Who’s in the room today
As a manager, it’s critical you can manage a range of personalities at any one time and possibly even all at the same time. Add to this, the fact that sometimes peoples personalities can change from day to day based on a whole range of stimuli. So who’s in the room with you right now? Do you know? Are you managing your own behaviour to ensure you get the most out of your interaction with each person? Are you conscious of the impact each person is having on others and the group dynamic as a whole. Too late when the meeting is over and you realise that Arthur never uttered a word for the whole hour, or Mary never drew breath.
A smart manager has a plan. Try assigning the personalities below to your team and then planning how you will proactively manage them in your interactions. It is so much more effective and efficient than relying completely on your reactive self, which as we all know, so often falls way short of the mark.
In one corner
There are those people who are particularly positive people who can smile their way through a perfect storm.
Tip: These people are really helpful in driving an agenda. Enlist their support. These people are motivated by a good pat on the back. A dose of recognition is just the elixir for continued action and commitment.
There are those people who are always positive but really battle with entering the fray and giving feedback, debating etc.
Tip: They are there willing and able, but you may need to encourage them with a nudge, to give them the momentum they need to really contribute. Watch out for the moment you know they have something to add and throw to them.
These people are great mediators and can negotiate a ceasefire. They are natural facilitators with a passion for collaborative outcomes.
Tip: You’d do well to enlist their support with managing the challenging personalities in a positive and constructive way.
And in the other corner
These people need to fill every pause in the conversation with their words of wisdom. Often they really know their stuff, but they find it difficult to stay on topic.
Tip: They need strong facilitation. Engage a peacemaker to keep the chatterbox in check. Failing that, have a quiet word to them outside of the meeting and enlist their support to help draw out the wisdom from the quieter or less engaged portion of the group – They’ll love the fact you need them. Sometimes, just sometimes, this is characteristic of an extrovert. For further reading see below.
These people are far more comfortable sitting in silence during a meeting and may in fact be nervous about speaking up and engaging in the conversation. This has no bearing at all on their potential and so rather than leave them an untapped resource you should manage them.
Tip: Of course you can engage them directly with questions and seeking their opinions, however, What you must do, is provide them with notice rather than putting them on the spot. Allow them time to prepare. You may ask them to lead an agenda item so they know they are going to be actively involved. For further reading, here are two of my posts on managing introverts (see below).
The Know it all
There is little you can tell these people about anything. Well, at least that’s what they think. Anything you can do, they can do better, and they’ll suggest they probably have.
Tip: This will take all of your power not to react negatively. You need to lead with calm interventions thanking for contributions, reminding of the challenges of time and the need to return to the key point.
Further Reading on this topic on this blog.