Managing Many Personalities

Look around your practice. Think about your team and what makes each person unique to your business and clients. Maybe your technician has a way of keeping everyone on task. Your receptionist might have a passion for horses and visits with clients long after their appointments end. Your associate veterinarian might always rally the team. Do you know how to best communicate with each one of them based on their unique personalities?

Having so many different personalities is what makes your practice special–and also what makes managing the practice so challenging. Before your employees can show their great qualities, your style of leadership must align with their unique personalities so that you can connect and inspire them. It’s more than just learning what makes someone want to come to work every day. You need to understand how to effectively communicate with each person. Thus, you must be willing to identify what drives each team member and what stresses him or her out.

Most often, I use the DiSC personality assessment with teams I coach. It focuses on our natural inclinations and priorities by helping us see things that regularly motivate and stress us. It prompts us to examine how we naturally tend to react to people based on their behavioral styles and how we can be more effective with each style. DiSC is a tool that helps us to understand how we, and our team members, tend to operate at work and respond to various workplace environmental challenges.

There are four different behaviors. To be most effective, you’ll need to learn how to identify them and how to adapt your communication approach with people who exhibit them:

  • “D” is for Dominance: These people focus on accomplishing results, the bottom line and confidence. They see the big picture, accept challenges, get straight to the point and can be blunt.
  • “I” is for Influence: These people focus on influencing or persuading others, openness and relationships. They show enthusiasm, are optimistic, like to collaborate and dislike being ignored.
  • “S” is for Steadiness: These people focus on cooperation, sincerity and dependability. They typically have a calm manner and approach, are very supportive and don’t like to be rushed.
  • “C” is for Conscientiousness: These people focus on quality and accuracy, expertise and competency. “C” people enjoy independence and objective reasoning. They want details and fear being wrong.

Ineffective communication is one of the biggest problems in business today. But by discovering and capitalizing on people’s unique behavioral strengths, you’ll see a more engaged staff, friendlier environment, increased productivity and improved employee retention, all of which can contribute to increased profits. With this, combined with other opportunities for business improvements, you’ll spot results in more than just the practice. You’ll notice it in your team and in yourself.

Next Step: How to Become More Effective

We might be most comfortable working with a certain type of personality, but as a leader, you can learn how to adapt your style to more effectively communicate with each personality type. The way you talk to staff members matters. For example, are you making employees feel they must complete a task simply out of obligation? Or are you empowering them with the freedom to accomplish something with a more efficient method? The approach could mean the difference between an engaged, happy and high-performing employee or an employee that is just going through the motions. Next month, you’ll learn how you can flex and become more effective to each style.

Debra Van Cleve is a leadership coach and consultant for PeopleFirst from Zoetis. She works with veterinarians, equine business owners, pork and cattle producers, and ranch and farm retailers to meet their human resources, training, development and leadership needs. PeopleFirst is the industry’s first comprehensive human capital and business management solutions program. These services were created in direct response to challenges customers expressed with managing today’s complex agricultural businesses. For more information about building your team or learning what personalities make up your team, contact Debra at deb.vancleve@growpeoplefirst.comor your local Zoetis representative or visit

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