Understanding People Can Be Your Best Asset

By Marianne Renner: Leadership Coach, Speaker, Author

I recently conducted a survey among a sample of 65 professionals in my network asking them what their top three challenges were in the workplace. Overwhelmingly, I heard that struggling workplace relationships, or a variation thereof was the largest pain point right after general stress.Various issues relating to workplace relationships accounted for more than a whopping 70% of responses!

Some of the comments I received included, “I can’t get my ideas heard,” “I don’t feel respected,” or “I’m not invited to key meetings.” Leaders struggle to motivate teams under them and have difficulty satisfying demands coming from the top.

So, you ask, “what do these comments have to do with relationships?” Everything!

In a recent conversation with a fellow professional, she expressed to me that her boss seemed less than enthused with just about every idea she proposed. I suggested that her boss’ lack of interest in her ideas perhaps has less to do with the quality of the proposals and more to do with a strained or non-existent relationship between the two of them.

The good news is, you can turn it around. By focusing on relationships, you can get the job you want, earn more money, increase productivity and comp your level of overall job fulfillment. To improve workplace relationships, or any relationship for that matter, just figure out what the other person wants and give it to them. Now, hear me out. Of course, you’re thinking, “so you’re asking me to be passive and lay down like a doormat.” No, not at all. “Then you want me to be manipulative and brown-nosing.” Absolutely not.

What you can do, is to use your powers of observation to identify the other person’s wants and preferences and personality style. I would venture to say that if you were to get really honest, you probably already know.

For example, your boss is a fast-paced, driven person who values bottom-line results.  Do you present a new idea by scheduling an hour-long meeting and sharing a 20-slide PowerPoint? Do you send an email with three attachments detailing the proposal?

No. Of course not. Give your boss the bottom line. Get your idea as succinct as possible. Be direct and straightforward.

On the other hand, you may have a boss who is a stickler for details, thus causing you to feel micromanaged. In this situation, be proactive. Deliver your work with precision and detail, keeping your boss informed of every single step throughout a project.

Although these insights may seem obvious, believe it or not, a lack of understanding personality differences creates great pain both for employees and leaders.

People turn themselves inside out, uproot themselves and leave jobs because of these pain points, only to find themselves in a similar situation in the next job. The problem reoccurs because the issue comes down to differences in personality and behavior styles. And those differences cause a wide degree of variation in how people approach their work.

What feels like micromanaging to one person, is being detail-minded to another.

Chances are that if you are struggling with not feeling appreciated or respected, you are experiencing conflicting behavior styles, without knowledge of how to improve the situation.

It’s important to understand the root cause of why you feel micro-managed, why you can’t seem to motivate your team, why you feel your boss doesn’t listen to your ideas, or why you’re not invited to key meetings.

The most effective way to turn things around is to understand your personality style as well as that of the person with whom you have a conflict. You probably both communicate differently. You have differing views on what is the best way to get the work done. One person makes a decision with precision. The other person investigates and weighs every option.

I once saw a woman who was on the verge of losing her job turn things around simply by acknowledging every good idea that came from her leader, because the leader placed a high value on the concept of encouragement and positive reinforcement.

In another case, I observed a peer dramatically improve a tense workplace environment by keeping her leader informed of her day-to-day schedule and project status. This simple change in behavior came after realizing that was her leader’s preferred way of approaching work.

I offer my coaching clients a behavior analysis to help them understand their particular behavior style as well as the characteristics of other styles. This gives them the insight and ability they need to maximize their strengths, minimize their weaknesses and resolve conflicts more quickly. They are able to communicate with others more effectively.

Once the channels of communication open up, they are able to get what they want. They can get invited to those key meetings. Their ideas get heard. They are feeling more respected in the workplace, business owners see increased profit because their teams are positively motivated and influenced.

If you are interested in learning more about my behavior analysis or receiving an assessment, please contact me here.

Want to capitalize on your strengths and mitigate weaknesses in your interactions with others? Check out my free DISC worksheet to help better understand your personality.

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