Kirsten K's Self-Portrait
Jonah J's Self-Portrait
Personality diversity in the workplace creates powerhouse teams.
To celebrate Kirsten’s promotion to manager of her department, the office threw her a party. There were champagne toasts all around, led by the company executive VP, her new boss. He extolled her remarkable rise at the company and even predicted that someday she would take his place.
Kirsten reveled in the attention and praise from management. It was the best night in her life.
Even her colleague Jonah seemed okay with her new role. Not that he ever seemed to show emotion. He’d wanted this job, she knew. He’d been at the internet-streaming company a lot longer than her three years. A nose-to-the-grindstone guy, he was awash in the minutiae of every project. But he was dry as a bone in a desert when it came to ingenuity.
Finding her Dramatic niche in the workplace
Kirsten’s first job out of college was at a Fortune 500 company, where she’d been hired for their in-house PR department. After only four days on the job, she’d been “talked to” about her clothes. They told her literally to “button up.” Her blouses, it seemed to them, were too revealing. What?? Button them all the way up to her chin?
So she started dressing a little more conservatively, which didn’t make things better. They just didn’t seem to like her. That really got her down. Then one day before work she took a look at herself in the mirror and, damn, she liked her style. She wore a clingy dress to work the day she quit. She wasn’t the corporate type, she concluded.
Her next job was at a music-licensing company. Music people were more like her. She excelled in the promotion department, both in her colorful personal and writing style. Three years later she was recruited to the present company, where they applauded her creativity. She got along great with the other people and was always appreciated for her ability to inject enthusiasm into every effort.
Still, this new promotion was a stunning surprise. They wanted a youthful “idea person” to head the PR division, they’d told her. Well, she had ideas, all right, and she wasn’t yet thirty, not quite. (She did worry about that big birthday coming up.)
Promotion beyond her personality-style’s strengths
So why was she sitting in that lovely corner office with the door closed wanting to cry? She cried easily and ordinarily would have gone into the ladies’ room and had a sniffle in a booth, not caring who heard her. But she was the boss now. On top of everything else that was going wrong, waterworks would not be a good thing.
The reality was she couldn’t handle this job.
The creative part was no problem if she could ever get to it. Instead, she found herself completely bogged down in administrative responsibilities. Reports to fill out, budgets to create. She didn’t get along with numbers or details or computer programs that required entries that would throw everything off if they weren’t perfect.
She could manage story board after story board when creating a video, but not all these god-awful reports. They made her so anxious she’d make stupid mistakes and have to redo them again and again.
She’d asked her dad’s advice over the weekend. He’d always applauded her accomplishments and encouraged her to be her wild and crazy self.
“You’ll figure it out,” he said. “You’re the idea person, right?”
A spontaneous bright idea
Kirsten called a meeting of her department, ostensibly to see how they were faring on the upcoming fall campaign. In fact, she knew she was the only one who couldn’t keep up. The short, unsatisfying meeting ended without resolution of the real problem.
Jonah, as always, was the last to leave. It always took him time to gather all his piles of materials and lists. She asked him to stay a moment.
Jonah’s usual dour expression darkened further when she told him she didn’t think he was happy at his job. He nervously shifted his papers as she invited him to sit down. And weren’t they both surprised when she told him she wanted to give him some new responsibilities. How would he like to become her administrative assistant and participate in budget preparation and report management?
A Stronger Team
Kirsten ran the idea past her boss, saying she could be much more productive with Jonah assisting her in an administrative capacity. He told her he had complete faith in her. They found a private office for Jonah, where he’s been churning out reports and crunching numbers as if this was his own private heaven.
How workplace personality diversity promotes teamwork
Kirsten’s Dramatic style and talents–creative, enthusiastic, colorful, attention-getting–clearly fit with the needs and goals of the music company. Jonah’s Conscientious dedication to detail and perfection, plus his unemotional approach to his work, assured his long-term usefulness. He could not see the forest for the trees. She was loath to start counting trees.
Though she surprised herself, Kirsten’s Self-Confident ambition and shrewdness came into play to help herself solve her problem. She delegated the administrative tasks she loathed to a man who loved them, and who was unlikely to challenge her authority.
Jonah had the dependability and sober accountability characteristic of Serious and Devoted styles. He lacked the people skills required for leadership, though. Predominantly Conscientious people such as Jonah often do better as second in command. Dramatic folks like Kirsten, especially with Self-Confident traits as well, flourish as number one.