Improve Manager/Employee communication styles

Many of my clients utilize personality type assessments to coach managers on how to communicate more effectively with their employees.  They have shared that their biggest challenge is providing useful tips that the managers can easily integrate into their day-to-day interactions with their employees. To address this challenge, I have created the table below which lists potential challenges or conflicts for individuals that have different personality preferences.  I also included suggested techniques that managers can try when communicating with individuals who have a different personality preference.

 

Employee who prefers…

Struggles with a manager who…

When communicating with an employee with this style…

Extraversion (E)

Communicates primarily through emails.

Does not make time to talk with the employee.

 

Allot time to discuss the employee’s concerns and ideas.

Solicit the employee’s input.

Recognize them verbally for a job well done.

Involve the employee in a variety of activities/projects.

Schedule brainstorming and collaboration into team meetings.

Introversion (I)

Wants to talk out all aspects of problems and interrupts private time when the employee is getting the real work done.

Let the employee speak first.  Actively listen to what they are saying (rather than focusing on what you will say next).

Slow down your actions (stop and think before you act).

Allow time and space for employee to do his/her best work.

Provide information prior to a meeting so that he/she can formulate ideas.

Sensing (S)

Doesn’t state expectations or goals clearly.

Doesn’t articulate how their vision specifically relates to the employee.

Implements new ideas without regards to what has worked well in the past.

Share direct and specific examples to illustrate the vision that you have (step by step).

Be careful to not implement unnecessary changes.

Recognize the employee’s experience.

Honor traditions of the team.

Intuition (N)

Immediately points out why new ideas won’t work.

Are too specific and make the employee feel “micromanaged”.

Does not allow the employee the freedom to figure out the approach on their own.

Provide the employee the data that you have and ask for insights on what it could mean.

Discuss why you are implementing a change.

Discuss challenges with the employee and ask for input on new possibilities.

Allow them autonomy in how to pursue projects.

Thinking

Appear inconsistent or illogical.

Express emotion in the workplace.

 

Apply the same principles/rules to all employees.

Be direct and simple when providing feedback.

Hold firm to decisions that are made.

Be concise when leaving voicemails or sending emails.

Discuss the “pros and cons” and “if we do this…then…will happen”.

Feeling

Managers who appear cold or detached.

Managers who do not make accommodations for employees who may have a unique situation.

Treat each employee as a unique individual whose special concerns must be taken into account.

Prefer to be recognized for accomplishments throughout a project.

Share with the employee who the key stakeholders are and who else has been included in the decision making process.

Go beyond work conversations to share personal facts and insights to the employee.

Judging/Organizing

Delay decisions.

Change deadlines and then expects everyone to rush at the last minute to complete the project.

Does not provide a structure to work within.

Set deadlines and stick to the timeframe.

Follow through with work.

Allow plenty of time to produce high quality work.

Keep surprises to a minimum.

Reduce the options provided to the team.

Perceiving/Adapting

Provides tight schedules and constantly monitors progress.

Enable employee to work at their own pace and in their own way to complete a project.

Be tolerant of interruptions to the work day.

Provide contingencies to the planned processes.

Allow flexibility in the work schedule if possible.

 

Recommended resources for more information

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Do organizations really value employees who critically think?

I recently came across an article by Andrew Jacobs, Being critical for a moment | Lost and Desperate which examines critical thinking and creativity/innovation within organizations. 

The author asked, “Do we assume people in the workplace are able and encouraged to critically think?” One follower replied, “very few roles require critical thinking capability. Most need problem solving and customer service attitude.” 

I thought this was very interesting. I spend a lot of time with organizations talking about the importance of hiring and developing critical thinking skills among employees. I discuss the importance of, “thought based organizations” where diversity of thinking is valued and encouraged. However, do organizations really want critical thinkers? Remember that the critical thinkers are the often the ones who question norms and callout mistakes.  They can be the squeaky wheels.  Do organizations value employees who question the norms and culture or are they labeled as trouble makers? There is a Japanese proverb that states that, “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down”.  Is this the case within corporations?  Will the critical thinker who speaks out be encouraged or hammered down to fit into the existing culture? 

What do you think?  Are we encouraging critical thought in the workplace?  Should we?

Improve retention with “stay interviews” instead of exit interviews

I came across an interesting article about a new trend to help with employee retention. It is called “stay interviews”.  Instead of an exit interview (which the author compares to “closing the barn doors after the horses are out”) the focus is on why employees are staying.  

The concept of stay interviews is interesting because the data would help employers understand what motivates their employees. Why do the employees show up to work everyday? How does the job help them achieve their dreams? 

The best way to find out the answers to these questions would be to ask the employees what motivates them but how many companies actually do this? Or should I ask, how many companies actually make changes based on the feedback? It is not enough to ask the question but an action (or explanation) must occur as a result. Otherwise the information is simply information and won’t improve retention. 

Check out the article: Hiring Wisdom: Why You REALLY Need to Do Retention Interviews

Does your organization track employee motivators? How?

Critical Thinking – Questions to help improve decision making

Do you have an important decision to make? Here are a list of questions to help guide you

• What is the key issue/problem that you are trying to resolve?
• What information do you have about this issue?
• What are your ideas and assumptions that support your strategy or plan?
• Is there solid evidence to support those assumptions, and what might be some gaps in your reasoning?
• Who are the key stakeholders and what are their viewpoints?
• What other ideas should be explored, and what else do you need to know?
• What are the pros and cons of the solution that you are proposing?
• What are your biases? Is there someone who has a different opinion than yours that you could run your ideas by?
• What impact will your decision have on others? How will you handle this?
• Who would disagree with your proposed solution? What is the rationale that supports their viewpoint?
• What key points, models and/or perspectives do you need to keep in mind as you evaluate the options?
• What will be the impact of your decision?
After evaluating all of the facts, what is the best possible conclusion?
• What specific evidence is driving your conclusion?
• Is there new evidence that would impact your decision?

I co-authored a white paper that provides more examples and information about the importance of critical thinking in business.  Check it out: “Critical Thinking Means Business”

Type and Decision Making

Personality type indicators are one way that you can help guide individuals and teams through a systematic decision making process based on personal styles.  A popular model for decision making that leverages personality type is the zig-zag model or Z model.

Below is a summary of how each type prefers to implement a decision:

Extraverts typically will

         Feel comfortable taking a visible role

         Prepared to alter a decision to meet external demands

         Delegate liberally

Introverts typically will

         Feel comfortable working behind the scenes

         Be reluctant to alter a decision to meet external demands

         Delegate sparingly

 

Sensing types will typically

         Focus on attaining tangible goals

         What to have or follow precise instructions

         Feel motivated by connecting current actions to immediate benefits

iNtuitive types will typically

         Focus on attaining conceptual goals

         Want to have or follow general guidelines

         Feel motivated by connecting current actions to future possibilities

 

Thinking types typically will:

         See efficiency first

         Support the decision maker by supporting the decision making process

         Be tough when necessary to keep things on track

 

Feeling types typically will

         Seek cooperation first

         Support the decision making process by supporting the decision maker

         Be encouraging when necessary to keep things on track

Judging/Organizaing types will typically

         Establish time frames and identify milestones

         Expect to follow through and stick to the plan

         Minimize the interruptions and diversions in the interest of achieving the outcome

 

Perceiving/Adapting types will typically

         Introduce broad parameters and suggest optimal outcomes

         Expect to adapt and make adjustments to the plan

         Respond to interruptions and diversions in the interest of enriching the outcome

I was laughing as I pulled this list together.  I am in the process of a major life decision and I have found myself delegating liberally, connecting current actions to future possibilities, encouraging others to see opportunities and making adjustments to my plan constantly.  There is no denying that I am an ENFP.  Do any of these examples relate to your personal style? 

Personality & Transition Management

It is nearly impossible to meet all of the differing (and sometimes contradicting) needs during a period of organizational change.  However if you can understand how different types experience transition and cater to these different types within your organization, then you will be one step closer to making change exciting and positive!

Below are a few insights pulled from the book, Introduction to Type® and Change that will help you understand more about the 4 dichotomies and their varying reactions to change:

Extraversion/Introversion: During times of change, those who prefer Extraversion will want to hear and talk about the upcoming change so they can externally process their thoughts and feelings. In contrast, people who prefer Introversion will want time to reflect and may need some time alone to process the upcoming change internally.

Sensing/Intuition: When confronted with change, Sensing types will appreciate hearing the specific and realistic data that shows why changes must be made, as well as details about how things will change and what will be expected of them. Those with a preference for Intuition will be more concerned with whether the changes fit with their ideas about the future of the organization, and how the big picture will be affected.  They often will want to know why the change is happening in the first place.

 

Thinking/Feeling: To process change, Thinking types need logical explanations for the change, as well as evidence that the leadership is competent, and that the change is fair and objective. The Feeling types will be more likely to focus on how the people will be affected, and will want to see that leadership is concerned and compassionate, and that all involved parties are supported.

 

Judgment/Perceiving: Those who prefer Judging will want plans, schedules, and time frames for changes that management should be held accountable to. This helps them know there is an end point, and that stability will return eventually. Perceivers want flexibility in the plans, schedules, and time frames so that they have room to respond to new information, make midcourse corrections, and use their resourcefulness.

 

Understanding how different types perceive change is paramount to providing support and guidance to yourself and your team during transition. If you would like a deeper look at how the combinations of preference reveal employee patterns during times of change, check out Introduction to Type® and Change. This book will help you orchestrate positive organizational change by teaching you to:

          More fully understand your own reactions to change

          Recognize how change will impact the people that make up your work groups and organizations

          Stimulate organization-wide appreciation for differences during transition

          Develop organizational transitions that flow smoothly and are positively received

Could the personality of HR Executives impact their ability to communicate with the C-Suite?

HR Executive magazine printed an interesting article by Scott Flander that examines the personality of C-suite executives.  The data suggests that there are personality differences between HR professionals and other senior executives (operations, sales, finance, IT).  Check out the article here online at: HR Executive Online Magazine