Last week in a project team meeting, one member spoke up in an annoyed tone and said, “Okay, okay, haven’t we talked about this enough? Let’s move on.” Was that desire to move on based on the topic having been fully explored, or just the personality preference of someone who became impatient very quickly? In other words, when is personality preference trumping good process in the workplace?
Let’s look at the four typical personality styles in the workplace and how they manifest themselves in behavior. We’ve already mentioned the first type above – the Get-‘er-done Type who is results-oriented and focuses a lot on time. The question is always, “How long will this take?” as if something that takes a long time is inherently bad. Their desire is to win and cross the finish line first. In the workplace the Get-‘er-done likes to take control and run the show. When the process is slow, cumbersome or just difficult, this type will get angry, sarcastic and take over with a know-it-all attitude.
The second preference (by the way, we have a bit of all four types in us with two of them being more preferred than the others) is the Get-it-right Type. This individual checks to see that a logical, thoughtful process was followed and that all the answers are correct. When things don’t seem clear or right, they procrastinate. As they slow down to do all this checking and data gathering, the Get-‘er-done begins to lose it, trying to push the Get-it-right to make a decision. Get-it-right types and Get-‘er-done types are both focused on task completion, and while they can drive each other nuts, they also appreciate that someone else is focused on moving things forward.
The third preference is the Get-Along Type, an individual who focuses on values and principles and the effect of change on people. They want to know that relationships will be preserved and protected. When Get-‘er-done types start to push and dominate discussion, the Get-Along will fold – preferring not to have an opinion rather than sparking a disagreement or conflict. The Get-Along will often see a people problem in an organizational decision and decide not to speak up if the environment is not warm and friendly.
Our fourth preference is the Get-Recognized Type, often very bright and ingenious, but frustrating because of his/her need for attention from others. Get Recognized has a tendency to exaggerate molehills into big problems and will speak with great passion about how things need to change. On occasion they detail the downside of an idea, just to hear themselves speak. Both Get-Alongs and Get-Recognizeds focus on people, even though Get-Recognizeds can be very embarrassing to the Get-Along who wants to fly under the radar.
When is personality preference trumping good process in the workplace?
Every workplace has people representing all four styles. When thwarted, each style will go to a dark, difficult place (albeit different) and try to get their needs met. The issue for any group or team is to discern when a request or proposed decision is based on sound thinking and when it’s just the style talking.
Just for fun, share this blog with your group and ask people to identify their top style preferences. Then, more importantly, discuss how the mix of preferences plays out in your planning, problem solving and decision making. It’s there alright; we just don’t always talk about it.
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