Knowing Your People

The first post in the mini-series: New to Management.. As a new manager, you are now tasked with getting results through people. Do you know those folks? Do you really know those folks? Hey, do you know yourself? One of the most difficult tasks that you as a new manager are now faced with is getting to truly know your people. Think about this for a minute.. You have your tasks that you must do, you have to learn how to be a good manager and now you have a team of people that you must facilitate their work. Getting your tasks done – you completely control the outcome. Getting tasks done through your people, you just don’t control everything. Do you know what makes them tick, what makes them motivated and so on. There is one fact – Your people are not the same as you! You should know that, but I would bet the first steps you take is to relate to yourself. I know I did it. I know of many others that have too. Be warned..

The good thing is there are many tools to help you with getting to know your people. Depending on your particular company that you work for – there probably are a list of resources for you. Don’t hesitate to use those. I have used a number of different items over the years with some success (which are listed below). Success to me is measured in did I learn something new that I could apply later.

  • Keirsey.com has a temperament sorter that helps understand personality types.  There are four main Keirsey personality types. Of course, there are many more flavors of each category – because each person is unique. There is much more on the subject at the website. I use this to help me from a high level – when the challenges are great, people usually have their way of handling stuff. This helps me understand my people better.
  • DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness). Again a four quadrant model based on behaviors of the individuals. There is lots of information about DISC on the website. This helps me again focus on how people work.  When you have a dominance personality type (control, power and assertiveness) and Steadiness (patience, persistence and thoughtfulness) – how would you use those two to accomplish tasks or work together? Set up for success at the beginning…
  • Formal and informal communications. I have regular one on one’s with my people that we use to discuss work, non-work and just getting to know each other. Also, I use every opportunity to work around the work area to listen to the hallway conversations and have informal discussion with my people. It is part of my personality to get to know people better. So, for me this is easy to do. We have some very good discussions that I can use to help  me later when I am assigning work, working with my people for career development and just know what is going on.

There probably are more ways to get to know you people. I bet there probably will be an app for that someday. We have tons of stuff on the internet already. Many of the tools are inventories that help to categorize folks.. Don’t classify. Just use them to help you get work done through your people. There is no perfect answer – no perfect tool, but we have to start somewhere.  Once you add your knowledge learned from the formal and informal conversations, you should have a pretty good idea of your people.

My tip with any tool.. Take the survey or class yourself. See how this applies to you. Assess how this could help you with your folks. If good – maybe a good teambuilding activity would be to go through this with your complete team. Gives a very solid foundation of the team to learn about each other.

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