Thursday, September 13, 2012

Managing People - The Key To Success

Many people working in business aspire to be promoted into Management to have direct report employees.   Having worked in business for 33 years and managing employees all of that time, this Blogger on the other hand has often said that if I could manage our company with just me, I would do it.  And, why not? I am hard-working, dependable, honest, detail oriented and I work 24/7.  I am the perfect employee and managing myself is a piece of cake.  Of course, my comment is both facetious and impossible; but the point is that as soon as the first employee is added to a company, the complexity in managing that company increases a hundred fold.

Global companies, in particular, must comply with all sorts of federal and state country laws governing employees.   Making payroll is not just about having the money to pay employees, it is about how to actually make payroll in multiple currencies; no easy task.  In addition, every year, companies often face frivolous lawsuits from employees, for one reason or another, usually when it becomes necessary to terminate an employee for cause.   Some of the cases are really funny and even ridiculous.  

We once had a 50 year old woman accuse our firm of discriminating against her because she was "fat and ugly", which is not a cause of action.   That case went away when I explained to her attorney that he was welcome to come to our company and walk the aisles because his client looked just like all the other 50 year old women we had working for us that were neither exceedingly fat, nor ugly; just 50.   Sound ridiculous.  I could give you a hundred more examples. 

As one of our Senior Vice President's often says, People Are Messy".  Yet, we expect great job performance even though employees often come to work with baggage and serious family issues haunting them.   In fact, I am often amazed that some people can do their jobs at all given the issues they may be facing at home.   We test for substance abuse and financial stability as a condition of employment because we can't afford those problems in our workplace; but there are also illnesses, divorce, issues with kids, or aging parents and any number of things that can be an understandable hindrance to great job performance.  Occasionally, there is also work place violence to deal with, which can be pretty frightening.  It is what it is and as Managers, we must deal with our complex workplace as we find it on a daily basis.   When I think I have seen, or heard it all, something else bizarre comes up.   

And then, there is personality style, which is a real determinant of success.   Years ago, we had an organizational psychologist do some training for our company.   She determined that there were really four personality styles in the Myers Briggs test and they boiled down to the I Love Lucy Characters.  Ricky is the authoritarian leadership style.  Lucy is the creative, zany, relationship oriented style.  Fred is the quantitative numbers guy.  And, Ethel is the people pleaser, the compromiser, the person who hates conflict.   There is a 14 question test that we often implement with new hires to determine personality style.  Most people are a mix; but usually there is a dominant style.   

As a Ricky, I can deal with all the styles, except dominant Ethel's because they tend to be procrastinators that cannot make decisions.  As you might imagine, that drives me crazy.   In any case, personality style, as much as intelligence, determine success in a particular job.   The best sales people, Marketing types and Account Managers are Ricky/Lucy's with some Fred for detail orientation.   That be me.  IT and Accounting staff members must be dominant Fred's.  And by the way, Fred's resent being pigeon-holed and told they are Fred's, not sure why.   Every company needs Fred's.   They are particularly lovable and can be very funny with their dry sense of humor. 

The point to all of this is that Managing People is about understanding and reacting to these personality styles.   Once you know that an employee is a particular style, as a Manager, you must be a chameleon to get the best job performance from an employee, regardless of your personal style.  Lucy's are all about relationship.  They are not sequential thinkers.   So work has to be "fun".  With Fred's, it is all about the numbers and sequential order.   Ethel's will run and hide if confronted, so they must be dealt with more gently.  And finally, Ricky's, people like me, need to be told the end of the story first because we have a short attention span and lose patience quickly.   Ricky's also do not suffer fools well.  Ricky's need to see black and white, fast.   We don't deal well with gray. 

Once a Manager figures out this concept, all of a sudden managing people, becomes are allot easier.  Most important, putting the wrong personality style in the wrong job can lead to disaster.  i.e. Lucy should never, never be the Company's Controller.  FYI, these designations also relate to marriage and all inter personal relationships.   Marry an incompatible personality style and divorce is probable, which may be the reason so many marriages end in divorce, further complicating the workplace.   i.e. Two married Ricky's will result in divorce, guaranteed.   

Managing people is the key to success in business.   Success cannot happen any other way.  It is both a Science and an Art.  Managing people is not always fun, particularly when someone must be terminated for cause, or during bad times, when lay-offs may be necessary.   However, as a Manager, it is very fulfilling to watch people succeed and grow in their jobs.  That is certainly the best part of my job as a Company President and CEO. 

No comments:

Post a Comment