Personality Diversity In The Workplace

Diversity has become synonymous with balance at the workplace – but personality diversity is not heard from as often. This might be specifically true of Indian workplaces where “agreeing with the boss/being complicit with authority” is seen as an ideal characteristic; even an essential one to holding on to a job. However, personality diversity is essential to the development of progressive views and initiatives at organizations both large and nascent. Unchallenged views cannot stand the test of market conditions and vagaries of public opinion as well as the ones that have been debated by a gradient of combatant personalities.

This is not to say rules are meant only to be questioned or overthrown. Personality diversity does not support flouting rules but it upholds bringing in a healthy amount of questioning and debate into the equation. This way, a wider plethora of opinions, both pros and cons and everything in between, makes their appearance and are tempered by answers that ring with logical strength. Personality diversity does not stem only from having a good balance of men and women in the workplace – although gender balance does its part in ensuring diversity. Other channels that imbue diversity of school of thought and belief systems are to have various ethnicities, age groups, and geographical origins/communities represented within the workforce.

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Generational diversity is one aspect of personality diversity.  Professionals of various ages, having been brought up in different decades and consequent economic conditions, have different evidence and experiences to relate. These connotations show up in their working style, the choices they make, and the kind of partners and teams they pick for a project.

Personality diversity – Working consciously against the grain

Associating with people who express contrarian views, ideas, and schools of thought does not come naturally to human beings. It’s not for nothing that they say “birds of a feather flock together” – people usually bond over their similarities, not their distinguishing aspects. Yet overcoming this discomfort to form teams with divergent personalities serves the greater purpose of building a sound, well-informed team with a comprehensive panorama of talents and strengths. It is only when leaders consciously look for personality diversity that they find skills and behaviors that are not already present within the team.

A whole team of people with leadership skills and initiative are of little use if none among them are happy to follow the lead, deliver on a complicated set of instructions, and turn their skills towards the successful conclusion of the project. Personality diversity is brought in for the main reason of creating a positive work culture (78%), to improve performance (62%), and to better represent customers (49%). These numbers show that the shades of personalities observed among their customer groups would do well to be represented among the employees too. These factors help companies create offerings to suit their customers, and to support them throughout the sales journey and after the sale is made. And to do this, the organization needs representatives who take bold steps in innovation as well as those who nurture new leads AND retain customers through consistently valuable offerings.

A consistent trait that all employees, regardless of their own personal values and strengths, think of as important is empathy. With this as the running theme, leaders should build their teams consciously incorporating diverse mental abilities and schools of thought. Such teams will, in time, bond together to gain strength from one another and disseminate the all-important characteristics of resilience and interdependence.

The leaders building teams are automatically in charge of personality diversity. For instance, they cannot dismiss pessimists off-hand. An ambitious team stands to gain from someone who can point out the pitfalls of a project, and armor the team against them. As can be seen, building teams by incorporating personality diversity certainly requires forethought and strategic thinking.

Reference: The Case for Personality Diversity in the Workplace | | Nico Prins

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