I’ve been in the human resources field for more than 20 years, which means that more than two decades of experience has taught me that what might be good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander. One of my first jobs was with a manufacturing company, and I was responsible for handling the HR needs of three plants in Greensboro, N.C. My boss was great: Even back then, I could work a flexible schedule, which would allow me meet with employees who worked the second and overnight shifts. I created a schedule that worked for me and stuck to it.
A few months into the role, I was assigned an intern. In determining her schedule, I treated her the same way my boss treated me and allowed her to create her own schedule. The first couple of days were fine; she was arriving on time and getting her work done. Over the next few days, however, her punctuality started to slip—a lot. Lack of punctuality and a disregard for timeliness are among my biggest pet peeves. When I spoke to her about it, she reminded me that I had said we were flexible on schedules, and she assumed that meant start times too. I went straight to my boss to ask how to handle the situation, and that was when I first learned that you can’t manage everyone in the same way.
Here we are in 2019, and I have learned so much about the different personality types, which directly affects how I speak to employees and how I coach managers. Stephanie Carnes, a certified MBTI consultant with The LMC Group, says, “One of the great insights of personality theory is that people have a variety of in-born, recognizable traits that influence their habits, relationships, and priorities. Knowing yourself and knowing your employees can help you adapt your management style to be more effective. It may take more work, but your results will be far greater.”
"Knowing yourself and knowing your employees can help you adapt your management style to be more effective. – Stephanie Carnes of The LMC GroupTalking about different personality types within the context of MBTI (or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) means looking at people through the lenses of introversion versus extroversion, sensing versus intuition, thinking versus feeling, and judging versus perceiving. MBTI is based on the theories of psychiatrist Carl Jung, who speculated that people experience the world using four principal psychological functions, to determine each individual’s combination of dominant functions.
Let’s look at a few everyday conversations and interactions we have with our employees to further explore the idea of customizing management style—and underscore why it’s so important.
Giving feedback, praise, and constructive criticism
No one likes harsh, negative feedback. People who rely more on how they feel rather than what they think about certain situations will respond best to feedback or criticism that is expressed compassionately and positively. Those who rely more on how they think about situations will want to hear specific, actionable information. Thinkers work best when they know what they are working toward, so be sure they understand the end goal; meanwhile, feelers need to see how they can make a difference for the company, their coworkers, and clients.
Providing guidance and direction
Have you ever noticed that you have some employees who are great at knocking out to-do lists, but others who can’t seem to mark off the first item? This could be due to differing personality types—not performance, as we are so often too quick to assume. I’ll give you an example: My son and I have the same tennis coach. When she wants me to change something about my stroke or my position on the court, she tells me what to change, and I do it, no questions asked. My son, however, needs her to explain why the change is needed and the benefits it will yield before he can buy into the change. It’s the same with our employees. Knowing how our employees need to receive information and direction will ensure more immediate and effective results.
Setting goals and objectives
Most personality types are not primarily motivated by money once they have enough to meet their needs. The notion that everyone is driven by bonuses or a higher salary has been debunked years ago, and yet many companies and managers still think their employees will perform better or stay with the company if they are making more money or offered a monetary incentive. What truly motivates a person is complicated to figure out, and if you aren’t asking your employees questions about what motivates them, what interests them, and what they like about the company, you may never get to the heart of their motivator. Offering a range of rewards can help. Involve employees in goal-setting discussions. As with the other topics, you will have some employees who are more comfortable with numeric goals, and others who will want to understand what success looks like in a broader sense.
"Understanding your employees’ motivation for their performance and finding a way to encourage that will result in higher retention rates."Retention
As I mentioned above, retention is no longer based solely on an employee’s salary and benefits offered. More and more individuals are looking for flexible work schedules, a better work/life balance, and the need to be a contributing part of their team and company. Many want to work for a company that gives back to its community and does more than just rake in the revenue. There are other individuals who enjoy the daily grind of knowing they clock in at 8 a.m., work a stress-free day, clock out at 5 p.m. and don’t think about work again until 8:00 a.m. the next day. Understanding your employees’ motivation for their performance and finding a way to encourage that will result in higher retention rates.
Figuring out your employees’ personality types is difficult without administering personality tests. But if you take the time to get to know your staff, include them in goal-setting and objectives, listen for what they tell you they enjoy about their job and the company, and watch the way they work and make decisions, you’ll start to understand the best form of communication to ensure you are getting the most from your entire team.
Oh, and if you are wondering what happened to the intern, we discussed that a flexible schedule meant she was allowed to set her schedule but that she had to stick to it. Once that was clearly communicated, she earned her college credit and went on to graduate with a business degree, making me thankful I learned early on to modify my management style based on the person I am managing. [CD0319]
Christina Fiorenza is the HR Director for the LMC Group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.