In my very unscientific observation, I estimate that about half of the people we work with are amiable, adaptable, and for the most part easy to get along with. The other half… are characters. Their strong personality is most likely to come out when things get tough, stress levels increase, and ironically—at the time you need their cooperation the most.
The secret to effective collaboration with strong personalities is to adapt to their style. Forget the Golden Rule. Don't treat them how you would want to be treated. Treat them how they want to be treated. Do you recognize any of the following qualities within your team?
The people person views relationships and customer service as the key priority, with almost no exceptions. Work that interferes with values such as sensitivity, communication, cooperation, and unity will seem unimportant so take care to create that link to win their support. They can relate to stories, past experiences, and knowing who else supports the work and is involved. During the day-to-day, go out of your way to say hello. They need chit-chat, they need an outlet for their feelings and emotions at work, and they want you to take an interest in their personal life and current preoccupations.
As much as the people person is oriented towards people, the intense driver is oriented towards the current task at hand. Their trusty to-do list (with deadlines, milestones, and action plans) dictates their week and anything that gets in the way of productivity or efficiency will generally be frowned-upon. When working together on projects, make sure to cover what the next steps, the key takeaways, and action items are—they will ask for them. They value ideas that are practical, quickly implementable, and create a tangible result. They appreciate directness—so get to the point quickly.
Of the four, the idealistic innovator is a rare breed in business and they usually know they have a special talent. That alone can make them difficult to work with, but above all else, they value improving the current state. They have many wild ideas (some practical, others not so much); they do appreciate being guided in the right direction as long as they feel their ideas are being heard and considered.
Last but not least, the by-the-book traditional is methodical, systematic, takes things literally, and dislikes adapting to change. They value planning, preparation, and being able to control their environment. When you do need them to make a change in their process, give them as much information as possible, take baby steps, and allow them plenty of time to get on board. Walk them through new processes in order and in an organized manner—they often need a full understanding of what they are getting themselves into before jumping on board.