Have you ever taken time to think of yourself as a manager? I wanted to title this article, “Become a better manager,” but I knew that most people would think, “Oh, this one’s not for me; I’m not a manager.” Yes you are, because everyone is a manager.
Think about it. If you’re a parent, you must manage a household and your child(ren.) That gets a lot of you right there. But even the single person living alone must manage his or her household and a job. If you have your own business, you’re definitely a manager. Even children are managers of their time, schedules, friends, school, play activities, etc. So wouldn’t it make sense to spend some time on becoming a better manager? Let’s talk about that today.
One of the toughest aspects of being a manager is dealing with people. We struggle with this as children, teenagers, young adults, and into maturity. Since there are so many subjects around being an effective manager, today I’m going to stick with ways of managing people.
Steve Chandler says that you cannot manage people, you can only manage results, and while I agree that we certainly cannot control people, no matter how much we try, I believe there’s a little more to it than just managing results. I’ve also learned, through managing my husband’s dental practice, that trying to get results from people can be impossible if you don’t first learn how to work through people.
The first aspect I want to address is our own expectations as managers. Most of the time, we expect employees to share the same passion and sense of responsibility that we do as managers or owners. We expect coaches and teachers to care as much about our children as we do. We expect friends and family to share our interests and values. That’s not always possible. In fact, you’re lucky when you find someone who cares as much about anything as you do.
To get around this, companies will offer incentive programs, with the idea that if we can’t get the employee to earnestly care about the business, we will motivate him or her through profit sharing. We tip people and offer money “under the table” in attempts to persuade them to do their best with our best interests at heart. Sometimes these systems work, but not always.
The final approach is the “laying down the law,” where the employee is told to “shape up or ship out.” We offer ultimatums – do it my way, or get out of my life. More often than not, the individual leaves and you, the manager, are stuck with hiring and training someone new. That’s probably for the best – for everyone – but if you find yourself in this situation frequently, it can become very frustrating. So let’s discuss some ways to avoid turnover, whether we’re talking about employees, your children’s friends, soccer coach, hair stylist, store clerk, mechanic, etc.
One of the best ways I have found to work with and through people is to understand their personalities. I specifically like the DiSC Personal Profile System. My husband and I learned this system about 8 years ago and have come to rely on it when hiring employees, and have found it extremely useful in our personal relationships as well. Let me give you an overview.
According to DiSC, people fall into one of four primary personality dimensions:
D – Dominance. These people are highly driven, often considered difficult to work with, but they get the job done. Our society is as advanced as it is because of “D’s.” They are quick to make decisions, they accept challenges readily, and have no trouble taking authority. They are very direct, and have no problem with confrontation. D’s are “natural born” leaders.
I – Influence. These people are very well-liked. They are upbeat and positive, great speakers with excellent communication skills. They tend to be teachers, motivational speakers, salespeople, and entertainers. Everyone loves an I. They are good at generating enthusiasm and practicing “non-judgment.”
S – Steadiness. These people are very cooperative and good team players. They like predictable, stable results and work. They have an extreme amount of patience, displaying loyalty, and love helping others. They are “keepers of the peace,” and often become health care workers. They desire to keep their routines without much change, and they do not like conflict.
C – Conscientiousness. These people are diligent workers who strive to ensure quality and accuracy in everything they are involved with. They are often described as “slow, but excellent,” in what they do. They like to “think things through” and have high standards for themselves and others. They are very reserved, both personally and professionally, and as a result, are often viewed as “shy.” They are the computer programmers and accountants in our lives.
So, have you pegged yourself yet? Most people can right away, and while we all have some aspects of all the personalities, we tend to steer toward one or two. My husband is a Dc, meaning that D is his prominent type, with C being a significant, although not as strong, influence. I am an Idc, with a very low S component.
If you take a few minutes to think about the people in your life, you’ll quickly be able to put them into one of these four types. Of course, the only way to know for sure is to take the test, but here’s the thing: we are different in different situations. So the person who is the strong D at work, might become an S when coaching his son’s little league team. So when you’re trying to get along with someone, you can only respond to that part of his or her personality that is coming out during those times.
We have found in business, that it is important to put people where they belong, or where they want to be, so to speak. The same goes for people you “employ” to do work for you, or people who volunteer such as with church or children’s groups. The job duties should fit the personality of the person seeking to fulfill those duties, or problems will arise.
Let’s take a look at what each personality type is looking for and how that might fit into your life.
Dominant types love power and authority. So using the expression, “You’re the boss,” works well at influencing this person. They are they type who can be assigned a task and left on their own to come up with the means to accomplish it. They do not like to have someone looking over their shoulder and with good reason, they don’t need someone looking over their shoulder. They don’t necessarily need to be recognized or praised often, but it does work well if they are the only person in the company with their particular duties, and everyone knows it. They love a challenge and love to “change things up” a lot. D’s like direct answers, so a quick Yes or No or as direct as possible is preferred, otherwise, they will get bored with you and move on. They have a lot of energy and like to get things done as quickly as possible so they can move on to the next task.
When dealing with D’s on a personal level, you must be direct with them and stand up to them when necessary. They are great to have around, because they are so self-motivated. But they can be difficult when it comes to getting their own way. They sometimes forget that other people have needs, but once you point that out to them, they will usually back down. Recognizing their authority and giving them the power in the situation will go a long way.
Influencers like to have input on all levels and have a strong desire to be popular. Publicly recognizing them for their abilities and effort will go a long way in getting along with this personality type. Problems with I’s usually arise when time is of the essence, because I’s like to put things off until the last minute. If you’re trying to work with an I, and you’re the type who likes to work ahead of schedule, you’ll become frustrated quickly! Getting agreement from this person on an intermedieate deadline would be of tremendous value to both of you. These people are the life of the party, but don’t expect a lot of attention to detail.
When dealing with I’s on a personal level, listen to their side of the story, and let them come up with possible solutions to the problem. Most of the time, that’s all you will need to do.
Steadiness types like to maintain the status quo, so if change is on your agenda, be prepared! The best plan would be to implement change gradually, and give valid reasons for why the changes are taking place. While they will give you the clothes off their backs when “on duty,” these people do not like to take their work home with them, so don’t expect it.
When dealing with S’s on a personal level, offer sincere appreciation for their work. Never confront an S in front of others, and be sure to separate their work performance from their self-worth. Be prepared for tears, as they do not like confrontation at all.
Conscientious types often come across as being non-approachable. In reality, they might be the most approachable because they remain calm, cool, and collected, and truly desire to do their best, so input is generally accepted. If they are doing something wrong they want to know about it, but they too, like S’s, prefer to have such confrontations in private. C’s like to have control over their environment and, as such, are usually organized and systematic.
When dealing with C’s on a personal level, give recognition for specific skills and accomplishments, and give specific suggestions for improvement. They do not tolerate conflict, so approaching the situation from a perspective of “improving the system,” works best.
The best way to use this information is to think right now of a situation that you need to confront, determine the person’s personality type, and brainstorm ways, based on the information I’ve given you, to tackle the problem at hand.
From a preventive approach, we hire people for my husband’s dental practice who like paying attention to details, and who are good at working with others. We prefer to create win-win situations by selecting employees with personality types that would be suitable for the position available, usually an S or a C. Every time we make an exception, we regret it.
Many times we choose people for certain roles in our lives based on the “vibe” we think we’re getting from them. “I really like this person, she’s a good person,” we say, forgetting that she’s completely wrong for the task at hand. Then we become upset when our expectations are not met. The person performing the work is miserable, but doesn’t want to quit. So we put up with each other when everyone would be happier if we could just change the nature of the relationship, or get out of it altogether.
What I mostly want you to get out of this article, is that we all have specific tendencies and needs. If you figure out what the people in your life need to feel their best, and can figure out a way to give it to them, you can keep your life running on a more harmonious level than you previously thought possible. We are all managers of our own lives. Having the skills and knowledge to work with and through others will make you a more successful, happier person.
Good luck on your next encounter. Feel free to comment or e-mail me with any questions.
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