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Entrepreneurs Panel

Jennie Johnson
Julie Meyer
Charlie Mullins
Brian Hay
Steve Purdham
Tony Caldeira
Laura Tenison
Debbie Pierce
Michael Oliver
Jeremy Roberts
David Pollock
Richard O'Sullivan

I love it when a team comes together...

Melanie Astbury, HR manager at officekitten.co.uk, offers six tips for nurturing that essential esprit de corps.

A huge part of leading a business is the ability to bring together numerous different personality types and get them to work effectively together.

Every office contains a broad mix of differing personalities. As a manager, controlling, motivating and getting along with this variety of personalities can be a challenge.

It seems simple to state that different people need to be handled in different ways. But first you have to understand each individual's personality and motivating factors. Psychometric testing is a very effective way of doing that. But it is expensive. So here are some more cost-effective ideas to help.

1. Be all ears

This is how to ensure you find common ground with every type of office personality. No matter the person, if they are getting something off their chest, then they want to be heard. So listen.

It doesn't mean you agree with everything they say, but if you can pick up on something that will help you get along together, you'll have an ally going forward. That only comes from listening to what is being said to you.

2. Be assertive

This doesn't mean shouting. But it does mean being clear to every member of staff about what your policies, viewpoint and company line is.

Leave no one in any doubt about your opinion and in this way you'll take everyone with you. The more meek employees will not want to challenge you, while those who generally resist direction and believe they know best won't have any weak spots to prey on.

3. Be constructive

Never join in with office moans and complaints. It's your job to always see the bright side, the solution and the positives.

Going back to point one, you should always be amenable to listening to staff grumbles as this gives you great insight into people's day-to-day mindsets.

However, negativity spreads like wildfire in an office. It is also exhausting for everyone to deal with. This is where constructive solutions come to the fore. Listen for specific complaints being made and be quick to offer suggestions that will solve the problem.

This elevates you to the role of authoritative problem solver in the eyes of the staff, while the grumbler is shown up to be nothing more than a morale sapper.

4. Be an example

In order for your workers to look to you, trust you and work most effectively, you must stand apart from them at times.

This is especially true when it comes to office practices like gossip. You cannot ever control what people talk about. However, you can choose never to get involved.

Don't join in when you hear gossip, never initiate gossip and if you do hear of activities that have the potential to hurt the office environment and certain individuals, nip it in the bud smartly.

Set the right example in everything you do and others will be more likely to follow your professional behaviour.

5. Be respectful

Remember that everyone in your team is working towards the same goal, to make the business a success. This reflects well on them and also on you. So look for the positives, praise individual and team successes, overlook small flaws where you can and strive for a united team.

Lead from the front by respecting everyone's individual strengths and encourage input from all levels of the business to drive you forward. This is how you stand the greatest chance of success.

6. Get staff to take the test!

Scientific insight will help you tailor your approach to each individual to achieve maximum success. Psychometric testing is a great investment. However it's expensive and it is possible to identify traits using freely available tools.

For example, we've put together www.officekitten.co.uk/officeanimal, a 15-question quiz to help participants to understand their office personality based on reaction to a series of issues. It's designed to be fun but it is ultimately grounded in science, thanks to the creator Dr Sandi Mann, a specialist in behavioural psychology. Asking colleagues to take the test could reveal a lot about how best to motivate and communicate.

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