What You Need to Know About Workplace Personalities – Lessons From the Gilmore Girls

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Journeying to Stars Hollow has taught us many lessons on love, friendships, and life over the years. The Gilmore Girls’ multitude of personalities has given everyone someone to relate to — but managers are given the difficult task of needing to relate with every personality type in the office without the drama.

It’s crucial for leaders to connect with employees, but with so many different personalities in the workplace, it’s challenging. In fact, Virgin Pulse’s 2015 Labor of Love: What Employees Love About Work and Ways To Keep The Spark Alive study surveyed 1,000 employees, and found 60 percent of respondents say their relationship with their employer positively impacts focus or productivity at work, and 44 percent say it positively impacts stress levels.

Gilmore Girls has provided perfect examples of varying workplace personality types — here’s a look at how to create a relationship with each one:

The control freak (Taylor)

Taylor owns many different businesses throughout Stars Hollow and is the head on multiple committees. He likes to be involved in every aspect of business by micromanaging and ensuring each rule is being followed exactly.

Sometimes these types of people can seem overbearing, but we can’t forget their main goal — making sure everything goes well. Listening is key to building a relationship with those who like to be in control. Start by understanding what they want to do and why. If you disagree, you will know exactly how to make them understand why there’s a more efficient way to go about things.

The over-reactor (Suki)

Suki can be found running around the kitchen freaking out because the turnips Jackson delivered aren’t symmetrical. To her, this wasn’t just an inconvenience, it would ruin the entire meal.

Over-reactors can be found preparing to make sure every tiny detail goes exactly as planned — if it doesn’t, watch out. These employees are truly invested in their work, but can get overwhelmed with the details. This personality type needs to hear that they’re not only doing a good job, but exceeding your expectations.

Formal meetings may be too stressful for an over-reactor because they like to keep busy making things happen. Consider scheduling a brief walking meeting to discuss progress and gain feedback on what you can do to help make their workday run smoothly. Also, be present just by popping in to reassure them they’re on the right track — even if something does go wrong.

Knowing management has their back will help ease the pressures they put on themselves.

The negative Nancy (Luke)

It may be difficult to understand why Luke’s diner is constantly full of people. He tends to be rude, irritable, and rather unpredictable — but the coffee is just that good.

Almost any leader can point out a person with this attitude on their team. This personality type can be harmless, but their negative outlook also has the potential to bring down the entire team’s morale.

Transparency is the best way to deal with these types of people. Showing them how their daily tasks positively affect the company, and what management does once these duties are completed, can potentially curve their negative tendencies.

Give their frustrations a safe outlet by letting them know they can come to you with any issue, so you can work together to solve it. Schedule weekly meetings to promote leaving the negativity in your office, rather than with other co-workers, or worse — clients.

The perfectionist (Rory)

Rory took her smarts all the way to Yale where she continued to give 110 percent — with only a few meltdowns along the way. Luckily, she had an unconventional mom to throw her pizza and candy parties when she needed a break from her own mind.

Perfectionists probably make up most of your A-Team. They have great communication skills and are always on top of their tasks. So, why is it important to focus on building relationships with these types of people? Striving for perfection every day is exhausting. These overachievers tend to overwork themselves, which can lead to both mental and physical breakdowns.

Help limit perfectionists’ anxiety by creating weekly checklists. Make sure it’s understood that once these tasks are checked off, their work week is finished. Also, be sure they have the tools to succeed so they are not stressing over perfecting little details.

You can always recognize their hard work with benefits that will help them take necessary breaks, as well. Start with a half day once a month or add an extra day of vacation, and encourage them to take those important breathers.

The free spirit (Lorelai)

The proud owner of The Dragonfly Inn is as laid back as a business owner can get. Lorelai Gilmore knows how to run a business well, but also doesn’t allow the small stuff to bother her.

Some may view a free-spirited employee, like Lorelai, as someone who doesn’t care about the quality of their work. On the contrary, they are very invested, but refuse to let little bumps in the road affect everything — or everyone — else around them.

These go-with-the-flow attitudes will work well in a one-on-one setting where you can express your expectations and freely discuss any issues. Rehash a few of the mishaps from the previous month, take a look through their eyes at the problem, and work out a prevention plan together. These meetings provide leaders with the opportunity to learn what makes this personality type tick, and what they’re trying to accomplish in the way they handle their workflow.    

Your relationship with these different types of people flowing through your office may be on again, off again. So it’s important to always keep the communication — and coffee — flowing.

What tips do you have for leaders who are struggling to connect with their employees? Let us know!

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution that gives job seekers complete control over their job search. It's available for individual users, university and military career services centers, libraries, and corporations seeking to offer outplacement assistance to former employees. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.