Managing People

Don’t Forget Taking Personality Into Account

In theory in a conventional chain-of-command organization,

  • Those at the top set the vision and issue the directives.
  • Those in the middle interpret those directives and ensure that they are understood and followed.
  • Those at the bottom do the work.

If everyone buys into this, things run great and everyone is happy…right?

What if reality dictates that those at the top have personal motivators…and simply expect those below them to follow their orders blindly, without taking into account that their staff personalities might conflict with theirs? Is it likely that they’ll get the performance and loyalty they expect they deserve? Each person in the organization hears, interprets and acts based on their own unique personality.

A constructive use of personality differences builds high performance teams. Recognizing these will allow you as a Manager to benefit by:

  • reduced conflict
  • better assignment of roles and responsibilities
  • faster response to change
  • clearer definition of the team’s strengths
  • increased innovation and productivity

There are a number of personality types, based on the research of well-known psychologist Carl Jung, Isabel Myers and others. Identifying the factors involved usually is best determined by using a profiling or assessment tool (blatant plug to call the writer for more information). Make sure you consider factors such as these:


As mentioned, the first factor is the Dominant vs. Accepting person. The dominant is going to go head to head with you over most things, and is in need of a rational explanation to give it their all. The accepting type is going to be happy to do a good job for you; just ensure you clearly convey their assignment and task role. They usually won’t mind if you check up on them, whereas the dominant person may take offense to this; best to have them report to you that a project is completed or give them a check-list to submit.
The second factor, Sociable vs. Logical is very important. The sociable doesn’t work well in isolated work situations and requires team dynamics to get the most out of them. The logical individual is probably less empathetic to others, but gets the job done without group stimulation. Just give them a task to perform and the tools to get it done.

Relaxed vs. Restless; the relaxed individual will get their usual or traditional workload done, but may find difficulty being saddled with many time-sensitive projects. The restless individual likely looks forward to multi-tasking with tight deadlines, and actually thrives under these circumstances. They may have a slightly higher error frequency that the relaxed type who usually double and triple-checks their work.

The fourth, Compliant vs. Independent speaks for itself.  This may give you a better sense of who is a leader versus a follower. An independent is often good at specialization versus the compliant to may do a very good job in the role they were hired to do.  Year after year, the compliant will want to go by the book, avoid mistakes and shortfalls versus the Independent, who is often a risk taker.  Not that either is a bad thing, but as previously mentioned, the right personality in the right role equals success.

A good profiling system may indicate that the individual attempts to stretch the truth on any one or more of these factors. This isn’t easily determined via traditional interview methods and is critical to know, because people do things for their reasons. That’s a basic principle that holds true whether related to work or family life. They will usually do whatever they think will be the most beneficial to them.

In other words, you’ll never motivate others unless you understand their motivation factors. To do so, you need to understand their personality type and how best to accomplish this. If you do and can make the individual feel their motivation comes from within, it will make your job a lot easier.

By merely integrating this understanding alone into your management style, you’ll significantly reduce the amount of friction, tension, dissent, stress, and upset as well as the potential for misunderstandings, miscommunication, and conflict. You’ll also find that people will naturally develop a sense of pride in the work they perform. On the other hand, if you don’t incorporate this basic concept, there’s a very good chance you’ll continue to be caught off guard when dealing with others, and may repeatedly find yourself embroiled in some sort of power struggle.
A good manager knows that people need to feel accepted for who they are, long to be recognized for their contributions, and want to enjoy themselves when interacting with their peers or superiors. Our web site survey results back this up 100%. Recognition outpaces money for 99% of the working population.

A wise supervisor remembers the importance of the individual and knows that when folks feel good about themselves, they’ll naturally reach higher standards in their performance and be motivated for their reasons and not yours. An intelligent person uses this information to help people become more productive and effective in what they do.

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