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Martin Reed

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How do you manage managers?


Martin Reed offers a new strategy to approaching management and how to bring out the best in your managers.

Understanding human behavioural patterns has been a critical part of survival since we first walked the earth – and its relevance has still not changed today. What has changed though is our ability to understand human behaviour and the underlying drivers that cause individuals to act a particular way.

In business, being aware of how different employees manage others means employers can manage their own people smarter and ensure a happy and more productive workforce.

All workplaces need a balance of personalities to address different functions and demands, but it is placing these individuals in their most optimum role that businesses can spend thousands of pounds and many years on getting right. Identifying the right mix of people to drive your business forward is absolutely critical. So how do you identify who they are?

Four key types of work behaviours that individuals may display in varying levels are:

  • Dominance- these individuals tend to be assertive, competitive and driving
  • Influence- these individuals tend to be communicative, friendly and persuasive
  • Steadiness- these individuals tend to be reliable, methodical and good listeners
  • Compliance- these individuals tend to be perfectionists and logical.

These profiles are part of the Thomas Personal Profile Analysis (PPA) and are not mutually exclusive – individuals often display two or three of these behaviours in varying levels, providing a three-dimensional picture of their preferred working style, their work behaviour ‘mask’ and their behaviour under pressure. High dominance managers tend to be driven to achieve results and will persevere when presented with challenges.

Meanwhile, high influence managers tend to motivate others to act positively and also cultivate relationships. Those managers displaying high steadiness are likely to be consistent and systematic in their style, whilst high compliance managers are likely to have an attention to detail, enforce quality, assess risk and adhere to policy and standard.

Behaviour blueprint

When giving an employee management responsibilities, you want to be completely sure they will be capable of delivering these, as well as their usual role requirements. By understanding their work behaviour blueprint, it is possible to know how they will behave as a manager in their current workplace, and even as a manager under pressure.

Understanding where employees’ strengths and weaknesses lie in their management style, particularly before they take on new responsibilities, means learning and development training can be tailored to be most effective and your budget can be maximised to specifically address any potential weaknesses.

This also minimises the ‘trial and error’ method of management. By ensuring individuals are aware of their own working styles when they first accept management responsibilities; they can ensure the right foundations are laid, which not only saves time, but money and stress!

Motivate staff

Everyone is motivated by something different. Psychometric assessments can help managers to understand this from the beginning, enabling them to modify and align their working style to those they manage in order to get the best out of them. For example, individuals displaying high dominance are more likely to be motivated by power and authority. A good manager would understand this and use this to motivate their staff in their everyday working life.

Conversely, others who have compliance-led profiles tend to be motivated by standard operating procedures that do not involve pushing boundaries or challenging others. Additionally, those that display high influence behaviour are more likely to be motivated by public praise and recognition, whilst individuals with high steadiness profiles tend to be motivated by security and so are more likely to respond to things like long term-plans to develop their career within the organisation.

To use this insight and be successful in their role, managers need to be aware of their own preferred working behaviour as well as the preferences of those they are managing. This enables managers to understand how they are perceived by others and how their working style impacts the rest of the team. The key here is to appreciate we are all different and not everyone shares the same working style.

It is also important to note that every working behaviour profile has a value and therefore, as a manager, it is their responsibility to adapt and modify their behaviour to better connect and motivate each of their team members. For example, influence-led managers may be susceptible to speaking too much and may need to modify their behaviour and be more to the point with employees who respond better to clear directions.

Ultimately, it is more than just knowledge of the company and an ability to delegate to others that makes a good manager. Knowing in advance how their behaviour will impact on those around them makes a crucial difference to their success in leading an engaged and productive team.

Martin Reed is CEO and chairman of Thomas International.


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