Engage and retain the extraordinary personalities working with you

by 10 May 2012

An employee’s personality is the key to their engagement and retention. What you have to do is you let them use it.

In our lives we have choice and control. The more of this we have, the happier we are and the more we accomplish.

At work, much of this choice and control is taken away from us. We are hindered in achieving the tasks we are charged with because we are often working the way someone else has prescribed. We are hired to do what no one else does, making us all extraordinary.

People don’t often change; we can’t or don’t want to. The company targets and budgets are set; and services and products provided are usually fixed for the year. However, how we achieve what we are tasked to do is within our control, and this can make an incredible difference.

The simple fact is we are only good at being ourselves, so use that to get the best out of people.

Take a moment to ask yourself these two key questions.

  • Are you encouraging your staff to use their own personalities at work?
  • Are they allowed to work in a way that suits them best?

Allow your employees to be themselves as much as possible and engage them in achieving specific goals and tasks, which you establish together.

Culture and values. Where it is and where you want it to be

You have a culture already. The question is whether that is the one you want. It’s not just the fun stuff, it’s the job, and the achievement of going home satisfied. A good culture is being able to tell your friends you like what you do at work.

Establish what standard of work, behaviour and values you want and then outline what is considered unacceptable. We are all from different backgrounds, so don’t assume we have the same values: be open, define them and champion them.

There is nothing worse than people watching others cross a line at work or not knowing themselves if they have crossed one, with the result being someone feeling threatened and powerless.

Clarity. Does everyone know what they are trying to achieve?

This is not the same as what they are doing. Often we are told what to do, without a full realisation of what the overall goal is. Fear from managers and a lack of trust is usually to blame. If we are treated with kid gloves, we are going to feel like kids, right?

Behavioural profiling

There will always be tensions at work; we all work in different ways and it takes a long time for any relationship to find its groove. Sometimes it never does. Find out what everyone’s personalities are, get them out in the open and use the information to do things better as a group of people.

It is essential to find out styles, as it empowers people to be themselves, starts worthwhile conversations and helps us understand the way others think and act, which is a powerful thing.

Communicating. Talking and listening as it used to be called

Speak plainly.

Communicating well and reaching complete understanding, should be vital in every conversation, email or meeting. Our resumes say we are great communicators, but how much time do we spend practicing or checking ourselves to see if what we say makes sense?

There is an endless array of training in this area. Do it by discovery as a team, plan exercises based around what you do. Have training regularly, not when something is deemed to be broken, so your team is always learning and interacting together.

Have a simple activity at the end of your weekly team meetings and build from there.


We suffer from jargon, acronyms and a squeezing of large concepts into small phrases that only a few people will fully understand. To speak to clients or to the new hires in your company in this way is unacceptable, but so easily done.

If you speak to someone and say terms like ROI, APJ, audience reach or core focus, one of two things will happen.

1) They will fully understand.

2) They will have no idea. As adults, we don’t like to look stupid, so we won’t ask what it meant, instead we will pay no attention to what you are saying, wracking our brains to figure out what you meant, whilst smiling and nodding. Then you will be frustrated later when they haven’t grasped what you said.

Try this. Pick up the phone and call someone in your business who has been there one month. Ask them if a glossary of terms and acronyms would help understand what they are doing!

New employees – before you find them, prepare!

Before recruiting – talk to each other. For my last job I was interviewed by six people. Let’s say you have the same number. To successfully recruit the right person, you all need to be looking for the same attributes, attitude and skill set.

Set up a meeting for everyone involved in the process. The hiring manager can outline who they are looking for, why and what they will be doing. Discuss it so that everyone is looking for the same person, and they understand the role. This makes expectations easier to express when the new person starts.

The reality is that many of us have had a new recruit leave because it “wasn’t what I thought it would be”.


Think of everyone as being extraordinary; it helps to realise everyone needs to be treated individually.

Allow your employees to be themselves as much as possible and engage them in achieving specific goals and tasks, which you establish together. Watch them flourish!

About the author

Andrew Warren-Nicholls is a trainer and facilitator at Epilogue Training Solutions. For more information phone +61 404 838 507 or visit www.epilogues.com.au                 


  • by Willy B 10/05/2012 3:36:18 PM

    Very insightful article Andrew. Lets hope that organisations both large and small take note of unique talents and individuality and capitalise on them. You have encouraged me to speak up and ask - what does APJ stand for?

  • by Andrew WN 10/05/2012 4:54:18 PM

    Hi Willy B, Good question, one I had to ask myself, APJ stands for Asia, Pacific and Japan!

  • by Bill Garrison 10/05/2012 10:05:06 PM

    Great article. The other aspect is to hire the right personality for the position. Business owners tend to be the A-type personality and HR people tend to be the C-types. They like to hire people they feel "comfortable" with, most like themselves and that is not always good. Each position needs a different personality to work out well for the job and the management style. Hiring the wrong personality can cause many problems and turnover.