Content Personalities: Working with Others without Going Insane

> "This job would be easy if it weren't for the people."

  • too many people in too many organizations

Sometimes the hardest thing about being a content strategist or creator is taking the direction you’ve been given, interpreting it, and turning it into amazing content . Depending on your personality and the type of partner you're working with, getting from idea to ready-to-post content can be challenging.

Just as we can use archetypes as a tool to help us understand our audiences, we can use the similar patterns to help us take a deeperlook into what motivates our partners before we create content. Over my career, I've had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of personalities in a wide variety of organizations. Just about everyone I've worked with can be categorized into one of four personality types: Artists, Admins, Analysts, and Absentees. It's not that one type of personality is better or worse than another, but using this tool helps me quickly find a tactic on how to understand my partner and move through conflict.


The Artist

The artist is a master of creativity. This person produces extremely engaging content that is bound to turn heads and generate buzz. Everything this person puts on paper is shear genius and you always kick yourself for not coming up with it on your own. This person is an excellent person to work under and you should soak up everything they do like a sponge!

The artist can’t seem to let you take the reigns – not even a little bit. Getting them to delegate is a nightmare and managing them definitely out of the question. This creative genius does not need to be managed.

Working with an Artist:
Chances are, delegating is hard is because this person is too busy to think about what needs to be done, thinks they are the only person who can do it the right way (a bit of a prima donna), and doesn’t have the time or the energy to “bring you up to speed”.

If this is the case, try the multiple-choice strategy. Instead of asking what you can do, come up with a list of suggestions.

“I know there’s a lot going on, and I know x, y, and z are a priority. How about I help you with x by creating an outline, or coming up with a list of blog posts?”


The Admin

Admins are management masters. It is likely that this person has a process document that details everything from updating the editorial calendar to writing a Tweet. This person is an excellent task manager (and may even be a bit of a micromanager) but they sure do have their stuff together. Everything in your department is well timed, planned, and thought-out down to the last detail.

The problem with this type of content partner is they are so tied to the process that the content they produce tends to be boring. Efficiency is one thing, but there has to be a creative drive. You’ve got to find the space amongst the day-to-day to be inspired and create something that will engage your readers. How can you do that when everything has been precisely timed and you feel as though you’ve been handcuffed to your desk like some sort of content machine!?

Working with an Admin
First off, you’ve got to find that sweet spot in the planning and developing stages to insert your creativity. This could mean coming up with a list of ways to create “more engaging content” and presenting them to the team at the next planning meeting or it could mean scheduling a “creativity session” to give your boss a scheduled time to rethink content or brainstorm new ideas. For the administrative types that tend to be micromanagers, make sure you communicate your progress and creative ideas ahead of time. You might also try letting them give you a go at the content. Always be ready to explain your process.


The Analyst

Know someone who is an absolute analytics nerd? They're the Analyst. This person wholeheartedly believes that metrics will set you free and will always turn to the numbers for answers. What’s great about this is that you will always have hard data on what works and doesn’t work that can be used to report back to upper management.

The problem is that analysts can be so data driven that the data dictates their content strategy. This means that you likely won’t be given the go-ahead to try anything new because there’s no data to back it up.

Working with an Analyst
For the analyst, you’ve got to get scientific. You can’t just suggest trying a bunch of new ideas and wait to see if they work. For the analyst you’ll need to plan out what you are going to change, how you are going to implement the change and how you are going to track it. If you want to be even more proactive, look for another company doing something similar and gather some data on their success.


The Absentee

The Absentee is exactly that: absent. This person does not want to participate in the process. They just want to get it done. The beauty of this type of leader is that you are free to do and try whatever you want. You will also have the opportunity to stretch yourself as a leader to help fill the void.

The problem is that you may not get the direction you need and end up doing things twice because you are forced to make assumptions that may or may not be correct. If this is the case, try not to take their criticism personally. Remain objective and gather data that will help you for the next round.

Working with an Absentee
Take advantage of the times the absentee is present. If there’s one meeting a month you get with this person, come prepared with all of your questions and requests for feedback. Also, try to frame your arguments to include something you know this person cares about.

Knowing how to identify the type of partner you're working with, what makes them tick, and how to work around your differences in workflow will make your life so much easier.

How about you? Which content personality are you? Your boss? Your team? Your subject matter experts? Are there any personalities you'd add? Let's keep the conversation going in the comments!