One Size Fits All Management is Dead

I’ve always been a huge fan of personality quizzes. Ever since I was a little girl reading J-14 magazine all the way to full out Myers-Briggs, it was always so fascinating to see how seemingly meaningless questions can be pretty accurate to who you are and how you respond to different situations.

One of my absolute favorites was the Love Languages test. It’s designed for you and your partner to understand how both of you show and feel love, as well as appreciation. Even if you don’t have a partner currently, I highly suggest you check it out. It can be very telling as to why past relationships didn’t work out too.

It also tells you a lot about how you approach work relationships as well.

Part of the reason that these quizzes have become such a big sensation among the internet-folk is because how many variations of personalities and nuances we have in our society. Diversity is part of what makes us a beautiful species, and when we understand how people other than ourselves think, it allows for more effective communication. This is incredibly important in a cohesive work environment.

As a leader, you have multiple types of personalities and strengths to juggle, as well as your own. You are managing different types of people while also trying to find some sort of baseline in the middle so you can successfully measure them as well. It’s not for the faint of heart, and it’s basically impossible to make everyone happy. The same comment that motivates one person can completely turn off someone else.

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This is why one-on-ones are critical. If you have 10 members on your team, all varying experience level, you have to expect that they will respond to things differently. Speaking to your team as a whole is a very different dynamic than what you will get one-on-one. You’ll get an even different dynamic two-on-one. Different people respond to different situations, different people, and the only way to figure that out is by trying separate tactics. Getting to know your team on a personal level (within reason) is crucial to your success as a manager.

Let’s look at an example shall we?

Your employee isn’t performing up to their potential. You know this because you have seen what they’re capable of, but their results aren’t there.

There are a billion ways you could have this conversation. You could be completely matter of fact, more sensitive, scare tactic, the list goes on and on. You could do this with them alone, you could bring in backup, you could even do it in front of the whole team. Most of the time your employees will learn how you typically approach things and respond accordingly – but that doesn’t give you permission to not be cognizant of each one of them individually.

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The most important task a leader has is listening to his or her team. You can’t develop or mentor them if you two are speaking a different language, and unfortunately that’s a large cause for losing great talent. To be clear, I am NOT saying to coddle your team and show special treatment to certain people. What I’m saying is to understand that a “one size fits all” management style will not fly anymore.

People don’t like to work for companies. They like to work for people.  If you’re not a person people want to work for, then your days will be numbered as well. Watch how your employees respond in meetings nonverbally. Listen to how they respond one on one, and with their fellow peers. “Criminal Minds” them if you have to! Sometimes what they’re not saying is more valuable than what they’re actually saying.

A Native Texan now living in the magnificent New York City, Tricia Howard is an artist gone rogue who ended up in the wonderful world of technology. With a B.A. in Theatre Arts and interests ranging from Star Wars to Opera, she brings a unique and artistic perspective to her clients and the tech world. When she’s not solving business problems, you can find her singing, painting, and doing copious amounts of jigsaw puzzles.