Human capital is your greatest asset. Period. Then why would we ever “promote someone to the highest level of incompetence?” Take brilliant sellers and give them teams to develop—when they are good at selling and not good at leading teams? How often are we putting the people on the right bus but in the wrong seats?
It’s not necessarily wrong to keep employees in their roles if they are effective, like what they are doing and it’s a good fit. Yet sometimes people feel pressured to move forward when they are happy. Then how often do we take a happy employee and ultimately make them unhappy in their new role? They can’t go back in time to less authority, compensation or responsibility so they take the company’s training and investment on to another employer.
What if we could take some of the emotion out of it? Instead, take a rational look at how a person best works, what motivates them, how they see the world/work/themselves and look at their skills. Finding a comprehensive assessment like TriMetrix HD details the how of behavior, why of motivation, view of the world in acumen and skill competencies. You can use many different assessments to get pieces of the puzzle. Yet with the money, time and energy you invest in your team, a bit more information, digging deeper improves your bottom line.
In the past week I spoke with two different candidates who didn’t get the job. Both were impressed with the candor of the hiring managers. The higher managers took the time and responsibility to explain the job was the “wrong seat” for them. They liked the people, loved their skills/experience and knew they belonged on the bus. Yet, the employers were not going to put them in the wrong seat because no one wins. Now, those candidates need to continue to work the relationship, invest their time and be patient as they wait for a seat to become available.
If you aren’t clear on why you are a good fit for the job or the organization, why should the organization be clear for you? You both have “skin in the game.” Find a way to create a win, win. Understand your behavior, motivation, skills and find the right seat on the right bus.
It’s not fair to say all Midwestern folks are “thrifty” or that you can’t be from elsewhere and enjoy thrift, but there are plenty of reasons why it’s attributed to us. When I look at the “why” of my motivation there is a utilitarian or economic factor. I’m high utilitarian and its shows up in lots of way—other than just money.
Utilitarian motivated people can be described as:
- Having an interest in useful & practical goals
- Enjoy rewards based on results
- Goal driven
Often the above are linked to making more money, high salaries, and financial rewards.
Their value to the organization is affixed to their impact on the bottom line. We like to ask “does this make sense? Help us meet goals? Make us better?” And if there is a “no” to any of the three—then why proceed? Yet, I’m not driven by money. I want to live comfortably. But I don’t think about money, read about or barely pay attention to it. When I think about ROI—I focus on time and resources.
I was at a conference last week and a woman was headed to the airport at the end and invited others to join her. That’s utilitarian too. My inner Midwestern was excited for a free ride but more satisfied that there were now 4 people sharing a ride—thus making the most of all our resources and time. We continued networking, debriefed the meeting and checked some email.
And then there is my compost pile. This makes me both very San Franciscan and Midwestern. It amazes me that I can take every little kitchen scrap, leaves, paper bags and throw it into a heap. Then the worms come in and do their magic. Months and weeks later I take that rich beautiful compost, combine it with my tired soil and grow a garden. That’s utilitarian. I save money—but I make the most of resources. I send less to the landfill and the waste serves another purpose. That’s a return on my time and energy.
I recently ended a ten year engagement with a client. I had many of their books and print materials—most of it out of date, with old logos and not in the best condition. They asked me to return everything. Of course this is fair, made sense, those are their materials. Yet, the shipping costs, effort to pack the big boxes, schlepping it all to the UPS store frustrated me. There was no value in the action. I knew when they received the boxes, looked at what was in there, most of the supplies would be tossed and no ROI on any of our actions. I didn’t want to waste my time on actions that weren’t going to benefit anyone.
There’s much more to utilitarian/economic motivator than simply money. When you are encountered with employees with this key motivator, cast a broader net. Think about the investment of their time as a key resource. It’s not their money that’s being spent—it’s their time and energy. They want to spend that time to make the best use of resources and to make money for themselves and the company.
Picture it, 1979, a small brown eyed, brown haired girl in an even smaller town realizes what it would take to make her happy, change her life and realize her every fantasy, one thing, one Christmas—it was all about the Barbie Dream House.
I was focused like never before. I had never wanted anything like I wanted the Barbie Dream House. My commitment to all things Barbie was approaching the near climax. I had about 13 dolls, the camper, the swimming pool, two cars, furniture, store bought clothes and hand sewn clothes. But, alas, all my Barbies and their one very busy Ken were homeless. Ken struggled throughout his tenure—many car accidents, sudden heart attacks and very long business trips. Ken had more lives than a cat because he kept getting reincarnated as the “new man” in town so all the Barbies could get dressed up, go on dates and have lavish weddings.
Anytime someone asked, “So, Julie, what do you want…” and before they finished, with unshakable confidence “Barbie Dream House.” Some people foolishly followed up, “what else do you want?” since they knew they were not going to by me a $100 gift. “Nothing. Barbie Dream House.” Every time we went to see Santa—it was “Barbie Dream House” to the mall Santa and “Barbie Dream House” to the Santa at the Lion’s Christmas Party at the Town Hall. When I wrote my letter to Santa—my messaging stayed very consistent. One gift Santa, three words—Barbie Dream House.
Such passion, focus, one thing, one message—and my parents—delivered. It was no easy task either. The Barbie Dream House was one of those ‘it” gifts that year. Many, many little girls hoped and dreamed. My father not much of a planner, waited a bit too long to make this essential purchase for his daughter’s happiness. Alas, there was no Barbie Dream House to be found in Quincy, Illinois the town only 30 minutes away. They drove to St. Louis—three hours away to make my dream come true. They even called before—not my father’s style but they were running out of options. This was an expensive gift for my parents. It was the sum total of what all my Christmas presents were supposed to cost if not more. And I probably needed some clothes too! They wanted to make me happy, and quite frankly, they might have been a bit afraid of my reaction on Christmas Day without it (see reaction to Fisher Price Hospital).
When was the last time you wanted something like you wanted nothing else. You were absolutely inspired to make it happen. You used everything you knew, worked your network, did your homework to make sure you got it. And you asked! You asked with confidence. You made it perfectly clear why someone should listen to you unequivocally. Why someone should buy from you. Why you were the right person/company/choice for their unique need. If you don’t really want it—maybe you aren’t the right fit—and that’s okay too. Yet, when you are, show up, ask the questions, do the work, make it happen and get what you want.
In my opening, as an introvert, I exceeded my weekly allowance of exclamation points. It bugs me when people say introverts don’t like people or extroverts can’t be alone. Untrue. I liken it to a laptop.
- When alone, we are plugged in, gaining energy
- When with people, we are unplugged, spending energy. The battery flashes red, countdown begins and then we need to plug in.
- When with people, they are plugged in, gaining energy from the other people.
- When alone, spending energy, unplugged. Too much time alone, they feel tired, bored and need to be with people again.
Everyone likes people, everyone likes to spend time alone. We are humans and very adaptable. My friends know my first yawn is the warning sign, “low energy, low energy.” After the second yawn, I’ll start winding down, ending the evening. By the third yawn, I’m saying good bye. On the flip side, after a long day in the office by myself, talking to no one, no conference calls–I’m ready to talk to someone, go outside and can act like a little puppy begging to be played with. My extrovert friends function in the realm of “let’s go get coffee, then we’ll run some errands, grab a quick bite and then see a movie.” After they go home, they relax, chill out and eventually, get lonely and need to interact again.
As for sellers, if the job required all outside selling, a need to be hungry to meet new people, quick sales, quick turn arounds, lots of travel—one could suggest an extrovert would be a better fit for the job.
Yet, if the job were inside sales, required thorough penetration of accounts, checking lists, working through every contact in the organization and maximizing the individual client for the highest return—I might go with an introvert for that position.
Know your strengths, know yourself, adapt when you need to.
There are teams and committees you love being on. In meetings, things get done, you meet your goals and deliver a good outcome. And there are the painful ones you dread. Meetings run late, no accountability and you keep talking about the same things without any tangible action. Good teams need both—one foot on the gas and one foot on the brakes.
If I had my way I would never drive a car again, so I probably shouldn’t use a driving analogy. (Outside of baseball, I don’t use many sports analogies either!) The foot on the gas represents—direct communicators, confident decision makers, seeing the big picture and taking risk. The foot on the brakes represents—asking questions, getting everyone involved, reluctant decision makers, indirect communication and research. Teams need both—teams need balanced behavior.
In applying behavior research and assessments, you can easily determine 4 behavioral styles. I use DISC in my consulting because it’s easy for anyone to understand by answering two questions about a person—introvert or extrovert and preference for people or tasks. Because it’s easy for people to understand they can walk away from a training or coaching session and truly apply the skills rather than filing some books or papers in a drawer or trash can. If you know your team, you can figure this out quickly. If you don’t, a behavior assessment will give you the answers in 30 minutes or less. A well balanced team is going to use both the brakes and the gas to achieve results.
If you don’t have the team members with the different styles for your project or initiative—that’s okay too. In that case, you’ll need to adapt your approach in managing the group or assign some specific tasks and deadlines to ensure that component is fulfilled and balance out the group for the behavior that is missing.
I have one hero, one role model. My grandmother, Myra Elitia Whitford Bennett.
Her short list of accomplishments…
- Waiting until 30 to have her first child
- Graduating from the University of Illinois, college of business in the 1930’s. One of two women in her college class.
- Taking a job in finance after college
- Taking two years off from school to care for her ailing father. She went back and finished.
- After spending years raising her two sons, she went back to work during the Vietnam War because the small town needed a position filled, with no men available she was the best choice.
- Managed the money, all the money for her house and ours.
- Baked a mean crust less pumpkin pie because I wouldn’t eat the crusts
- Volunteered countless hours for many organizations
- Had an amazing vegetable garden and flowerbeds filled with roses
- She never said “no” when our parents did. She’d offer help in any area, play any game, counsel us or be quiet and listen without judgment with a twinkle in her eye, coy smile and knowing glance.
My grandmother was always my biggest fan. When I wanted to go to college out of state—she didn’t question “why” even when she secretly hoped I would attend the U of I. When I wanted to move to the 3rd largest city in the nation (I grew up outside of a town of less than 500 people), she got excited for me. My parents did not.
Then there was California. My mom didn’t want me to go. My sister, pregnant with her first child, was a “no” too. She wanted me around and to play a part in the new baby’s life. Yet, it was my grandmother who I was concerned about. I knew these were her last years and I was scared to miss this time with her. She told me, without hesitation, to go. And then she called a spade a spade—“don’t wait for me to die to do what you want.” She did want she wanted and helped me to always do the same.
She had it all before women thought about having it all. And she did with class, style and grace. This Thanksgiving I give thanks for her, the person I am and the role she still plays in my life.
Len Goodman on Dancing With the Stars coaches the dancers with “you either grow or go.” That seems to be the reason people (millions of them!) tune in every week to see who will do well, struggle and ultimately—win.
You might start a season cheering for one person—someone you knew or were familiar with. This season I initially rooted for Chynna. (I owned the Wilson Phillips CD).Then sometimes you grow to like someone else as you get to know them—that’s me and Rob Kardashian. I’ve never seen the Kardashian reality show. Rob just seemed like the boy next door. Yet, why you want someone to win, why they are successful and why they get votes might all be different when you look at behavior.
At first they seemed like a good match. They looked good together! Her athleticism couldn’t be beat. Many stars start the show with a plan to get in shape. Here, she had an edge. Yet, she is used to winning, being a leader and being in control. So is Max—and here comes the conflict. Hope had to literally follow Max. She needed to give in and be soft—none of which came naturally. In the world of behavior styles (DISC)—one might guess her to be a high D (dominant/driven) and Max might be one too. They both want to talk, fight and lead—but they had to learn to take turns. Also, when it came to their dancing—they didn’t look like they were dancing together. Hope ended up in the bottom 2 or 3 several times. It had less to do with her skills and more to do with their chemistry. Voters vote for people who are happy—not people who make them exclaim “can’t we all get along?”
On her show she has the hard edge—she’s gets the bad guys, says what she thinks. Her approach on DWTS is more of the high C (stable/analytic). She is methodical, does the work, asks questions and communicates directly. With two children, a full time job and rehearsing 7-8 hours a day—she fits it all in. She listens to the judges and applies the feedback—doesn’t argue or show any emotion when she gets the scores—on camera. When she’s behind the scenes—she’s frustrated because she wants to do better. Her behavior type has the highest standard for everything they do—and when it’s not achieved—it’s not okay.
J.R. Martinez,Ricki Lake, Chaz Bono, Rob Kardashian
The “nice guys.” Yet on DWTS, nice guys often and do finish first. They are nice and we like them because of it. They are unassuming, not too much drama. We see their children, spouses and friends cheering or crying for them and booing when they think Len said something unfair. Their S factor (amiable/complacent) means they are introverts—not used to this much attention or never really comfortable with it. Their sense of discomfort makes us like them. Their smaller ego and good attitude makes us feel like they need us to cheer for them. We also know they like people, which makes it easier for us to like them.
Carson Kressley and David Arquette
Our big show people! These folks thrive on the energy because they are extroverts (ego/expressive). They are happiest on the dance floor and might struggle some in rehearsal without the lights, camera and action. They also have high influence and engagement. We want to vote for them because then we are in on the party and in the club.
Like all reality shows, we tune in to see what happens. Who wins? The behind the scenes action! We might vote for someone who reminds us of how we would approach the show or someone who reminds us of us. And this year…it’s all about J.R. Martinez. That beautiful mirror ball is his!
We want our clients to like us. Sometimes we assume they like us. Or that we satisfy, delight, inspire them—add in your word du jour. But do we know and can we ask? It’s always nice to check in and confirm what we know—in all of our relationships. Head off a small problem before it’s a big one. And just like being thanked—it’s always appreciated.
The when and how of collecting feedback depends on the size of your company and who you are speaking with. With a larger company you can collect survey feedback. There are plenty of companies that can help you with this. With non-competitive clients, you could also opt for a focus group and solicit detailed feedback. Certainly this is a much higher level investment of time and resources. Yet, clients might feel more comfortable with some of the attention taken off them in a group setting. The client now can be inspired by what others think and you could get a flushed out idea from the multiple perspectives on a similar issue or question.
Yet, what I’m writing about is a one on one way to engage your top level decision maker in feedback. They want the most out of their investment with you—and engaged client (the ones you want to keep) will answer your questions.
Goal Review. We should always be collecting feedback each time we revisit the client’s goals. “When you started with us these were the goals of our working together. This is what we have done…How have your goals shifted with the progress we have made?” Go back to the work plan, letter of agreement and check where you think they are and where they think they are.
Each and Every Time. What if you collected feedback every time you spoke your client? This depends on how often you engage. If I were working with a client monthly or less—I’d collect feedback with each contact. This feedback can be as quick and easy as one question “What’s one thing we could be doing for you that we aren’t already?” The more we ask for feedback the more they understand how important it is to us. We keep the line of communication open. Then if there is a problem down the road they have this foundation to engage in a challenging conversation with us.
Tell them the “why.” Let them know “your opinion, voice, feedback is important to us. We have our own great ideas but are also interested in what has traction with you.” Let them know you strive to have an open relationship with your clients where feedback goes both ways. Also, understand their personality type. There might be a client who will give you lots of feedback, some that will give you none, some that feel badly about it and some that you have to decipher what it is they are saying under all the flowers and compliments. Approaching different styles of communicators with different approaches might produce better results.
Make it an easy question. “What can we do better?” is a difficult question to answer. It’s not the client’s responsibility to fix what’s wrong with any aspect of our business and that’s what they might infer you are asking. It’s also an overwhelming question. “What one thing could we do better?” is an easier question for a client to answer. It’s smaller and quantifiable. Your client might more easily come up with “1 thing.” Not “1 thing” we are doing “wrong” but just something they would like us to do a little better.
“What new products/services would you like to see us working on?” This question has two great outcomes. We get their opinion yet they are also committing to a future with us. We are engaging an emotional hold and verbal commitment for moving forward. We are also conveying an interest in our growing with them as they grow.
“What’s the most important reason you choose to do business with us?” It’s not the price. We all know that. Yet, we worry about the investment they make. The relationship is likely part of it. But if you don’t know—you probably shouldn’t guess. They might say something you wouldn’t expect.
Use the Golden Pause. Take their first answer with a head nod, smile. Then wait for it. Wait for them to go beyond the easy, simple, quick answer. The next answer, when you simply wait—might be the better one. It’s beyond the surface level. It’s in that moment of quiet when neither of you is saying anything they feel compelled to fill the silence with something. By waiting, giving them the “Golden Pause” you get them to explain a bit deeper—as long as you don’t get too excited and jump on the first need you hear!
Verify. Always verify. “Is this making sense?” “Are we on the same page?” “Sounds like we are in agreement?” are all ways to verify the topic at hand. Yet, what’s the difference in saying to a client “we really value your business” v/s “you know we value your business, right?” Getting them to agree and say “yes” is collecting feedback. And if they say “no,” we get the opportunity to fix it.
Most importantly, you want to take an individualized approach based on the client. It depends what kinds of services you provide them, what kind of relationship you have, their role in the organization and their investment in you. Yet, ask. Always ask the question.
Not really. Well, yes. I’m smarter than the average bear. Yet what makes me good at what I do has little to do with intelligence—it’s about paying attention.
Our behavior is observable—it’s behavior—duh. Your word choice, tone, rate of speech and body language are all observable. If you pay attention to those things you can use determine the best way to communicate with anyone, anywhere.
Ask yourself two simple questions:
- Does this person prefer people or tasks?
- Is this person introverted or extroverted?
Before I go any further let’s also clarify that being “introverted’ doesn’t mean that you don’t like people. It simply means that you get your energy when you are alone, quiet—if you were a laptop this is you “plugged in.” All those introverts can function in society yet when they are with others they can last only so long on the battery pack. We all know that our battery lasts a long time when we first buy a laptop and they slowly dwindle from there. As for extroverts—it’s the opposite. They can be perfectly happy being alone but that’s when they are on the battery pack. They need to be around other people to get their energy back—and plug in.
And here’s why you care:
- 2 employees that cannot seem to work together
- Your spouse, kids, family
- Landing the big fish
- And in general just being the person that people like to talk to, buy from and interact with because you get them regardless of who they are, where they come from or what they want
Determining the introvert or extrovert is a bit easier. Talks faster, lots of body language, eye contact, maybe more volume, varied tone, big stories, easy to engage—all extrovert. Introvert—minimal hand gestures, limited range in tone, less words, listen more than talks, appears to be thinking, waits for you to finish what you say.
People or tasks—listen to what they talk about. Do they reference a need for more information or another person’s opinion? What part of a project do they ask questions about—the process or the people involved? When they talk about people—how do they talk about them? Do they speak to theory, evidence, research, what they read or their gut, intuition, opinion?
These are the things I pay attention to. The more you do it the easier it gets. Then I apply it. I increase my body language if that person needs to “feel” my warmth. I ask questions to draw out others or shut up letting others talk and talk and talk (they tend to answer their own questions). I give a client more or less time when following up with them. I write shorter or lengthier emails. I modify my behavior.
I was training some fitness professionals recently. We had completed their DISC assessments in advance of the training. We began by talking about what DISC was, then reviewed the 4 styles—Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness and Compliance. We talked about each of their types and then I let them have free reign to ask questions. Two of the people with high I factors started talking about how it “was so them. How could this tool understand them?” They shared their own examples of how they behaved and the information resonated. Then one of the people with a high D asked for examples, “What does this mean? What would this look like?” I then went back and highlighted specific questions they had each asked, things they had done and referred to their specific behaviors from the previous hour. The person who asked the question dialed back—she saw her own behavior even in that smallest bit of time, not planned, not planted and how what I observed matched exactly what was on the assessment in front of her. She was sold, she saw the results.
So, it’s not so much that I am smart. I simply pay attention. I watch people all the time. In stores and restaurants, the more you do it the easier it gets. The more you understand others, the more you understand yourself. And then you can look really smart too!
Apparently, I do not. I was 23 years old and it was my first “real” performance review. I already knew to be terrified. I loved my boss and I did great work—but somehow, some reason, I knew this was not going to go well. At the time I was working for a major hotel corporation. They had an envelope size review card with boxes to check for various desired behaviors. And, of course, there was the Likert scale of poor, fair, average, good and excellent. My boss had a full and complete document to comprise his comments. Then the cards were given to one person of my choosing, one person of his choosing and someone who did not work in our department. This was supposed to give me a 360 degree perspective. Right.
And I did great—almost every box was checked excellent with a few goods interspersed here and there. Until we reached the last section and the second to last box “shares toys and plays well with others.” I got some fairs—maybe even a poor. I scoffed—what the heck is that supposed to mean anyway? What does that have to do with “real” work?
But I jump ahead. My boss knowing me a little too well took me offsite for my review. We went to a neighboring hotel—we had cosmopolitans (this was a long time ago—cosmos were cool then) in the bar. We sat uncomfortably at a high boy. My feet dangled, a shoe probably fell off at some point and time. But he knew not to deliver the review in his office with the door closed and the blinds drawn. I needed to be sequestered because I was going to be annoyed, angry and, of course, I was.
What the heck did that crap have to do with my performance? Did I meet my numbers—of course? Did my clients love me—you bet? Did I meet all my deadlines, do each thing that was expected of me and more—yes, yes, yes? But when the team wanted to go out for cocktails on a Friday—I wanted to go home. When it was time for birthday cake—I always seemed to be on the phone and not to be disturbed. Did I know the names of everyone’s spouses—nope?
I clearly remember talking to my 83 year old grandma about it. She was licking her chops over the rise in her ADM stock. Very proud of her shrewd purchases. She asked twice what the measure was—I explained. She said “you do a good job?” Me “of course I do Grandma!” Her “that other stuff doesn’t make any sense.”
Not at 23 years old it didn’t. Not when I always put myself first before anything and anyone else. And funny, this measure seemed to have a different name on other reviews through the years and just kept showing up. I was “too forward, focused on business, blunt, harsh.” My perception was that I was tough as nails—especially to those who didn’t work for me or weren’t close to me. My reputation proceeded me and was nearly impossible to change. Yet, people who wanted to work hard—they seemed to click with me. Those who wanted to be pushed—yep they were good too. But those who wanted some balance with work and home, people who wanted to have fun—conflict, conflict, conflict.
Work was always work in my book and play was play. Until work started to be a bit more like play. It felt really different. So did years of studying DISC, behavior and emotional intelligence. I was actually coached once to say “hello” before I asked someone to do something. What madness.
The message kept coming through “your work/projects/clients are getting done/taken care of in the way you want” because people can’t and won’t approach you. There were committees I wasn’t a part of because I was perceived as difficult even though I could work circles around people—by myself and that was the issue.
Playing well with others is also about respect. I had a ton of respect for myself but always assumed no one else could do it as quick and correct as me. So why let them do it? Why give them a chance?
I started talking less. I tried to apply the things I had been coached to do over the years. I listened to what others had to say. I went with their ideas even if I thought mine was better. I didn’t stand in the way of their success and let them define success in their own way and not mine. They learned, I learned.
And now, working for myself, it’s all about holding myself accountable for my own behaviors. I know what my blind spots are. I know the strength, need areas of all the 4 key behavior styles. I apply this—every day, every client, every conversation. They feel heard, I feel heard and we are sharing our toys and playing well with each other.