What type of office manager are you?

Marine Klein
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Awareness of your personality could help your career!

Do you carefully weigh up the pros and cons of a decision, or do you prefer to get on with things and sort them out as you go along? Do you base decisions on observed facts, logic, or gut feel?

Which is more important to you, being in the right, or pleasing other people? How do you deal with a conflict situation at work when you know you are in the right – do you dig your heels in, discuss it with an open mind, or avoid the situation in the hope it will go away?

In general, there is no absolute “right” or “wrong” answer to these questions. A lot depends on the sort of person you are, and the personality types you are dealing with.

Every workplace is a melting pot of different characters, which provides scope for disagreement and even conflict. Yet we all have to get on with one another in pursuit of the company’s success.

However, it is as well to be aware of your natural temperament. The main two categories are extrovert and introvert. Which are you, and how can you leverage this to your advantage as an office manager?


Extroverts – the plus points

  • They never seem to meet a stranger. Everyone is a potential customer, business partner, or friend.
  • They are willing volunteers. They like to say “yes” to a new assignment.
  • They are prepared to take risks – entrepreneurs tend to be extroverts.
  • They involve themselves socially with everyone in the office. They initiate personal discussions and often become the company’s de facto social secretary.


And the bad news …

  • Extroverts can emotionally overpower customers and employees who prefer to keep things “strictly business”. This can lead to difficulties when dealing with a more reserved individual.
  • They can get burned out quickly as a result of their over-commitment. They take on a task without considering the workload. They have difficulty saying “no”.
  • They can become overly friendly with staff, which diminishes respect. Think David Brent! The ideal balance is to be respected for your professionalism at work, and as a friend outside the office.



Introverts – the plus points

  • Introverts can have impressive powers of concentration and problem solving. When an introverted office manager presents a plan, the rest of the team can usually rest assured that it will be detailed and well thought out.
  • They can be very diplomatic, given that they tend to observe behaviour from a distance. If there is a conflict situation, an introvert can often explain differing points of view without becoming emotionally involved.
  • They can become effective leaders because they are realists. They know their own strengths, and are happy to bring others on board to help them overcome their limitations.
  • They give credit to others.


And the bad news …

  • Introverts generally prefer to work in solitude. They may exhibit impatience or even anger if interrupted.
  • They may be risk-averse.
  • They may not show up at social gatherings that are not business-related, and even then they may look as though they wish they were at home reading a book. This often makes them appear aloof or even snobbish.
  • They tend not to volunteer for an assignment, waiting until others have refused it. This may make them appear to be “long suffering”.
  • Because they are often shy, they are not good at promoting themselves. This can lead to resentment building up over time if they do not receive the recognition they deserve.

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So which are you?

Simple test: generally speaking (and this is a huge generalisation) if you are an extrovert, you prefer to recharge your batteries by socialising with other people and if you are an introvert, you do so alone or only with close friends and family.

In fact, as an office manager, you need a good balance of introvert an extrovert. You need to be able to stay on top of the details of running the business. That may require you to shut the door and concentrate now and again.

But you are also dealing with people most of the time – the boss, customers, engineers, suppliers … and that requires you to be sociable. Either way, you will often need to swim against the current that your personality type would normally dictate.

You also need to work together with people who have very different personality types. This can be rather uncomfortable at times, but as an office manager you may have to take the lead in helping others to overcome the negative side of their personalities.

For example, it may be that one of your most efficient engineers (an introvert) tends to keep quiet during team meetings. Encourage him to speak up and share the secrets of his success.

Alternatively, it may be that another engineer (an extrovert) seeks the attention of others by bouncing lots of (sometimes wacky) ideas off the team – in which case acknowledge his enthusiasm, without letting him hijack the meeting.

Likewise, some will base decisions on logic and reason, and the objective analysis of cause and effect, while others focus more on more subjective concerns about what people will be prepared to go along with.

You need both perspectives! The ability to recognise that it takes all sorts to make a great company and to learn from one another is a hallmark of professional maturity.

If you are interested in getting a quick insight into your personality type, you might like to do this test from ISTJ. For a more detailed analysis we recommend the well-known Myers-Briggs test (there is a small fee for this one).

We’d love to hear how you get on!

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