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Effective Management: Focus on the Person

With over 40 years of experience in management, I have learned that the most important element of effective management is not to utilize the same management styles with all team members. Although there are basic core principles that you must adhere to, the resulting interactions should not be the same. You need to look into their personality “make up” and individualize your interactions with them based on their needs. Different personality traits require different approaches for long-term success and relationship building. Let’s talk about the basic core principals which translate across any relationships in your life.

Treat everyone with respect.

This is probably the most compelling interaction you must hold with all team members. If you are respectful, you can then demand the same respect back. I cannot count the number of times I have engaged with a subordinate and had to say, “I have treated you with respect; now I expect you to treat me the same.” It only works if you have done all you can to be respectful when dealing with them, despite any failings in their ability to perform appropriately. It is a much easier conversation if you can say, “I’ve been fair and respectful to you and I expect the same approach when you speak with me”. It will also open the conversation to “Now calmly tell me what has you upset or what’s not working for you in our daily interactions.” This opens the door for a back and forth dialogue with a greater opportunity for a healthy resolution. Respecting someone is a non-negotiable in any management discussion whether positive or negative based.

Treat everyone fairly but not the same.

If you maintain your style across all personality types, you can be confident that you will be able to address any claims of unfairness or special treatment. You hold everyone to the same standards but the difference comes in the way you interact. Different personalities need different management skills from you. Prepare, prepare, prepare is the key for any conversation. Think through what will work most effectively with this person. Be sure to get to truly know your team members and what strategies will be yield the best results.

Be sincere.

There is nothing worse than a manager that acts as if they care but they really are just trying to get the work done. People can spot fakeness and an insincere manager will not earn any respect. If you do not genuinely care about people, you should not be in management.

Now that we discussed some basic values to be a successful manager, let us look at the different personalities and what approach you should take when interacting with them. Remember to always be as positive as you can and make the negative portion only that which is necessary. You are their motivator and in order to be effective, you must recognize both the good and the bad results. As we have all learned from any “how to be an effective manager training courses”, focus on the positive and minimize the negative. If done correctly, you will have the same results, which is to increase productivity from the team member and facilitate a positive attitude in dealing with all members of the team. No one just wants to hear how bad he or she is doing. Everyone wants to hear how good he or she is doing. Finding the right balance is the responsibility of the manager. Our job is to educate, motivate and cultivate a relationship with the team member. They must know that you want them to succeed. If you do not “cheer” for them, then get them off your team, as you will bring no value to their growth.

The easiest personality to manage on paper is the independent worker. This member does not require a lot of attention especially regarding any personal issues. They usually just want to hear vision and they can perform their responsibilities. As a manager, you can be direct, avoid time-consuming pleasantries and assign work as this approach functions for this personality type. More times than not, they just want to do their job without being distracted. However, be careful to make sure to do occasional touchpoint so not to go too far from the basic skills above. Although it might not have to be often, randomly reach out and just ask “You good? It will go a long way even though they may not show it.

At the other end of the spectrum, is the personality that deals with insecurity issues. This is the most difficult and time-consuming trait because despite spending time to make sure you say things in a positive manner, and especially if you are addressing some failings, it is still often misconstrued as severe criticism. As a manager, you need to do a thorough preparation for these engagements. Find ways to address the negative and rephrase them so that the team member figures out the need for change themselves. This will help prevent a reaction from a place of hurt. These conversations need to go slowly, as to allow time for them to find solutions on their own, with you driving it. If you strike a chord, re-group and ask the team member to discuss what they are feeling right now. Try to address their immediate concerns and keep them engaged until the initial feelings pass. At the end, be sure to accentuate any positive things they have done so to reduce the insecurity feelings. At that time, you can then create a plan for improvement without it based solely on negative performance. This personality type also needs some daily personal interactions. They need to hear salutations when you see them. They need you to listen to personal stories current or past. You need to make the time, give your undivided attention and be sure to follow up later to see how things panned out, especially if it is family or health related concerns. This will forge a stronger bond.

Another personality trait is the person who knows it all. They can be disruptive in meetings and you feel there is a constant battle for control. It is important that you set boundaries and make it clear that you are the one leading the team. I have a story from my first few years in the business in a leadership role. I was managing over 30 employees and I had one team member that made it her mission to work on my insecurities as a new manager. After weeks of dealing with disrespect, I was running a meeting and addressing accountability to results and she stood up and sarcastically asked, “Are you going to let us know what you are completing every day? At that point, I turned to her and said, “I forget, am I working for you or are you working for me as when I last checked you were working for me?” I never had a problem after that and to this day, I appreciate her for teaching me to stand up for myself as a manager.” If you come across someone trying to undermine your authority, be sure to set the record straight in front of your entire team. However, once the authority has been clearly defined, set about to make them your ally. With that confident air, they might even become a very valuable contributing member of the team.

The most challenging personality trait to manage is the passive-aggressive type. You have to be careful because many times the real intent is hidden, hence the passive approach. It is important that you break down the passive and really understand what is making them aggressive. Many times, it is founded in some self-esteem baggage that they carry. The aggression may be stemming from the fact that they feel they could do it better or mad that you do not think they are good enough. If you seek out what they are really saying and address it directly, you will find they cannot continue to use the passive approach. Get to them by building up their self-esteem and make it a safe space to be honest about what is causing them to feel a certain way. Whether it is underappreciated or overworked, you can recognize what they truly need to feel better. It will give them a safe forum to address what they are feeling. Give them a chance to make changes and include them in decision making in a more collaborative way.

Just to save the best for last is the social personality that just needs love, affection and to feel part of the family. Make them your focus, as they will bring the most joy to the team. As we spend most of our life in our working hours, we need to fulfill our basic human instinct for belonging. Highlight the team members that add warmth into our work world. Remain cognizant if the socializing becomes a results issue but as long as they are doing their work to their best, reward them for their positivity.

Be real. Be sincere. Be a partner.

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