Managing Workplace Personalities: Trade Struggle for Synergy

Juggle all the personality types in your workplace environment. 

Does your business have a lot of personalities, and maybe not in the best way? This is probably territory that is familiar to all of us. If pressed, anyone can recount a time when they’ve worked with someone they didn’t see eye-to-eye with at work. At best, it can make the workplace slightly tense. At worst, it can lead to lost time, distraction, and turnover.

In fact, the lost productivity from workplace personality battles is such a common phenomenon that in 2017, Deloitte, an industry-leading audit, consulting, and advisory service network, created a study and system called Business Chemistry and published it in the Harvard Business Review. The survey of 19,000 people narrowed workplace personalities into four main types and offered new insight on how to bring them together effectively. The results of the study have become a solid basis for strategizing workplace personality management.


Deloitte Business Chemistry found four common personality types in 19,000 surveys from those in the workforce.

  • Pioneers: These risk-takers tend to be abstract thinkers and more than likely entrepreneurial in spirit. They thrive on energy and imagination, risk-taking, and instinct. Small details and organizational tasks get lost on these bold innovators, which can lead to frustration for more methodical types, like guardians.
  • Guardians: When left to their own devices, guardians will do things the way they’ve always been done. Order, organization, and data are what these worker bees live on, and risk is a dirty word. They tend to look at the past to figure out what to do, instead of the future.
  • Drivers: When in the workforce, drivers seem unstoppable. They love challenges, results, accolades, and awards. Competition is natural and winning is the ultimate goal. They love logic, data, and do not hesitate to tackle problems head-on. Their eye-on-the-prize mentality can often trample over softer personalities, such as integrators.
  • Integrators: This workplace personality is often the glue of a team. They value connection and emotional intelligence. Incredibly loyal, relationships with team members are significant to integrators. They’d rather reach consensus than go against the crowd and are often the most diplomatic in the office.


These all sound like someone you know, right? While each personality type brings something positive to the team, it can be disastrous when they butt heads. Pioneers and guardians often experience friction, as do drivers and integrators. So how do you bring everyone together to promote progress? The key to a successful partnership of all types lies with management that pays attention.

First things first, pair opposites. Those drivers and integrators may argue a lot at first. However, encouraging both parties to be open and honest about their preferences and actively compromise creates an incredible balance that will push your team forward. It takes work to get there, but the results are well worth it.

Secondly, check in with your team members often. Make sure to tailor your approach to each personality type for best results. This may seem like a lot of work, but it’s pretty simple. Don’t make a lot of meaningless small talk with your drivers. Don’t catch your guardians off guard with spur-of-the-moment presentations or questions that put them on the spot. Focus your time on finding the correct way to communicate with your team, and you’ll be able to receive honest feedback, receptiveness, and commitment to the cause!

Thirdly, embrace the minority. This may seem counterintuitive if you have seven drivers and two integrators, but you should always aim to shake up the status quo and avoid groupthink. A workplace tailored to one personality type may miss the valuable insight that comes from getting out of your comfort zone. Incorporating a workplace strategy that is more suitable for integrators will lead your existing team to adopt new perspectives, which can be incredibly valuable.

Above all else, keep an open mind. Respecting the valuable contribution that each person and personality brings to the whole is just the first step. Building this openness to perspectives will change your workplace for the better. Ride out the friction and don’t be afraid to implement new changes.

Kristen Klingensmith

Kristen Klingensmith is the content manager for Nonstop Signs & Graphics, a printing and design company based out of San Diego, California. She holds a degree in entrepreneurship & venture management from the University of Oklahoma, and enjoys creating practical content for readers in the realm of business, marketing, and finance.

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