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Management Report

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Know Your Employees

Know Your Employees


Mar. 11, 2011


Welcome to our video program. I’m Wu-Ran KANG from the Human Resources Department.

Change is one of the most important key words for a business. But successful change is never easy. Eight out of 10 companies that try to drastically reinvent themselves end up failing. One of the main reasons for this is that management often fails to successfully persuade the hearts of its employees.

If you want to successfully embrace change in the business world, you have to know who your employees are and what they are like. If you can do that, it will become much easier to get them to embrace new ideas with the same enthusiasm you do.

Today, we are going to look at how we can better understand our employees by studying their personalities, hence improving the chance you are going to succeed in change.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator Test is probably the most well known personality assessment. Even those of you who have not taken the test have probably heard about it. The assessment draws conclusions based on four dichotomies: extraversion (E) / introversion (I), sensing (S) / intuition (N), thinking (T) / feeling (F) and judgment (J) / and perception (P).

A person's personality type is expressed with one end of each dichotomy called the individual preference, which forms a four-letter type, e.g. ISTJ. The information can be then used to pursue change at individual, team or company level.

First, let’s look at how the assessment can be used at an individual level. As we speak today, many companies are using personality information they collect through company counseling offices or outside agencies. This is to make changes at an individual level through objective self awareness based on personality information.

The bottom line here is that leveraging personality information is not about changing a person’s characteristics. It is about looking at oneself from an objective point of view.

An F-type person tends to generalize a single incident to his or her entire relationship with a person. If such an individual has an argument with a boss, they may go to extremes, thinking “my boss hates me all the time.” Those with an F-type personality need to approach issues as if no argument occurred in the first place, and look at their relationships with their bosses from a different angle.

People of different personalities have different attitudes toward change. A leader can suggest the way of change that fits each individual based on personality information.

For example, SP-type people have free spirits. They love change, but refuse to follow someone or a mass herd of change.

If a leader wants to change this type of employees, he or she needs to give them instant feedback. If such employees have trouble dealing with an unclear role within their team, they need to fix and clarify the situation.

An NT-type of person knows where to head in terms of change, but is weak in devising detailed plans or methods. In this case, a leader should give him more discretion, check how they are doing in terms of self development and provide challenging opportunities.

The second method of change is using personality information at the team communication level. If the majority of team members have the same type of personality, it is very likely that the decision making process of the team does not reflect various perspectives.

Let’s say there are four ISTJ-type members in a team of nine. ISTJ type refers to people with a sense of responsibility, discretion, accurate memory of what actually happened and lack of a long-term view. It can be assumed that the team is very work-oriented, dull, and expects team members to work obediently even when not fully understanding their job.

Personality information can help us form a team and know what is lacking when it comes to team communication. Likewise, we can assign appropriate roles to individuals based on their personality at the communication stage.

Then, what kind of personality works well at each communication stage?

When we look at the process of team communication for decision making, communication begins with grasping facts, which is a stronghold of F-type people. The next step is to analyze the implications and the necessity of a project, where N-types can help others. And then at the pros and cons stage, T-types work the best. At the final stage, everyone comes together and sees if the decision was the best for them. In most cases, an F-type leads the team.

As such, properly dividing work based on each individual’s personality helps communication. The information also assists in the correction of problems arising during decision making when the majority of team members have similar personalities. If there is no N-type person in a team, the team leader and members can intentionally suggest the kind of questions that an N-type would think of. In other words, you can enhance the health and balance of a team and their communication outcome, based on personality information.

Lastly, personality information can be used at a company level. Many large-scale strategic changes go sour because of a failure in communication between different levels of the hierarchy. In particular, when top management and senior executives do not understand one another, it is impossible to pursue change in the first place. In many cases, they do agree on the necessity and direction of change, but fail to do so when devising detailed strategies. And that’s where personality information comes in.

Let’s take Hallmark Cards for example. The company was founded in 1910, and takes pride in their history of helping people connect with each other and give a voice to their feelings.

But with the Internet era and mobile devices looming, they came to share the idea that traditional manufacturing could no longer take them further. As the focus of the company shifted from product manufacturing to customer feelings, multiple conflicts and complaints surfaced. It was pointed out that top management and senior executives had issues with communication. A counselor for the company found that the problems originated from the different personalities of people.

Many of the senior executives at Hallmark were T (thinking)-types, whereas Donald Hall Junior and the fourth generation management were F (feeling)-types. Although these two-types agreed on the direction of change, executives focused on creating more profit, while top management emphasized the human- side of the business.

The different tones and styles for delivering change led to the misunderstanding between the two. Counselors used their personality information and provided 1:1 counseling, explaining that although they were pursuing the same goal, they expressed it in different ways. After counseling sessions, they realized and admitted that their difference in personalities led to the misunderstanding. They were then able to focus on creating a customer-oriented organizational culture, befitting of the 21st century.

If you can understand members of your organization better by looking at their personalities and communicate with each other based on that, you will be one step closer to the change youdesire.

Thank you for watching. I’m Wu-Ran KANG.

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