Monday, April 8, 2013

Pokes and provocations

I was meeting with a CEO client this week and the conversation turned to productivity and time management.  Well, sort of.

What he said was:  "I'd get a hell of a lot more done if my staff didn't drive me crazy."

Owners and employees.  Managers and staff.  CEOs and mangers. Why can't they just get along?

The CEO's lament reminded me of a phrase I had heard earlier, which also related to managing relationships:  "Don't poke the crazy."  I wasn't familiar with that one, but I was with its ursine iteration: "Don't poke the bear," which is similar to "gets your goat."

Whether you anthropomorphize your anger or not, losing your cool, or vice versa, is counterproductive to effective management.  Just ask Rutgers University basketball coach Mike Rice.  The fallout from both the bad behavior, and the condoning of it, will leave a mark.

What drives you crazy and how do you deal with provocative behavior?   Understanding personalities -- yours as well as others -- is critical to successful leadership and motivation.   

As leadership strategist Chinese military leader Sun Tzu wote in The Art of War two thousand years ago:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but know not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.  If you know not the enemy or yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Some things apparently never change.  Just as you have specific attitudes, values and behaviors, so does everyone else.  Can you relate?  Can you afford not to?  After all, your employees are valuable assets and represent a considerable investment.  Protecting and maximizing that investment is smart business.

Not every entrepreneur is a great manager.  In fact, many of the traits are incompatible.  So, seek professional help.  From DISC, to Myers-Briggs, to Personal Style Indicator, there are many personality and behavioral assessment tools available to organizations.  Find one and use it, preferably with a skilled trainer.  

The more you understand about personality, the better able you are to relate to others and the more likely you are to understand how to effectively manage different personalities without going postal.

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