Welcome to this issue of "Dr. T's Timely Tips" by Dr. Tony Alessandra. Please send your feedback to info@alessandra.com!

Develop the potential of all your employees

If yours is like most offices, you are surrounded by people of all behavioral types in your workplace. So you know how hard it can be to produce an environment in which everyone is cheerful and productive. You have probably already figured out that the way one employee prefers to be treated is radically different from what another employee wants. However, I can assure you that you can please everyone just by keeping his or her basic behavioral styles in mind -- your workplace will be happier and more productive in no time!

RELATERS
Indirect and Open

You will like Relaters and find them easy to work with -- everybody does. However, your biggest challenge will be to get them to break out of their ruts. They loathe change and often cling to outdated ways of doing things.

Relaters, when in training for a job, favor slower, hands-on coaching by a warm, patient human being, who will 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 a Relater, do so in a low-key way, because they are often uneasy with public praise. Stress how much you appreciate their efforts to make things better for you and others.

Though they often do have good ideas, Relaters may be reluctant to bring them up because they do not like the limelight. So you might want to emphasize, "Please let me know what you think of the proposed new compensation plan. It is 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 will want you to carry the conversational ball. Because they crave clarity and stability, it is 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 agreed?"

Other steps you can take to promote growth in RELATERS:

- Try to help them think for themselves by modifying their tendency to do what others tell them.

- Make them feel sincerely appreciated.

- When you see positive changes, get them to accept credit and praise.
SOCIALIZERS
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. However, if you can channel their enthusiasm with tactful reminders and hands-on help, they will spin out endless ideas and lend a zest to the office that is priceless.

When coaching Socializers, what you will probably see is a desire to jump right in before they are 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 succeed.

Probably the best single thing you can do for Socializers is help them sort out priorities. When they find themselves surrounded by opportunities, they are 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 are 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 Socializers 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.
THINKERS
Indirect and Guarded

Thinkers, the most complex of the four styles, are often the hardest to get a handle on. However, if you make the effort and do so, you will have an employee whose diligence and quality work can make him or her invaluable.

Thinkers want to make rational choices, not decide something based on hunches or what others say or think. Therefore, when they say, "Give me some time to think it over," you should.

You will have to be more on your toes when speaking to Thinkers than with any other types. They are likely to ask many questions, and if they sense you are 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 are 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 is far preferable to the harsher "Why is the Thompson account so late?"

When coaching Thinkers, it is best to focus on the most important things first and then proceed in an efficient, logical manner. Go relatively slowly, stopping at intervals to ask for their input and for a sense of how well they are comprehending. That is because they like to do things bit by bit. So, if possible, let them complete a task in steps, reporting to you at each milestone.

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 would prefer to avoid.


- Try to get them to make more time for people and for fun.
DIRECTORS
Direct and Guarded

Directors can be among your greatest assets if you can give them opportunities and avoid being threatened by their strong personalities. Do not get frustrated and write them off if you cannot develop a warm relationship with them; they are into power and results, not warmth. Let them do their own thing as much as you can, and they will repay you with awesome energy and effort.

When training a Directors, what you will probably hear him or her saying -- if you listen well -- is, "Make this short and direct. Just hit the high points." They do not want to be bothered with a lot of details. Help them find shortcuts and streamline the routine so he or she can get results more quickly and efficiently.

If you are 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 are a quick read, so you will 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 will 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 are 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. However, 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 would give me time to look it over and maybe sleep on it overnight. Then, if we are still on track, we will send it out tomorrow. That way we won't have lost much time but with both of us having reviewed it, we'll have ensured that it'll get the results we both want."

So, in short, you have to be cordial but strong to deal effectively with Directors. On the organizational chart, they may not be your equals. However, in their minds, they are more your peer than your subordinate. Shrug that off, if you can, and play to their strengths: energy, decisiveness, and force of personality. In addition, try to help them by nudging them toward:

- Being more careful, more patient before making decisions or reaching conclusions.

- Recognizing the contributions of others and sharing the glory, not keeping it all to themselves.

- Paying more attention to the feelings of their co-workers.

Here's to more personal insight,


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