John is a solid and reliable employee who works hard. He is known for his pragmatic and methodical approach. You give him a project and you know he will complete it in time and on budget. By the same token he hates meetings, rarely having anything to say unless it specifically relates to his work. In fact open hostility seems to break out whenever Susan starts talking. She will always challenge John about his work and its benefits to the business in the long term. She will look at the tables and statistics in his reports and quickly conclude about how the business should respond, which drives John insane. The thing that John hates the most is when Susan has a gut feel for taking a course of action. After all, on what logical basis does Susan have to make these ridiculous statements!
It is fair to say that John and Susan have very different motivations for approaching their work. They have natural personality differences . John prefers to take in information that is real and tangible. A label for this is having ‘Sensing’ preferences. Susan on the other hand prefers to take in information by seeing the big picture, looking for connections between facts. A label for this is having ‘Intuition’ preferences.
How do our natural sensing and intuiting preferences play out in the workplace? Read below about the different ways these manifest.
What do Sensing people look like?
They tend to concentrate on the present realities of their work
They are particularly interested in facts and figures
They have a skill at observing and remembering details
They are methodical in approaching their work
They prefer to learn by doing
What do Intuiting people look like?
They tend to concentrate on future possibilities of their work
They are oriented to be imaginative and creative
They look at information through what it meanings and the patterns it shows
They are happy following their hunches and can come to conclusions quickly
They want to clarify things first before acting
What are the implications of these natural preferences to the work environment?
It would be no surprise to say that the tension between these two employees is having a negative affect on the team and by definition the business. John is about getting the job done in here and now and Susan is about creating the future for the business. John is about utilising a proven and methodical approach but Susan is more oriented to making hunches and perceptively taking risks. John wants to get on with the job while Susan needs to clarify things before acting.
The key question is how do you utilise the talents of both employees in a more cohesive way? A circuit breaker needs to occur.
It may mean that one may have to leave the business.
Appropriate training could take place to build awareness, tolerance and understanding about the benefits of working together.
Alternatively when recruiting, making certain you keep the right mix of people, you employ someone who has the skills to work better in a team.
If you recall the last newsletter I wrote about Introversion and Extraversion preferences. Equally here, people can learn to adopt characteristics of the other preference type but under pressure or given a choice they will revert to their natural preferences. With this in mind people will always work best when there is a fit between their natural preference and their daily tasks. The real challenge for the management of John and susan is to find away of working more cohesively together.
If you have any thoughts or experiences please share them with me. I can then post these (maintaining confidentiality) on a future blog to start a conversation about the topic. This may start a valuable conversation amongst like minded people to help all of us do things better. firstname.lastname@example.org