stable and conscientious. Let’s go through the styles.

1. Decisive

Colleagues with a preference for the decisive style are generally people who have an extremely fast work pace. It is often impossible for others to keep up with, and this can cause irritation on both sides. A decisive person does not use too many words, focuses mainly on the main points and if it takes him or her too long, the colleague will do it himself.

Pretty much everything an energetic person does must have a purpose. If the goal is not clear, you will not get this colleague along. Be clear, to the point, don’t beat around the bush and don’t make it too long.

Tips for dealing with decisive colleagues

  • If you have made an appointment with a decisive colleague, make sure that the purpose of the appointment is immediately clear.
  • Skip lengthy introductions, as you’ll lose focus and likely have an annoyed co-worker in front of you.
  • Assume that an agreement is really an agreement with these colleagues. They are so focused on the goal that they always achieve it, so you can rely on them to keep their promises.

2. Influential

These colleagues always bring the fun with them. They will no doubt come up with more than ten great ideas a week, but if they are knocked down over and over, they don’t work out and they become demotivated. Their enthusiasm is contagious, but otherwise also true: if they are not happy, they prefer to cut everything in the field of work. It is therefore important to give these colleagues the attention and every now and then a stage, that will help them grow. With their charm they can convince almost everyone, which is a nice quality, as long as you keep setting your limits.

Tips for dealing with influential colleagues

  • What others think of them is almost more important than the performance itself. Give them (a sincere) compliment regularly, that keeps them motivated (and happy).
  • Help this colleague to make things concrete: ‘Great that you have so many ideas, which one do you think works best? Work that out and then let’s talk about it together.”

3. Stable

These colleagues function well on consistency and clarity. They want to know where they stand. They like to work according to a plan and attach great importance to structure. When something changes in the organization, this colleague becomes the most nervous. If everything is fine the way it is, why change?

Stable colleagues are extremely caring and are eager to do and solve everything for everyone, so that their own work can sometimes suffer. When things don’t go well with another colleague, stable people tend to drop all the work from their hands and jump to the rescue right away. People are really more important to them than the task that has to be completed. Because of this helpful attitude, they like to be involved in the execution of things. They don’t necessarily have to come up with it, just leave that to the decisive and influential colleagues. Stable colleagues get to work and carry out the assignment exactly as requested.

Tips for dealing with stable colleagues

  • Will anything change? In that case, take these colleagues completely along in the process, which reassures them.
  • If you expect something different from these colleagues than the work they normally do, you have to ask specifically.
  • These colleagues are always there for others, help them every now and then and make sure they don’t forget their own work.

4. Conscientious

These are the critical colleagues. They always have a question and often come up with things you might not have thought of yourself. You can even think of them as the conscience of the team or organization. They like to research everything down to the last detail and do not skip any detail. This sometimes slows down the process.

These colleagues like to look ahead and plan in advance which path they will take. When there is a hitch, they have already decided what to do next.

Tips for dealing with conscientious colleagues

  • If you want to convince this colleague, you have to focus on the facts.
  • Give them tasks where their accuracy can be used in a positive way. Think, for example, of creating procedures, checking checklists, keeping the intranet or shared drive tidy, etc.

Happy leader, happy colleague

Despite Happy Leader (affiliate) is aimed at managers, it got me thinking anyway. If you want to get something done in the organization where you work, it is good to think about the type of colleagues you are dealing with. I myself notice that someone is sometimes directly in my allergy, without demonstrable reason. That can of course be very good, because we both have a completely different style of working. That clashes. If you are aware of this, you will switch more easily and you will be able to work well with most colleagues.

I am of course very curious what type of colleague you are? With which approach do colleagues get something done from you and vice versa?

Source: Frankwatching by

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