I recently had a reader ask me what he should do about an office environment where the workers have incompatible Personality Types; e.g., Types A, B, C, and D. His concern was that some people didn't like to be told what to do and others stubbornly didn't want to work with others. First, it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a homogeneous environment whereby everyone is rowing on the same oar in a concerted manner, particularly in this day and age of self-absorption. Managers should certainly understand the different personality types, but shouldn't let this be a deterrent for creating a harmonious working environment. More importantly, the manager needs to understand and take charge of the corporate culture.
As I have written, there are logical and physical dimensions to corporate culture. The physical includes such things as office layout, temperature, ergonomics, and basically anything affecting the human senses of sight, sound, touch, smell, etc. Managers should understand people will adapt to their physical environment. If it is sloppy, they will do likewise. If it is clean, it will remain clean (as long as the manager instills the necessary discipline).
The logical side of corporate culture refers to personal behavior and includes such things as ethics, speech, common courtesy, protocol, etc. Here, some role models are needed as well as a code of conduct or policy manual. Employees shouldn't have to guess what the proper form of conduct is. Instead, it should be spelled out for them along with some visible examples (such as the boss). If the manager wants teamwork, he'll make them believe they are team players and coach them accordingly. However, if the boss wants rugged individualism, he'll allow petty politics to flourish.
I am amazed when I meet managers who do not grasp the significance of the corporate culture and allow others to dictate its behavior, such as their subordinates. One key element separating success from failure for a manager is his or her ability to control the corporate culture. If they allow others to dictate the culture, the manager will always be dancing to someone else's tune, as opposed to the other way around. Imagine a baseball team run by the players as opposed to the coach. Players would fight over the positions to play, game strategy, what plays to call, even what to wear for a uniform, and in all likelihood you would never again see a "sacrifice bunt." No, we need managers to instill the necessary discipline, assign duties and responsibilities, and instill a sense of teamwork towards a common goal. In my book, that is called controlling the corporate culture.
Yes, managers need to understand the talents and personalities of their workers in order to utilize them to their maximum potential, but they must first create the proper working environment for the staff to adapt to, not the manager.
For more information on this subject, see my article entitled, "Understanding Corporate Culture."
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at email@example.com
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