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People Problems -- Understanding the Dueling Paradigms


You've spent the last 12 years riding your technical skills up the corporate ladder.

Now the payoff -- you're a manager.

Congratulations.

You get the perks: Big title. Big paycheck. Big office.

Big people problems!

People problems, you think? Ha, no issue.

You're the best in the department. You know every piece of equipment. You know business.

And, you are motivated. You work hard. You are committed to excellence. People problems?no issue.

But...the Sales manager frustrates you because she "never gets all the details." And...the administrative assistant irritates you by talking on the phone about personal issues? Well?the customer service people?they cost your department lots of money because they just don't know how to say no? Hmmm, maybe there are some people issues out there.

What you see may well be a case of "dueling paradigms" -- a problem that could poison your team.

Your paradigm -- your viewpoint -- is how you see the world. Sounds obvious?and it is?but very often, good people don't see the real problem until they have made many costly mistakes.

To some extent, we all interpret other people's words and actions through our own paradigm. But other people act on their paradigm, not ours. The problem comes when we assume they have our paradigm?and they assume we have theirs.

Fortunately, there is hope. Even though most of us have different paradigms, there is a way to get past the differences and build stronger teams.

People tend to approach everything they do -- from how they solve problems at work to how they drive a car -- based on their personality style. Their personality style forms the basis for their paradigm about what is "right" or "wrong" with people, procedures, situations, etc.

For example, technical people tend to have a very analytical, task-oriented approach to life. We see life as a collection of problems that we need to solve or as disorder that we need organize.

Other equally intelligent and capable people see the world in terms of personal relationships and fun. Remember the Sales manager? She doesn't act like she does to give the technically oriented manager a stroke. Most likely, she just sees the world differently. She has a different paradigm.

We can explain these different paradigms with what many people know as the DISC Model of Human Behavior.

Years ago, Harvard psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston developed a theory that people tend to develop a self-concept based on one of four factors - Dominance, Inducement, Steadiness, or Compliance. This theory forms the basis of the DISC Model. Through the years, other psychologists and behavioral analysts have developed a variety of practical tools to apply his theory.

One of my mentors, Dr. Robert Rohm (Personality Insights, Inc.) has developed, what I believe to be, the best practical application tools based on the DISC model. Through his work, his publications, and a network of Human Behavioral consultants he has helped millions of people around the world.

Let's briefly explore the model.

If you've got a piece of paper handy, draw a circle on it. If not, picture a circle in your mind. This circle represents the full range of personalities (temperaments, paradigms, etc.) of the people in your life.

Now, divide the circle in half horizontally. The upper-half represents outgoing or fast-paced individuals. The lower half represents reserved or slower-paced people. Outgoing people tend to move faster, talk faster, be more expressive, and speak more loudly than reserved people. Neither style is right or wrong -- just different.

Now divide the circle in half vertically. The left half represents task-oriented people. The right half represents people-oriented people. Task-oriented people tend to focus on doing things while people-oriented people tend to focus on interacting with or caring for other people. Again, neither style is right or wrong -- just different.

When you combine these viewpoints, you get a circle with four quadrants. The four quadrants represent the four basic personality styles. All of us are a blend, to a greater or lesser degree, of all four behavioral tendencies. However, we will tend to have predominant traits from one or two quadrants that reflect our primary drives and needs.

"D" type individuals are outgoing and task-oriented. They are dominant, determined, decisive, and diligent. They need choice, challenge, and control.

"I" type individuals are outgoing and people-oriented. They are inspiring, interesting, interested in people, and influencing. They need popularity, approval, and recognition.

"S" type individuals are reserved and people-oriented. They are supportive, steady, stable, and shy. They need appreciation, affirmation, and security.

"C" type individuals are reserved and task-oriented. They are cautious, calculating, contemplative, and careful. They need quality answers, value, and excellence.

Develop the ability to look past behaviors to focus on the needs and drives of individuals you interact with; and you will reduce conflict, improve communication, and build greater trust.

For example, I am mostly reserved and task-oriented (High-C or Cautious). When working with an outgoing, task-oriented (High-D or Dominant) person, I could look at specific behaviors (bottom-line focus, direct and abrupt conversational style, and action-oriented thinking) and call them "rude." Or, I can recognize that they like to solve problems and are driven by a need for choices and control. Taking the second perspective; I now value their focus on results, get past my perception of them, and understand rather than label them. Once I understand them, I work with them more effectively because I don't let our "dueling paradigms" control the relationship.

Manager, entrepreneur, sales rep, or parent; it really doesn't matter. Seeing people for who they are and valuing their contribution to the team forms the basis for establishing a relationship that gets results, has room for fun, supports each individual, and produces high-quality work.

Guy Harris is a Relationship Repairman and People-Process Integrator. His background includes service as a US Navy Submarine Officer, functional management with major multi-national corporations, and senior management in an international chemical business. As the owner of Principle Driven Consulting, he helps entrepreneurs, business managers, and other organizational leaders improve team performance by applying the principles of human behavior.

Guy co-authored "The Behavior Bucks System(tm)" to help parents reduce stress and conflict with their children by effectively applying behavioral principles in the home. Learn more about this book at http://www.behaviorbucks.com

Learn more about Guy at http://www.principledriven.com

Leadership is best defined by the quality of your thoughts, decisions and actions. It is also underpinned by the quality of the tools you use in your role. Be seen to bring true leadership to your organization and act with the authority that it brings to you.

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