Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Working With Fred's - The Quantative Personality Style

On the I Love Lucy Program, the Fred Mertz character was the cheap, numbers guy.  Fred always wanted to know what it was going to cost.  Fred's in all companies can be men or women and represent the quantitative personality style.  Fred's tend to work in Accounting, Finance, Law Departments, Information Technology and the Sciences, jobs that require intense detail orientation.   All companies need Fred's because all companies have functions that require their skill set.  Oddly, Fred's often resent being told they are Fred's because they don't like being pigeoned holed into a personality style; but it is what it is.

In the extreme, Fred's are the nerdy, funny, Scientist characters on the show The Big Bang Theory.   Fred's take most things literally.  Fred's tend to have a very dry sense of humor; but they can be very funny.   Our former retired CFO, a real Fred, used to come to the office on Halloween dressed as Barbara Bush.   To make the point that Cash was King, he often wore a crown to management meetings. All of this is great; but there is another side to the Fred personality that requires some management over sight. 

Fred's are not real sensitive to the needs of other people.  And, it is not because they themselves are not nice people, it is that they sometimes just don't see people in crisis and or, they are uncomfortable with having  personal involvement with the people that work for them.   Fred's are definitely not touchy, feely people.  As a result, those of us that manage Fred's sometimes must help them see the people that work for them; otherwise, Fred's can cause turnover.  Fred's need help with social interaction; which they often view as a waste of time.

Further, Fred's do not understand corporate speak, or inference.   For example if I said to a Fred, "I am concerned that the building is burning down".   A Fred is likely to respond by putting this on his list of things to do, rather than recognize that a burning building must be a higher priority.   Of course, this is an extreme example; but not by much.   Knowing that corporate speak does not work with a Fred,  communications must be much more direct.   So in this instance if the building was burning down, a Fred must be told,  "The building is burning down around you.  Stop everything you are doing, evacuate and call the fire department NOW."   

This tendency has nothing to do with intelligence.   Fred's are probably smarter than most people; but their personality style is very linear.   Fred's think in a straight line.   Anything that gets in the way is not going to have a very high priority in Fred's mind.   In addition, Fred's are generally not risk takers.   Nor are they intuitive, or prone to work off gut reaction.  Fred's must spend hours on a computer proving the end of a story before they will offer a conclusion. 

Fred's are absolutely critical to the success of every company.   Cards talk and numbers don't lie, which Fred's will always rely on to argue their case.   Most of the time,  decisions should be made based on the numbers; but some of the time, as a CEO, who is not a Fred, it is necessary to make decisions based on 5th grade math, instinct and experience.   This drives Fred's crazy.   Oh well, CEO's get to have some fun too; though Fred's rarely see the humor when this happens.     

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