Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Managing Performance, Not Personalities

Yesterday, I conducted a training with participants from multiple companies. The training was the first part of a series of Leadership Academy classes. During the early part of the class, one of the participants expressed her confusion. The instruction was contradicting the directives her company's HR department had issued to all managers.

She went on to say, she'd just been instructed by HR to only evaluate people based on performance. All supervisors and managers had been told they should no longer deal with people on a personal level or try to build relationships. Supervisor and managers were to only speak with employees about their performance and keep conversations strictly about business. Individual differences were not to be considered and should not be part of the evaluation process.

Since this portion of the class was titled, Communicating With Employees, there was obviously some conflict between effective communications techniques and the instruction HR was giving. How do you effectively communicate with someone without taking the time to learn:
  • Who they are
  • What's important to them
  • Their personal style

How can you motivate someone if you don't know:

  • What their goals are
  • Their work style
  • What they value

This information can only be obtained through conversation, relationship building and over time. Building a better understanding of the individual and utilizing that information to support them is how supervisor and managers help others reach higher levels of performance.

Look at those who are considered to be the most successful leaders. They have been successful because of their ability to:

  • Bring out the best in people
  • Manage personalities to effectively meet departmental, organizational and personal goals

The only way to discover people's best is to learn who the individual truly is. You discover:

  • What strengths do they bring?
  • What are their goals / aspirations?
  • How can their strenghts, skills and experiences best benefit both the organization, the department and the individual?

We bring all of who we are to our work. Those who manage must learn that the most challenging part of the job is the people piece. Learning to manage different personalities, styles and levels of understanding will provide the most frustration, reward and personal growth. If managers are not allowed to learn who we are and use that information to benefit both the organization and the individual, everyone will miss valuable learning and growth opportunities. If we strip away opportunities to develop a deeper understanding of the individual, we might as well have an office filled with robots.

How successful would any organization be if it were staffed with emotionless, computer programmed robots? Have you called tech support lately, and spoken with an off-shore representative who's trying to hide their accent, has changed their name to an American sounding name, obviously doesn't have a clue what your issue is or how to assist you and continues to provide scripted responses? How frustrating has that experience been? That's how successful an office would be, if it were devoid of personalities.

What do you think? Should personalities come into play? Is it possible to effectively manage without taking personalities into consideration?

Kennette Reed