Deliberate/Planner vs. Spontaneous Personality Traits

How to work with a deliberate vs a spontaneous person at work

How do your employees structure their work time? Do they show up promptly at 8:00 am or do they always seem to come in late? Do they create to-do lists or wait and see what the day brings?

In general, you can put employees in one of two categories: deliberate/planners vs. people with spontaneous personalities. Let’s take a look at the differences between these two traits, including how they make decisions and structure their time, and explore why you need both planners and spontaneous personalities in the workplace.

What is a planner personality?

A person who is a planner knows exactly why they do everything they do or say. They are deliberate in their approach to their work and will often spend a great deal of time planning out a detailed strategy. If giving a presentation, it will either be well-rehearsed or will be read from notes – they will not be comfortable talking about whatever comes to mind or speaking “off the cuff.”

What are the characteristics of a planner?

In general, planner personalities show the following characteristics:

  • They have daily to-do lists, as well as monthly and long-term goals and plans
  • They like to schedule their work time evenly to ensure that they meet deadlines, which means they usually don’t procrastinate
  • They are decisive and like to create a plan and stick with it, rather than seeing how things go and making adjustments along the way

How to work with a planner

In the workplace, planners like to be on time so that they can start their day, get to work and check things off their to-do lists. They don’t like delays, uncertainty or having deadlines that are constantly changing.

Planners like to make a decision and go with it – they don’t want to overthink things, but instead, prefer to start working on what needs to get done. This can be a problem at times, because they may not consider all the angles of a situation before diving in.

How to train a planner
  • Planners love seeing progress, so providing them with a check-off list of things they need to learn or do during training works very well
  • Planner personalities in the workplace love to have structure and a clear idea of what’s going to happen when, so create an outline for your training that includes session times, goals, etc.
How to motivate a planner
  • Since planners like to structure their own work time, give them the freedom to organize their projects as they see fit
  • Allow them to set goals, objectives, and deadlines
  • Look for ways to let them have focused, uninterrupted time to complete tasks
How to give feedback to a planner
  • Planners are usually great at time management, but may struggle to explore new ideas or possibilities and may need help exploring different ways of doing something (which might actually help get things done faster)
  • Planner types can get upset if they have to complete tasks under pressure or feel they’re behind schedule, so be reassuring and supportive of their desire to get things done while helping them understand that sometimes last-minute tasks are unavoidable.

What is the opposite of a planner personality?

The opposite of a planner is someone with a spontaneous personality. While planners like deadlines, schedules and structured work time, someone with a spontaneous personality prefers flexibility, change and remaining open to options.

What is a spontaneous personality?

In general, someone with a spontaneous personality at work is rather unpredictable, preferring to act or say whatever seems right at the moment. An excellent example is a stand-up comedian who never knows what may happen and seems to have a knack for rolling with the punches and handling whatever comes their way. They are impulsive and think quickly on their feet. If they’re wrong about something, they won't dwell on it, preferring instead to apologize and move on.

In the workplace, people with spontaneous personalities like to look at a project from all sides, consider innovative possibilities and discuss options. They’re not afraid to do things differently than they’ve been done before. Even if a project is well underway, they can be perfectly happy changing direction and looking for a better outcome.

What are the characteristics of someone with a spontaneous personality?

  • They like to keep their options open and don’t mind if plans change
  • They wait to make decisions until they’ve gathered all the information
  • They like having flexibility in their schedules, projects and deadlines
  • They are comfortable with change and often work very well under pressure

How to work with a spontaneous person

Learning how to work with a spontaneous person can benefit your business in many ways because they tend to be creative, innovative and thoughtful. In general, people with spontaneous personalities at work can take longer to make a decision (and sometimes even have trouble making one at all), but when they do, you can be sure that they’ve thought things through carefully.

How to train someone with a spontaneous personality
  • People with spontaneous personalities don’t necessarily need a set outline for training – they’d prefer to see how things go, “roll with it” and explore new possibilities
  • Allow plenty of time for questions, discussion, and feedback
How to motivate a person with a spontaneous personality
  • Give them a chance to explore new, innovative ways to get something done
  • Provide them with time and plenty of information to make a decision, to do research or come to a conclusion
  • Don’t be a stickler about “start times” – let them have more flexibility when it comes to arriving at the office or arranging their schedule
How to give feedback to someone with a spontaneous personality
  • Someone with a spontaneous personality may struggle to make decisions, preferring instead to focus on the process rather than the outcome. Creativity, thoroughness, and innovation should be rewarded, but you may have to work with the person to meet deadlines and get things done on time
  • Time management and procrastination can be issues for spontaneous types, so keep this in mind when giving feedback and assigning tasks

Which is a better worker: deliberate planners vs. spontaneous personalities?

When it comes to planners vs. spontaneous personalities in the workplace, one type isn’t “better” than another – it all depends on the job and what you need to accomplish. In fact, every business will benefit from having both types within their teams.

Hire Success can provide insights into each job candidate or current employee you have and help you determine the traits you need.

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