Typical Business Personas

It is fair to say, that having worked in the industry for over 30 years, I have witnessed a wide range of human characteristics in the multitude of offices where I have provided training and coaching.

These attributes have even developed into thinly disguised management doctrines given the fullness of time, creating a new normal or even a benchmark against which individuals’ performances can be measured. Whilst this may sound comical, it is a sad indictment on management for allowing it to thrive and ultimately creating obstacles to career progression (for the individual) and employee retention (for the company).

The idea of this article is to share some of these observations with a wider audience, highlight some of the human conditions, and in passing, gauge whether there are any familiar traits close to home or even in your office! It is also a fun and lighthearted trip around the human zoo!



Meet “Know–It All Norman”

The leader of the Pack, that is if you are sentimentally harking back to the days of Empire when the boss’ word went unchallenged. This may have worked in the 60’s and 70’s but has little relevance to the modern office, yet in certain offices, it is very much alive and kicking!

Norman’s typical phrases are

  • “Just get on and do it”
  • “It’s my way or the highway”
  • “After your training course, I don’t expect you to come back and start making changes”

Norman is clearly someone who does not see the need or benefit of developing people and needs educating that people are the most important asset in any business.

Ways to get through to Norman

  • Come up with better ways of doing things
  • Refine internal processes and systems
  • Be results driven; highlight that as a result of effective coaching you have increased your performance and can mentor others to achieve the same

People like Norman can be tough nuts to crack but with the right planning, strategy, and ego-massaging anything is possible!



Meet “Perfect Paula”

A dynamic and energetic leader who leads from the front encourages conversation, and regular team huddles as well as reinforcing the importance of team development. Paula has a collaborative approach to management frequently asking for input, ideas, and initiatives.

Paula’s typical phrases are

  • “What does the team think?”
  • “I don’t have the answer, do you?”
  • “Learning exhausts, the mind”

OK, clearly, we have overindulged Paula’s attributes (although the Perfect in front of her name was a bit of a give-away!). The difficulty leaders of this nature often have, is trying to be all things to all people and sometimes they are unable to differentiate the shining stars within the team. As we all work in highly competitive office environments, sometimes this collective leadership style can thwart personal ambition.

So here are some tips to go that extra mile with Paula

  • Allow yourself thinking time at work about how certain procedures work and if there is the opportunity to change something, be the first to offer ideas during team meetings
  • Always offer solutions not problems
  • Request training in areas outside of your comfort zone, this will not happen overnight, but be determined to demonstrate that you want to be a “lion rather than a sheep”.

People like Paula are great bosses to work for, but you may need to show that extra bit of sparkle to get to that next level.

  1. SALES

Meet “Pushy Pete”

The archetypal sales – person, Pete knows all the tricks in the trade to clinch a deal. Although he also alienates around 50% of the new prospects that he meets. As his persona suggests his often-insistent overtures to new clients can readily be misinterpreted as desperation.

The type of catchphrases you can often hear Pete say are

  • “Hit the phones everybody, lets energise the room!!”
  • “That’s how it’s done…I’m on fire!”
  • “What I’m talking about is going to be epic!”

In Pete’s world every day seems like an interview for the next series of the Apprentice! His raw enthusiasm and exuberance giving way to a thick rhino-like hide, which deflects any negativity provided by the prospect. Whilst I would agree that some of these may be good characteristics for a salesperson to have, there is a need for balance, and this is where Pete needs help. Ever heard the expression, “Too much sunshine makes a desert?”

How to help Pete

  • Channel his energies into pathways that will enhance his prospects with prospects!
  • Provide a list of “do’s and don’ts whilst talking to new clients
  • All the above are effectively provided through simple and advanced training programmes, which he must buy into, and sometimes financial incentives may be Pete’s primary enticement.

Managed, correctly the Pete persona can be an enormous asset to an organisation provided the right blend of sales characteristics are trained in and utilised effectively.

  1. SALES

Meet “Jingle Jeremy”

Jeremy represents the youthful end of the sales spectrum and talks in riddles and clichés as he latches onto the latest shiny thing, he saw on TV the night before or online earlier that morning on his way to work.

A highly creative individual, he sometimes inhabits Jeremy’s world a land that only he fully understands and appreciates. The problem he encounters is that sometimes not all his targeted sales clients fully understand his language, banter, or comments.

Typical phraseology that Jeremy might use includes

  • “I just wanted to check in with you…I’m just circling back!”
  • Is now a good time for us to shoot the breeze?”
  • How soon could you switch if I genuinely impressed the nuts off you”

Jeremy’s heart is in the right place, but he has not been given the relevant guidance, or training to fully understand all the nuances of the sales process.

How to help Jeremy

  • Point out to him that banter in a sales environment will only work once a rapport and relationship have been developed with the client
  • Sales do not revolve around the latest shiny thing and often polished diversions lead nowhere, stay focused on the product or service in front of you.
  • Effectively nurture and provide a series of structured training pathways with plenty of follow-up and feedback loops to ensure that old habits have died hard!



Meet “Chattering Charlotte”

In this functional discipline, conversation is key, however, it is critical that the individual is in receive and transmit mode, rather than just transmit!

Charlotte loves the sound of her own voice and dominates the client conversation. Sometimes to such an extent that you feel that she has beaten the client into submission.

The phrase “we have 2, ears and 1 mouth for a reason”, seems to be lost on Charlotte, and therein lies the problem. Unless you are a good “listening board” customer service may not be the ideal career choice.

The types of lengthy conversations Charlotte engages in are beyond the scope of this blog, however, some common buzz phrases will include the following sentences

  • “I’ll try and do that for you, but my manager may not agree, I’ll transfer you to him now!”
  • “That course of action is against our policy!”
  • “You will of course need to formally write in and request a refund!”

Charlotte clearly has the gift of the gab but simultaneously suffers from verbal diarrhea. The key is to filter the useful elements of her conversation and channel them into positive words that resonate rather than grate on clients.

How to help Charlotte

  • Get her to listen, listen and do more listening!!
  • Get her to adopt a less is more type of approach.
  • Provide timely training support to channel the conversation into a filtered funnel from which positive outcomes will prevail.



Meet “Nonchalant Nicole”

Sometimes called the “listening postNicole has turned her auditory skills into an art form. No client no matter how rude or abusive will ever phase Nicole, she remains calm and assertive, irrespective of the vitriol being directed her way. She is the epitome of cool, evaluates the problem in front of her, and aims to provide a prompt solution to the problem.

Typical phrases used by Nicole are:

  • “That’s not my area of expertise, but I want to connect you with someone who can help.”
  • “I’m sorry for this inconvenience. Let me help you with that right away.”
  • “I’ll get right on it. If that is OK, I’d like to look into this today and call back to you once I resolve this.”

Nicole’s experience and calmness needs to be harnessed and redistributed amongst all team members as over a period of time she has learned that the skill of the job is not to over-talk or overthink but recognise situations and apply a stock library answer to each scenario quickly.

How to help Nicole

  • Make sure she is used in any train-the-trainer situation
  • Make her the mentor for junior staff
  • Don’t’ take her for granted and ensure that she is felt wanted, safe, and financially secure within the organisation… as we all know Nicole’s are really difficult to replace!

If you are thinking about sales, customer service, or leadership coaching please send an email to or call me on 020 8337 5937