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  • Writer's pictureMark Olivito

People: They Should Come With A User’s Manual

One thing that is universally true of human beings: They are all different. DRASTICALLY different. And unfortunately, they don’t come with a user’s guide like your old Commodore 64!

Whether you work in a high growth start-up or a mature Fortune 500, you have probably encountered “all kinds.” Some that come immediately to mind….

  • The Charismatic Charmer. Extroverted, energy comes from people. Alone time drains them.

  • The Introverted “heads down” type. People drain them, alone time energizes them.

  • The Cheerleader – Always looks for a moment to celebrate.

  • The Uber-Competitive- Everything is a race or competition.

  • The “Type A” – Time is the #1 currency

  • The Debby Downer – The Glass is always half-empty

  • The Sandlot bully – Intimidation and fear rule the day.

  • The Information Hoarder – There way is the right/only way. Because you can’t figure their way out!

  • The Ultra-Sensitive – They never met a piece of feedback they didn’t take personally

  • The Politician – They believe TRUST is a 4 letter word, and contingent upon their own needs.

Those are just top of mind. Many people can’t be easily “placed” in one type or another and they shift from role to role. But all studies show that people have a prevailing tendency and they are “hard-wired” to behave in predictable ways when in stress.

The challenge? To understand how people are hard-wired, with REAL data and facts. How?
Take a personality assessment.

Have your team take the same one. Share the results. Put the results on the front door of your office. Understand how one person’s profile can cause built-in conflict for someone on your team who may be opposite of someone else’s.

There are many assessments on the market. Two that I have used:

1) Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®). It’s a common, generally accepted tool.

2) Tri-Metrix DISC profile.

I have used the DISC profile with 2 different companies, and over 25 people. It is my tool of choice for understanding the real facts behind a person’s hard-wiring. After a 15-40 minute on-line survey (depending on type of assessment used), you will get a computer generated profile with 25-75 pages of data and descriptions of how you see the world, what your hot buttons are, keys to working with you (or not), time wasters, and motivating factors.

A few things to keep in mind when choosing an assessment:

  1. If a human needs to “score, think, interpret and communicate” the results, be CAREFUL. There should be no reason why data can’t be automated, benchmarked and put into consistent prose for each person. If human scoring is involved, there exists error and bias, 2 interpretations for the same data scores!

  2. You’re not running a psychology practice, your running a business. The data can get technical; you want application, so value simplicity in reports. Get a sample of the output for each assessment under consideration

  3. Costs – They vary greatly from tool to tool, sometimes driven by the amount of human intervention. Said another way, if a computer can’t score and kick out the report, it may very well be more costly. So this is could be a case where automation not only lowers costs, it improves accuracy.

  4. Consider a professional to “Bring it all together.” It takes time to absorb what the tools are saying, and the implication to effective communication. It takes even more skill to relate multiple profiles into one cohesive learning session. Pros are invaluable in this regard, so if you can afford an expert, it could be dollars well spent.

User manuals are Old School, and they work.

Don’t delay getting a manual on the most complicated (and important) of all products….PEOPLE!

Update 9/21/13: Similar article from the Build Network, interesting take

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