Managing people in the modern globalized workplace is like herding cats. Managers need to effectively relate to people’s unique personal styles and to different cultural, educational and generational backgrounds. That’s easier said than done. But what if there were a tool helping managers better understand the individual personal styles of their team members?
TIPS, the innovation people profiling method I’ve created for Thinkergy, allows executives to more effectively manage their various team members by recognizing their unique styles. Today, let’s understand how people differ in their style to think, work, interact and live their lives, and how you can get the best out of them by acknowledging these personal styles differences.
Thinking style: Figure vs. Fantasy
People who are all about Figure are left-brain-directed, analytical thinkers who like working with numbers, statistics and spreadsheets. They think sequentially, step-by-step following in scientific style.
How to manage Figure thinkers? Appeal to and make good use of their analytical mind. Assign them quantitative roles and projects. Know that they document and file records of everything they do and that happens (including your HR discussions, so do create a record of important conversations, too).
In contrast, Fantasy thinkers are right brain-directed, indicating they enjoy creativity, ideas, indulging in fantasies and envisioning a compelling future. They follow a more “radiant” thinking style and may jump back and forth while working on an issue.
How to manage Fantasy thinkers in line with their cognitive preferences? Stimulate and harness their creativity in qualitative roles and projects requiring ideas and imagination. Ask for their ideas whenever appropriate, and co-create solutions together with them (including their personal issues, such as career paths). But ensure they keep files, as they don’t enjoy shuffling paper.
Work style: Brain vs. Brawn
Brain workers are strategic, big picture thinkers who prefer working on abstract, conceptual projects. They focus on achieving ambitious, meaningful goals and have a medium- to long-term time horizon. “Brainiacs”are excellent creators and thinkers preferring to work with their heads in the clouds; they dislike having to “sweat the small stuff” associated with most managerial roles. They work in leap and bounds, alternating periods of intense cognitive work with relaxation and recreation.
How to get the best work out of them in line with their preferred work style? “Brainiacs” are motivated by challenging projects. Agree on goals you want them to achieve in the medium term. Then trust they will figure out how to achieve them and contact you if they need help. Don’t micro-manage them.
Brawn workers on the other hand are practical operational doers who prefer concrete, tangible tasks. They move forward task by task and get satisfaction from ticking on the boxes of their daily To-do list. They focus on getting the task at hand done well rather than working on gloomy goals.
How to get “Brawniacs” work at their best? Because they focus more on achievement of short-term goals, they prefer short-term control loops where you give them feedback on how they’re doing. Hence, they don’t mind being micro-managed (and practice it themselves on subordinates if they’re the boss).
Interaction style: Fact vs. Feeling
Fact interactors are all about evidence-based communication and decision-making. They make their case based on data and hard facts, and can be very blunt and argumentative. They have low tolerance for nonsense as they care first and foremost about truth and intellectual honesty.
How to best interact with these factual people? Do your homework and look up the facts involved in a project, task or case. Build up your arguments based on the evidence at hand to gain respect — and to avoid the embarrassment of being put on the spot if your argument isn’t sound.
On the other hand, dealing with Feeling interactors is a piece of cake. They are friendly, caring and empathic. They consider other people’s feelings and points of view, including yours. They are very good at observing emotional cues that reveal others’ true thoughts and feelings. They prefer making decisions in a team or using their gut.
How to manage them? “Feelers” care for appreciation, understanding and emotional bonding. Practice an interpersonal management style here. Show sincere concerns for their work and life challenges. Listen to their empathic perspectives. Involve them in decisions whenever possible to reach a consensus or at least seek their understanding and agreement.
Lifestyle: Form vs. Flow
Form people relish the status quo. They prefer living in a stable world where traditions and rituals are honored and everything has its formal order. They are dependable, punctual, and set. As they enjoy optimizing projects and realizing efficiencies, they dislike others rocking the boat and fixing things that ain’t broken.
How to best manage them in harmony with their lifestyle preference? Show them you appreciate their high reliability and commitment to your organization and welcome their contributions. If your company goes through a transformation, know that form-oriented people tend to resist change, so help them adjust.
In contrast, Flow people go with the flow of life. They are flexible, agile and progressive. They love variety, progress and change. In fact, they drive change and create the truly new — the bigger and bolder the better. They relish taking a bold risk they consider worthwhile. They express their individuality and own opinions, and are less concerned with punctuality and etiquette.
How to manage Flow people? Give them freedom to roam in space and time. Don’t lock them into a cubicle-prison. Tolerate their quirks and informal ways, knowing that geniuses are highly individualized. Offer them a chance to dedicate some of their work time to innovative projects that interest them — and also help your firm. They may thank you by coming up with the Next Big Thing.
Conclusion: TIPS distinguishes eleven innovator profiles that differ from each other in their preferred personal styles to think, work, interact, live and innovate: The Theorist, Ideator, Partner, Systematizer, Conceptualizer, Promoter, Organizer, Technocrat, Coach, Experimenter and All-Rounder. Each of these personas requires a different management approach based on their unique styles. When would now be a great moment for you to shift from a “one-size-fits-all” management style to a TIPS-informed personalized management approach?
© Dr. Detlef Reis 2016. This article was published in parallel in the Bangkok Post under the same title on 7 July 2016.