The seven types of workplace behavior

In any workplace, there are seven classic styles of behavior. These are commander, drifter, attacker, pleaser, performer, avoider and analytical. When at their worst and depending on whether the individual is your subordinate or your boss, each of these styles of behavior make you vulnerable in different ways. This resource kit offers a brief description of each style and provides tips to help you manage your vulnerability to each. Commanders. Demanding and domineering, commanders are the stereotypical control freaks. Bossy and abrupt to the point of rudeness, they're crisp, direct and not terribly tactful. Uncomfortable with, and aggravated by, phrases such as "I feel" or "Let's share," they don't intend offense. It's just that they're otherwise mentally engaged, and the softer side of human interaction isn't a priority for them.

As your boss, the commander makes you vulnerable by not delegating substantive assignments. To get such assignments, you'll need to work to earn the commander's trust. Do this by looking for every opportunity to demonstrate innovative ways that show you're thinking as the commander would (which, of course, is the only right way to think). Focus on control, order and results.

As your subordinate, commanders may exhibit behavior that you interpret as an attempt to take over your job, but which in their view, merely is a demonstration of initiative and drive. If you chastise them for "not knowing their place," they'll go around, over or behind you, or they'll quit. Instead, delegate substantively to your commander subordinate. Articulate the desired result, and then stand aside and let them figure out the "how tos." Value and validate commanders for their ability to overcome obstacles, to implement and to achieve results.

Drifters. Free spirited and easy going, disorganized and impulsive, drifters are virtually antithetical to commanders. They have difficulty with structure of any kind, whether it relates to rules, work hours or deadlines. Their extremely short attention span means they miss details and fail to follow up. Although warm and friendly, their behavior can be a source of extreme exasperation for their workplace colleagues.

As your boss, the drifter makes you vulnerable by not providing any structure. To cope successfully, you'll need to provide your own structure. The bad news is that you'll have to write your own job description, your own performance review, etc. The good news is that they'll sign and approve pretty much anything you write.

As your subordinate, drifters make you vulnerable by causing others to question your managerial effectiveness. To successfully manage a drifter, you have to keep assignments short, provide lots of fun and variety, flexible work schedules, etc. Others may question why you're treating the drifter differently than others. Your response must be that you manage everyone as individuals, while simultaneously ensuring that work products are completed to specifications. Value and validate the drifter for his or her innovation and creativity, an ability to improvise on a moment's notice, and his or her out-of-the-box thinking.

Attackers. Angry and hostile, cynical and grouchy, attackers often are the most demoralizing influence in the workplace. They are highly critical of others in public, using demeaning and condescending tones. With biting sarcasm, their attacks on others are personal in nature, tantamount to verbal abuse. Attackers view themselves as superior to others, continually expressing contempt and disgust for the incompetence and inadequacy of their fellow workers.

As your boss, the attacker makes you vulnerable by pushing you to the point that you lose your composure. To manage this, you'll need to minimize your time with this person, ignore the belittling comments, consistently providing android-like responses. If you cannot bring yourself to do this, you need to report to someone else because going toe-to-toe with an attacker, unless you are made of very strong stuff, isn't advisable.

As your subordinate, attackers decimate the morale of the rest of your staff. To leverage this vulnerability, reassign work to minimize others' interaction with the attacker, counsel others on how to cope successfully with attacker behavior and evaluate the cost/benefit of keeping the attacker on board.

Value and validate the attacker for his or her ability to take on the ugly, unpopular assignments no one else has the mettle to do and for the ability to make unemotional decisions.

Pleasers. Thoughtful, pleasant and helpful, pleasers are easy to get along with on a personal level. They view their work associates as extended family members and have a high need for socialization at work. Unable to say "no" to the requests of others, pleasers can't handle conflict, developing instant migraines or stomach problems to escape having to deal with it. As your boss, pleasers won't give you the critical feedback you need to grow and develop. It's useless to attempt to persuade pleasers to criticize you; so you'll need to get such feedback from other relevant internal colleagues.

As your subordinate, pleasers make you vulnerable by subordinating what's best for the company to the maintenance of relationships. If keeping you informed would get someone else in trouble, they'll feign ignorance to protect the other person. To manage this, you'll continually need to stress the concept of the "greater good." They also commit acts of devotion that tend to hold you hostage when it's time for you to give critical feedback. Manage this by using the "sandwich technique" with your pleaser. Sandwich the criticism between two affirming statements. Value and validate pleasers for the way they humanize the workplace and for their helpful, collaborative work style.

Performers. Flamboyant and loud, jovial and entertaining, performers are often the most favorite personality in the workplace. Their wit and mental quickness makes us laugh. They charm and delight others with ambassadorial sophistication. They're the first to volunteer in public venues, and the last to accept responsibility. Performers are self-promoting hustlers who use others as stepping stones on their path to the limelight. They create a false impression of their productivity by claiming ownership of high-profile projects and try to inflate their status by always seeming to be in a hurry to get to something important. In fact, the reason performers are in such a hurry is they've been so busy promoting themselves that their workload has backed up!

As your boss, the performer won't remember, much less acknowledge your contributions to work outcomes. He or she also will try mightily to avoid accountability for any negative outcome by blaming you. You'll need to document every instruction and keep a record of your achievements.

As your subordinate, performers make you vulnerable by distorting the truth to make themselves look good. Don't take action on anything the performer tells you until you have verified the facts. Link incentives to improved teamsmanship. Value and validate your performer for his or her ability to establish new relationships and for persuasive and public-speaking skills.

Avoiders. Quiet and reserved, avoiders are the wallflowers of the world. They create warm, cozy nest-like environments and prefer to work alone. If forced to work on a team or committee, they speak only to validate what others have said. Any type of criticism makes them feel threatened and insecure. They fear taking initiative and shun increased responsibility because of the attendant visibility and accountability. They'll do precisely what they're told; no more, it's true, but no less either. Avoiders will sacrifice money, position, growth and new opportunities for the safety of status quo.

As your boss, the avoider makes you vulnerable by not taking on any new or high-profile projects through which you could distinguish yourself. Manage this by seeking opportunities to become a member of selected teams within the organization, or by volunteering to take on special assignments for others.

As your subordinate, avoiders make you vulnerable by not taking any initiative whatsoever. This can be so frustrating as to make you lose your temper. Doing so, however, is disabling and unproductive for your avoider. Instead, understand that you'll always need to provide detailed instructions, and don't expect to be successful in pushing a fear-based individual toward increased responsibility. Value and validate your avoider for his or her reliability, for meticulous attention to your instructions and for getting the job done right the first time, every time.

Analyticals. Cautious, precise and diligent, analyticals are the personification of procrastination, checking everything thrice. They even proofread photocopies. It is this near obsession with detail that incapacitates analyticals in times of urgency. No matter what new idea anyone has, analyticals have scores of reasons why it won't work and shouldn't be done. They're socially awkward and prefer to distance themselves from people.

As your boss, analyticals make you vulnerable by not letting you out from under the microscope. You'll need to earn your way to increased independence by making sure the work you submit is error-free.

As your subordinate, analyticals make you vulnerable by overwhelming you with information. Manage this by highlighting selected sections of the data, asking meaningful questions and expressing appreciation that you can rely on him/her for fluency with the entire document. Value and validate your analytical for his commitment to accuracy and for the ability to anticipate and evaluate risk far enough in advance to allow risks to be reduced.

Of course, these descriptions are general and stereotypical. Some of your associates might seem to fit a particular profile exactly, while others may reflect a combination of several styles. There is no cookie-cutter approach to dealing with human behavior; but these tips should help you customize your interactions to optimize workplace results.

 

 

Source PIACT/ By Francie Dalton

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