How to Manage Personalities in the Workplace

This is another IML Webinar – this time the presenter is Margo Lockhart and you can access the webinar here. The webinar begins with a quote from Louise Evans, “Stepping into someone else’s shoes and attempting to understand them is a great act of generosity.” This message suffers from several snags . It is not gramatically correct and while you can think you are being generous showing empathy to someone, the more important reason for being empathetic is that you will develop an emotional link by doing so.

The webinar then uses a DISC type model to analyse your own personality style according to two spectra: Task vs. People, Detail vs. Big Picture. Your position is on the two spectra s positions you into one of four quadrants using associated behaviours and colours:

Driver: Analytical, Goal driven, Logical, Direct, Problem Solver (Blue)

Analytical: Disciplined, Structured, Conscientious, Precise, Detailed (Green)

Connector: Sensitive, Nurturing, Cooperative, Thoughtful, Loyal (?)

Expressive: Spontaneous, Intuitive, Imaginative, Risk taker, Optimistic (Yellow)

I must confess I was bemused that Drivers were described as Analytical. I was even more bewildered when the colour for Connectors changed from purple to red. (It should be beige.)

Margot then goes on to correctly point out that each type has strengths and weaknesses. According to her model:

  • Drivers are fast moving, objective, and task focused but might miss detail, be unfeeling and lack connection with people.
  • Analyticals are precise, structured, and make evidence-based decisions but can be seen as inflexible nit pickers who are slow to seize opportunities.
  • Connectors are low key, methodical and supportive of others but are uncomfortable with change, follow others and have little impact.
  • Expressives are both laid back and energetic (???) and full of creative ideas but are sometimes perceived as over-enthusiastic, unrealistic and low in productivity.

In the next section of her talk explained how “diagonals” lead to clashes. Expressives and Analyticals clash; so do Drivers and Connectors. Supposedly the clash can be external between two people or internal because a person may define himself in diagonal quadrants. How this is done I don’t understand because it implies double positioning on the two spectra.

Drivers are autocratic, overbearing, insensitive, impatient, ruthless and dominating. They consider the complying, self-sacrificing, passive, complying, hesitating connectors to be weak pushovers and lack respect for them. The connectors return the animosity in spades with stubborn silence.

Analyticals are slow, overcautious, inflexible and rigid nit-pickers who believe the excitable, emotional, unfocused, highly strung Expressives are loose cannons. Expressives consider Analyticals to be boring and worthless.

Margot then lays out some tips for communicating with each type. I have added some extras.

With Drivers you need to be efficient and direct, focused on outcomes and proposing solutions. However you must let them make decisions. The minor point close (do you want it in pink or blue?) works brilliantly.

Link up with Analyticals by first being on time and then showing a clear direction by being practical, logical and thorough. Have plenty of back up data – charts and graphs work well. Analyticals want to read about the solution in depth. You will really make an emotional connection is if you can give them a prototype to play with.

Relate to Connectors by building trust and being an active listener. Show appreciation and tell them you care. Discuss the impact of any proposed solution on the team and people. Connectors are fearful so make sure you thoroughly cover the risks and do not offer them choices. Just assume your solution is the one they should adopt.

Connect with Expressives by being interested and interesting. Be informal and spontaneous as you allow them to talk about themselves. Concentrate on the big picture and make any solution bold and exciting. They will rarely offer objections and will be enthusiastic during the meeting. However never forget they are like that with everyone and typically buy from the last person they speak to.

Relating these four types to the 7MTF: Drivers are Politicians; Analyticals are Engineers; Connectors are Doublecheckers; and Expressives are Socialisers. Diagonals are not a problem with the 7MTF and I repeat the question I always ask when confronted with a DISC model: Where is the corporate psychopath?

Margot finishes the webinar by suggesting you watch a TED talk by Louise Evans: Own Your Behaviours, Master Your Communication, Determine Your Success. Her anecdote at the beginning of the talk as she sits in five chairs is quite brilliant and well worth watching.

This is my final blog for 2019. May I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

This blog was first published on LinkedIn on 10 December 2019.



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