When Personalities Collide: How to Manage a Team That Doesn’t Get Along

Most hiring managers like strong personalities: they’re memorable, they’re confident and they’re more likely to say what they think and advocate for themselves. When multiple strong personalities on a team collide, however, what seemed great from a hiring perspective can turn into a headache from a leadership perspective.

When the personalities on your team collide, here’s how to manage through the storm:

  1. Always look for the issue first. Even the team members with the strongest personalities or most abrasive approaches are capable of recognizing when a legitimate problem or issue exists. When a conflict arises, start by looking for the issue. If there’s a real problem or concern, focus on hearing all sides of the issue and addressing it.
  2. Set ground rules for discussing areas of conflict. Whether a specific issue has led to a conflict or you’ve simply got a case of staff members getting on one another’s nerves, set some preliminary “rules of engagement” when you bring people together to talk about an issue. For instance, you might require that everyone focus on the problem, use “I” statements (“I have a problem with this because it makes it hard for me to do my job”), and speak calmly.  Don’t be afraid to end the meeting if the rules are violated and try again later.
  3. Address personalities privately. Talking to people about personality conflicts is tough. It often raises feeling of defensiveness and fears of being personally attacked.  Consequently, it’s essential to talk to people about these issues in private if you need to address them.  Never call out staff members in front of one other; instead, call them into your office for a chat.
  4. Let your recruiter know what’s going on. While you certainly shouldn’t turn your recruiter into your “gossip buddy” (or ever reveal information that is protected by law), providing a general overview of the personality conflicts you’re seeing on the team can help your recruiter choose candidates whose personalities will offer a better fit. Letting your recruiter know what personality traits are shared by your best people provides valuable information that will improve the quality of your candidate pool.

At THE RIGHT STAFF, LLC, our recruiters specialize in helping our clients build strong teams.  Wherever you’re located in the Edina area, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about our staffing services in Edina and the Twin Cities.

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