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Understanding the people puzzle.

PEOPLE ARE DIFFERENT, WHAT MOTIVATES ONE PERSON may turn another off, so one of the most valuable skills a manager in any business can have is the ability to understand people. People send signals that let others know how to work with them most effectively. If a manager learns what to look and listen for, he or she will know exactly how to motivate staff members.

Everyone has the same basic emotional needs, but a need's dominance varies from person to person. The four major groups of needs are results, recognition, regimentation, and relationships. For example, some people measure success by results. To them, the finished product is the most important objective, and their dominant need is for accomplishment. Others are warm, supportive people. Their dominant need is for relationships.

The appeal that would work well with a results-oriented person might be totally inappropriate for the person interested in relationships. Others value recognition and measure success by the amount of acknowledgement and praise they receive, and some people are more concerned with the content than the congratulations. Their primary need is for regimentation. In other words, things must be put together in neat packages that can be clearly understood. A manager must master the sales appeal for each type of person to be a successful motivator.

When people act and react in social situations, they give clues about their needs and behavioral styles. By observing the way people act in front of other people, a manager can learn to identify these needs. Undirected, the observer sees and tries to catalog thousands of behaviors in one person, quickly making this an exercise in futility.

To make identifying behavioral styles more manageable, a manager should classify behavior based on openness and directness. It is much like finding the right shoe size--the shoe should be wide enough for the widest part and long enough for the longest part, and the rest of the foot will fit someplace in between.

Openness means a person's readiness and willingness to show emotions or feelings and develop interpersonal relationships. Open people commonly are described as relaxed, warm, responsive, informal, and personable. They are relationship oriented. In conversations with others, open individuals share their personal feelings and like to tell stories. They tend to be flexible about time and base their decisions more on intuition and opinion than on hard facts. They are also likely to behave dramatically and give immediate non-verbal feedback in conversation.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are self-contained people. They commonly are seen as formal and proper. They are more guarded and aloof in their interpersonal relationships. These people are more likely to follow the letter of the law and base their decisions on cold, hard facts. Self-contained individuals are usually task oriented and disciplined about time. In contrast to open people, self-contained people frequently hide their feelings in the presence of others.

Directness refers to the amount of control that a person attempts to exercise over situations or other people. Direct people come on strong, take the initiative, and create a powerful first impression. They are fast-paced people, making swift decisions and taking risks. They easily become impatient with others who cannot keep up with their pace. They are active people who do a lot of talking and appear confident and sometimes dominant. Direct people express their opinions readily and make emphatic statements.

Conversely, indirect people give off a quiet, shy, and reserved impression. They are supportive and easy-going. They move slowly, meditating on their decisions and avoiding risks. They frequently ask questions and listen more than they talk. They reserve their opinions and make tentative statements when they must take a stand.

Openness and directness levels vary among individuals, and any person may be high in one, low in the other, or somewhere in between. Everyone has some level of openness and some level of directness.

Figure 1 shows directness and openness on two axes. When combined, the axes form four quadrants that identify different, recognizable, and habitual behavior patterns--socializer, director, thinker, and relater. Each quadrant represents unique combinations of openness and directness and is linked to separate and unique ways of behaving. The name given to each style reflects a general characteristic rather than a full or accurate description.

Socializer. The socializer ranks high in both directness and openness. He or she is animated, intuitive, and lively. The socializer is an idea person--a dreamer--but also can be viewed as manipulative, impetuous, and excitable. The socializer is a fast-paced person, making spontaneous decisions. He or she is not concerned with facts or details and tries to avoid them as much as possible. This disregard for details may force him or her to exaggerate and generalize facts.

The socializer also thrives on involvement with people and usually works quickly and enthusiastically with others. He or she always seems to be chasing dreams and has the uncanny ability to get others caught up in those dreams. The socializer seeks approval and pats on the back and is creative.

Director. The director is direct and self-contained. He or she is firm, goal oriented, and concerned with bottom-line results. Closely allied to these positive traits, however, are the negative ones. The director is stubborn, impatient, tough, and domineering. He or she tends to take control of situations and is decisive. Only comfortable moving at a fast pace, the director is impatient with delays. When other people cannot keep up, he or she views them as incompetent. The director's motto might well be "I want it done right, and I want it done now."

The director is typically an achiever who has good administrative skills. He or she gets tasks done and gets the process going. The director likes to do many tasks at the same time. He or she may start by juggling three tasks, picking up a fourth once he or she is comfortable. The director will keep adding to the work load until the pressure builds to a point where he or she has to let everything drop, then he or she turns right around and starts the whole process over.

Thinker. The thinker is both indirect and self-contained. He or she is concerned with the process of thinking and is a persistent, systematic problem-solver. But the thinker also can be seen as aloof, picky, and critical. The thinker has a strong need to be right, so he or she relies heavily on data collection. In this quest for data the thinker asks many questions about specific details. His or her actions and decisions are extremely cautious. The thinker works alone, slowly, and precisely and prefers an intellectual work environment that is organized and structured. He or she tends to be skeptical and likes to see everything in writing. Although a great problem-solver, the thinker is a poor decision maker. He or she may keep collecting data even beyond a deadline.

Relater. The relater is open, unassertive, warm, supportive, and reliable. However, the relater sometimes is seen by others as compliant, soft-hearted, and acquiescent. The relater seeks security and belonging and, like the thinker, is slow at taking action and making decisions. The relater procrastinates to avoid risky and unknown situations. Before making a decision, the relater has to know how other people feel about it.

The relater is the most people oriented of all four styles. Having close, friendly, personal, first-name relationships with others is one of the most important objectives of the relater's style. The relater dislikes interpersonal conflicts so much that he or she sometimes says what others want to hear. The relater has tremendous counseling skills and is extremely supportive. Because a relater listens so well to other people concerning their conflicts or needs, when it is his or her turn to talk, people usually listen. This gives the relater an excellent ability to gain support from others.

NO BEHAVIORAL STYLE IS BETTER THAN THE OTHERS. EACH HAS its own strengths and weaknesses and successful people as well as failures populate each group. Most people have characteristics of all four groups in varying degrees. On any given day one style may be more dominant than the others, however, most people do have a single dominant behavioral style. Like a theme in a musical composition, behavioral style is a recurring and predictable component, but like variations on a theme, people also possess traits that vary from their dominant style. When a manager is selling ideas to his or her staff, it is important to be aware of these fluctuations.

Behavioral flexibility means to step out of one's comfort zone--one's style preference--to meet another's needs. Each time a manager slows down for a relater or thinker or speeds up for a director or socializer, he or she is showing that flexibility. If the manager is a director or thinker but still takes time to listen to a personal or family story from a relater or socializer, he or she has mastered the art of understanding people. Following are specific guidelines for behavioral flexibility.

Socializer. The socializer likes to interact with other people, so a manager should not hurry this type of individual in a discussion. Instead, he or she should focus the conversation on opinions, ideas, and dreams. If, during the conversation, a disagreement occurs, the manager should try not to argue. No one can win an argument with a socializer because he or she deals in opinions and intuition. Instead of arguing, the manager should explore alternative solutions.

When an agreement is reached with a socializer, the manager should attempt to define the specifics, making absolutely sure that both parties agree. Then the manager should summarize in writing what has been agreed, even if it does not appear necessary. When a manager must deal with socializers, he or she should

* Be stimulating and show interest in them, allowing them time to talk;

* Meet them boldly;

* Study their dreams and goals as well as their other needs;

* Propose solutions with stories or illustrations that relate to them and their goals; and

* Confirm the details in writing clearly and directly.

Director. Anytime a manager has to work with a director, the manager should be precise, efficient, time-disciplined, and well organized, making sure to keep the relationship businesslike. The manager should focus the conversation around the director's goals, keeping in mind that the director is the most goal oriented, achievement oriented, and task oriented of the four behavioral styles.

If the manager and the director disagree, the manager should stick to the facts, leaving personal feelings out of the discussion. The manager should provide the director with options, allowing the director to make his or her own decision. Above all, the manager should get right to the point. When working with directors, the manager should

* Be prepared, organized, fast-paced, and to the point;

* Meet them in a professional and businesslike manner;

* Study their goals and objectives;

* Propose solutions and rewards that relate specifically to their goals; and

* Provide two or three options but let the directors make the decision.

Thinker. When dealing with a thinker, the manager must be systematic, exact, organized, and prepared in order to support the thinker's organized, thoughtful approach. Any contributions the manager can make to the thinker's objectives should be demonstrated through actions rather than words.

Thinkers may request solid, tangible, factual evidence that proves what is discussed is true and accurate. It might be helpful for the manager to list the advantages and disadvantages of any proposals and have viable alternatives ready. If the manager does not bring up the obvious disadvantages, the thinker will find them and assume that the manager is withholding information. That would be detrimental to the relationship.

Also, thinkers cannot be rushed; they need time to verify words and actions. For the best results when dealing with thinkers, the manager should

* Be prepared to answer questions;

* Meet them cordially but get down to business quickly;

* Study their situation in a practical, logical manner;

* Ask many questions that show a clear direction;

* Propose logical solutions to problems and offer documentation; and

* Give them time to think.

Relater. When dealing with a relater, a manager should show interest in the relater as a person. A slow, informal manner works best. If the manager and the relater have a disagreement, the manager should not argue facts and logic, instead the two parties should discuss personal opinions and feelings. If the manager quickly establishes an objective and comes to a fast decision with a relater, the two parties should try to explore potential issues for misunderstanding or dissatisfaction. The relater likes guarantees that new actions will involve minimum risk, so the manager should offer assurance. The relater cannot be rushed but can be guided. Relaters will respond if the manager

* Gets to know them personally;

* Goes slowly, developing trust, friendship, and credibility;

* Studies his or her feelings, emotional needs, and practical needs;

* Does not push or rush;

* Offers personal assurances;

* Is consistent and regular in communications; and

* Nurtures and reassures.

The ultimate reward for practicing flexibility is the trust, rapport, and credibility that it helps build with others. When a manager treats other people inappropriately, it makes them feel uncomfortable and raises tensions. Accepting and understanding the fact that people are different and therefore need to be treated differently is crucial if a manager wants to motivate effectively to meet the organization's goals.

Anthony J. Alessandra, PhD, is a speaker on sales, service, and communications. For more information, contact Alessandra and Associates, PO Box 2767, La Jolla, CA 92038, 800/222-4383.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Managing
Author:Allesandra, Anthony J.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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