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Why do employees act the way they do?


Tim LaHaye, in his book “Why You Act The Way You Do”, shared a story of being in high school with a pair of identical twins. He could hardly tell them apart. They even tested identically on IQ scores, but that was where the similarities ended. Often, especially in the workplace, we wonder why employees act the way they do. We even go as far as saying if only John was more like Harry.

LaHaye said temperament dictates people’s behaviour. He describes temperament as the combination of inborn traits that subconsciously affect man’s behaviour. He said “There is hardly a function in life that isn’t influenced by temperament.” Understanding your temperament and that of those on your team is key to effective relationship management.

In an article entitled “A worker’s Temperament Impacts the Workplace.” SNELLING examines some of the strengths and weaknesses of the four basic temperaments – Choleric, Sanguine, Phlegmatic and Melancholic.

1. Choleric – Thrive on activity and are “doers”. They are energetic, forceful, independent and opinionated. Weaknesses include impatience, a tendency towards anger and an inability to delegate.

2. Sanguine – Have good people-skills and a confident and spontaneous style. Cheerful, talkative, and enthusiastic. They are emotional and communicative by nature. Weaknesses include tendencies towards arrogance, self-indulgence, and a lack of discipline.

3. Phlegmatic – Are considered reliable and capable; they easily see the bigger picture, and therefore can be good mediators. They are relaxed and easy going and not easily disturbed. Although they tend to work well under pressure, deadlines are needed. They sometimes find it hard to speak up in the workplace and have a tendency to avoid conflict.

4. Melancholic – Thoughtful and sensitive towards the needs of others. They are often deep, philosophic, self-sacrificing and conscientious, but they can be self-critical. They are organized and goal-oriented and maintain high standards. They can, however, be resistant to change unless there is a good precedent.

The first step in relationship building is self-knowledge. Diversity in the workplace is important. A well-managed, diverse team leads to high performing, collaborative teams which lead to increased profitability and opportunities for employees.

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