Sunday, October 21, 2012

Working With Ethel - Passive Personality Style

On the I Love Lucy show, Ethel was the passive personality style.   As people pleasers, Ethel's hate conflict and run from decisions.  Ethel's are procrastinators that often put off until tomorrow, next month, or next year, what should happen today, particularly if a tough decision is involved.   Ethel's can be men or women.   Again, this has nothing to do with intelligence; but rather speaks only to personality style.   As a Ricky, this Blogger CEO can deal with Ricky's, Fred's or Lucy's, in the right jobs; but dominant Ethel's drive me absolutely crazy because of their inability to make decisions; often any decisions. 

Ethel's rarely make it to higher level management jobs in business because of their personality style.   If they do make it into management,  because they are usually really nice people, often very experienced with industry knowledge, they make very weak managers.  By definition, being a manager is all about making decisions and dealing with conflict.  And, it is impossible to be a people pleaser in many management jobs when the only answer that can be given is NO.   Further, since Ricky, likely to be the boss in this picture, can't handle procrastinators,  Ethel's will be pushed aside in favor of more pro-active, determined managers.  It is what is. 

When managing an Ethel, they must be given very specific instructions and deadline dates to get the job done.   This Blogger CEO has had to use the "pain of death" comment with Ethel's to force decision making, or completion of specific projects.   If working for an Ethel, be prepared to be very frustrated because getting decisions out of them rarely happens quickly, if at all.  And, everything takes forever to get anything done.   Are you sensing my impatience with this personality style?  It is real. 

Ethel's are better positioned in lower level jobs with constant supervision.   Ethel's are hard workers, but not always completely effective because they are naturally resistant to change.  Ethel's will get the job done provided they don't need to make decisions, or deal with conflict.   Someone else in management must do that for them.   Ethel's are doers based on specific instruction.   They can be very sloooow because they tend to be plodders, who will not rock boats; but eventually they will achieve the desired end result with some direction and help. 

As should be obvious, this Blogger CEO is not a fan of dominant Ethel's in business.   Ethel's might better be positioned as school teachers, or in other jobs that do not require decision making, or speedy action.   There is a productive place in business for Ethel's; but clearly it must involve the right job.   Life is a series of daily conflicts.   Since Ethel runs from conflict and decision making, finding just the right job for Ethel, whether in business, or someplace else is critical to their success.  

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