Psychology, Personalities, & Management

Psychology, Personalities, & Management

As a manager, it is important to pay attention to the types of personalities of your employees. Understanding the psychology behind different personalities provides knowledge that can help manage employees properly. When you are familiar with how your employees behave, what motivates them, and their tendencies/strengths/shortcomings, you can predict certain outcomes. Here are a few examples:

Type Traits What to watch out for
Perfectionist/Obsessive Compulsive



Self Control




Can’t handle criticism








Evoke annoyance/anxiety

Source of conflict



Indirectly resistant to authority

Don’t directly deal with conflict

Deliberate procrastination


Socially Avoidant



Socially anxious

Disinterested in social interaction


Connor (2013, Sep 1) offers the following:

Perfectionists can be your greatest strength. They want to perform at an elevated level and surpass your expectations. In reality, their expectations for themselves probably exceed the expectations from management.  These types of individuals expect to be equally acknowledged and rewarded for their performance, but do not demand special treatment. Keep in mind that these people will tend to hear feedback as criticism and will be sensitive to any suggestion that they have let you down (even if that’s not what you intended). Also, try to be very clear with expectations, and be sure to let them know where it is acceptable to cut corners. Perfections often have trouble meeting deadlines, not out of laziness, but because nothing ever seems good enough.


Narcissists are frequently a source of conflict in an organization. If you encounter lots of problems due to a narcissistic person, you really need to ask yourself if the person is truly needed. It is unlikely that you will ever change their behavior. Narcissists deal with conflict in one of two ways: they get hostile and aggressive, or they flatter and try to manipulate. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated. Managing these people requires flattery and manipulation on the management side. Make this individual feel needed, or like they are being entrusted with something special.


Passive-Aggressive individuals will not directly let you know if something is wrong. If this individual believes that their workload is too high, they will simply procrastinate or miss deadlines. If they dislike going to meetings, they will show up late. It is possible that they aren’t even consciously aware of these tendencies, because passive-aggression stems from a fear of being controlled. Try not to micromanage these people; allow them to have as much independence as possible, as long as their work is being completed.


Socially Avoidant people may  not like social interaction for a number of reasons. They may be introverted, socially anxious and afraid of judgement, or they may truly dislike social activities and prefer to be alone. Social interaction actually drains energy from these types of people. Don’t force these people to interact; if their presence isn’t necessary, don’t force them to be at meetings, social events, parties, etc. Let them have their own space, and let them know if you plan to stop by to check on their work or give information.


Ultimately, it is important as a manager to try to work with your employees. If you encounter continuous problems due to an employee’s traits or behaviors, it is important to recognize that you are unlikely to change them. You must decide if you can work with an individual, or not. It may be helpful to try to screen for these things in advance, by using pre-employment screening questionnaires, or developing interview questions that may help identify certain personality types or traits.




Connor, C. (2013, Sep 1). How psychology can make you a better boss. Forbes. Retrieved from:

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