Welcome to this issue of "Dr. T's Timely Tips"
by Dr. Tony Alessandra. Please send your
Develping According to Style
Each style of worker needs various types of
direction that will suit their unique
characteristics, and develop them into the most
productive employee they can be.
Indirect and Open
You'll like RELATERS and find them easy to work
with -- everybody does. But your biggest
challenge will be to get them to break out of
their ruts. They loathe change and often cling
to out-dated ways of doing things. DIRECTORS and
SOCIALIZERS sometimes can help them find short
cuts, and even a THINKER may have suggestions,
RELATERS, when in training for a job, favor
slower, hands-on coaching by a warm, patient
human being. While a DIRECTOR or THINKER might
be satisfied with a manual and time to digest
it, the RELATER prefers an instructor who'll
help him or her find comfort with each step.
RELATERS may want to observe others for a
longer-than-average time before trying the task
themselves. Only when their confidence builds,
will they comfortably begin. When you have
occasion to reward RELATERS, do so in a low-key
way because they're often uneasy with public
praise. Stress how much you appreciate their
efforts to make things better for you and
Though they often do have good ideas, RELATERS
may be reluctant to bring them up because they
don't like the limelight. So you might want to
emphasize, "Please let me know what you think of
the proposed new compensation plan. It's a bit
of a change, and we want it to be fully
understood and, hopefully, accepted by
everybody, before we proceed. Your input is
especially important because of all the thought
you give to such things."
In all cases, expect to do more talking than
listening with RELATERS. They'll want you to
carry the conversational ball. Because RELATERS
crave clarity and stability, it's a good idea to
take items, or steps, one at a time. As you
complete each item on an agenda, for example,
you might double-check that the two of you fully
understand: "So you'll handle the Dobson
account, and I'll make the preliminary checks
with the lawyers on the Bernstein case. Is that
Other steps you can take to promote growth in
- Try to help them think for themselves by
modifying their tendency to do what others tell
- Make them feel sincerely appreciated
- When you see positive changes, get them to
accept credit and praise
Direct and Open
SOCIALIZERS bear watching. If given too long a
leash, they may procrastinate, spread themselves
too thin, fail to follow up, or get sloppy with
details. But if you can channel their enthusiasm
with tactful reminders and hands-on help,
SOCIALIZERS will spin out endless ideas and lend
a zest to the office that's priceless.
When coaching SOCIALIZERS, what you'll probably
see is a desire to jump right in before they're
fully prepared. Allow them to get involved. But
remember their penchant for applause. So help
them save face if they do something wrong, and
be sure to heap on the compliments if they
Probably the best single thing you can do for
SOCIALIZERS is help them sort out priorities.
When they find themselves surrounded by
opportunities, they're sometimes paralyzed.
You can lessen their anxiety by stepping in and
lending some structure. "I'll need the Stevenson
report by Monday. If that means putting off the
Shepherd case, that's O.K., as long as I get
that before the 17th. Do you understand?"
SOCIALIZERS are dreamers. They're less motivated
by facts or issues than concepts. Try to support
that trait by carving out time for the two of
you to get to know each other better and toss
around ideas. The SOCIALIZER will have plenty of
them, and your role will be to translate this
talk into action.
Also, if you can do so sincerely, cater to the
SOCIALIZERS' fathomless need for appreciation
and recognition. That can improve their work and
keep their morale at its usual high level.
You can further foster their growth by:
- Ensuring they see tasks through to completion
- Insisting that deadlines be met
- Having them write things down
Indirect and Guarded
THINKERS, the most complex of the four styles,
are often the hardest to get a handle on. But if
you make the effort and do so, you'll have an
employee whose diligence and quality work can
make him or her invaluable.
They want to make rational choices, not decide
something based on hunches or what others say or
think. So when they say, "Give me some time to
think it over," you should.
You'll have to be more on your toes when
speaking to THINKERS than with any other types.
They're likely to ask a lot of questions, and if
they sense you're unprepared, they may lose
respect for you. Avoid exaggeration and
vagueness when you speak to them because they
often dissect remarks to decide if you have
serious ideas worthy of serious consideration.
If you come across as half-cocked, real
communication may grind to a halt.
They're also very sensitive to criticism. So if
you ask questions of them, be oblique and
non-judgmental: "Sam, what are your thoughts
about the deadline on the Thompson matter? Are
there special problems you're encountering that
I should know about?" That's far preferable to
the harsher "Why is the Thompson account so
When coaching THINKERS, it's best to focus on
the most important things first and then proceed
in an efficient, logical manner. Go relatively
slow, stopping at intervals to ask for their
input and for a sense of how well they
That's because they like to do things bit by
bit. So, if possible, let them complete a task
in steps, reporting back to you at each
Other ways to help THINKERS:
- Gently request that they share their knowledge
and expertise with others
- Encourage them to stand up for themselves with
those people they'd prefer to avoid
- Try to get them to make more time for people
and for fun
Direct and Guarded
Your DIRECTORS can be among your greatest assets
if you can give them opportunities and avoid
being threatened by their strong personalities.
Don't get frustrated and write them off if you
can't develop a warm relationship with them;
they're into power and results, not warmth. Let
them do their own thing as much as you can, and
they'll repay you with awesome energy and
When training a DIRECTOR, what you'll probably
hear him or her saying, if you listen well, is,
"Make this short and direct. Just hit the high
points." They aren't going to want to be
bothered with a lot of details. Help them find
short cuts and streamline the routine so he or
she can get results more quickly and
If you were trying to teach them use of a new
computer, for example, you might say: "Here are
the five basic steps needed to get into the
files, make your changes, and then get out
again. You're a quick read, so you'll probably
want to learn the rest on your own. Oh, here's
the manual, in case you get stuck."
On any project, be prepared to listen to
DIRECTORS' suggestions. For instance, they'll
probably want to tell you what they think of the
options and the probable outcomes.
When you suggest a different idea or action, be
sure to point out that you're trying to work in
ways that are acceptable to both of you.
"Charlotte, I understand where you're coming
from when you say you want to finish the Shipley
project by this afternoon. But I know that you,
like me, would rather be right than quick. What
if you had the rough draft into me by, say,
4:30? That'd give me time to look it over and
maybe sleep on it overnight. Then, if we're
still on track, we'll send it out tomorrow. That
way we won't have lost much time and with both
of us having reviewed it, we'll have ensured
that it'll get the results we both want."
So, in short, you've got to be cordial but
strong to deal effectively with DIRECTORS. On
the organizational chart, they may not be your
equals. But in their minds, they're more your
peer than your subordinate.
Shrug that off, if you can, and play to their
strengths: energy, decisiveness, and force of
personality. And try to help them by nudging
- Being more careful and patient before making
decisions or reaching conclusions
- Recognizing the contributions of others and
sharing the glory
- Paying more attention to the feelings of their
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