Managing different styles at work

by | Jul 12, 2014 | Blog, Career, Jessica Chivers, Personal Effectiveness | 0 comments

New to line management? Been doing it a while and not getting the best out of some of the people in your team? I produced these tips for getting the best out of different styles as part of a leader’s toolkit for a well-known brand. Whilst I’ve offered the tips as a dichotomy, we all know that line management isn’t that black and white and people fall on a spectrum and may move up and down it depending on the context.

I post them in the hope there is some value for you.

Introverts & Extroverts


1) Value their deep thinking style and assign tasks that require independent working. 2) Convey important information in writing (e-mail, paper documents or hand written note) to allow space and time to absorb it and form a view. 3) Schedule regular updates to ensure they keep you in their mental loop and make deadlines, and the consequences of not meeting them, explicit. 4) Don’t expect answers on the spot – send questions for reflection ahead of 1:1s and meetings


1) Create space for regular face time and phonecalls to ‘talk out’ ideas, synthesise information and formulate plans. 2) Energetically share what you’re thinking and keep them up to date – silence can be misconstrued as ‘something’s wrong.’ 3) Find ways for them to use their verbal skills. 4) Use questions to communicate your interest and focus their thinking.


Big Picture Thinking vs. Detailed Thinking

Big picture thinkers

1) Involve them in the scoping stages of strategic and creative assignments. 2) Signpost opportunities to collaborate and make connections more broadly than own team. 3) Facilitate links between big pictures and detailed thinkers in the team for collaboration where both play to their strengths. 4) Encourage them to write checklists to ensure important details of a project they’re responsible for, are delivered.

Detailed thinkers

1) Anticipate and have answers to questions (or know where to source answers) that drill into the detail. 2) Offer facts, data, specifics and give clear timelines on when you will know more, if you don’t have all the answers now. 3) Be prepared for objections to broad plans that seem to have missed important details. 4) Help cultivate a level of comfort around the unknown and show the benefits of keeping options broad/open in the early stages of a new venture


Orientation around People vs Task

Orientation around people

1) Ask how they are, show interest in them and the people they’re working with before getting ‘down to business.’ 2) Involve in making decisions, seek their views, acknowledge contributions. 3) Show concern for how things get done as much as what gets done. 4) Share your priorities, feelings and frustrations.

Orientation around task

1) Focus conversations on concern for the task – developments, milestones and deliverables. 2) Be aware of what’s getting in the way of progress and demonstrate your commitment to unblocking it. 3) Relay positive feedback from customers/end users affected by the task at hand. 4) Signpost resources, people and processes that could contribute to meeting the end goal effectively.


Pace – Reflective & Evolving vs Decisive Drive for Finish

Pace – reflective and evolving

1) Involve them in tasks where there’s ambiguity about what the solution might be and even what the ‘problem’ is. 2) Give them much more time than ‘decisive’ types to really understand a ‘problem’ before attempting to solve it. 3) Signpost interesting people, ideas and resources that might relate to what they’re working on – if nothing comes of it they’ll still be pleased you fed their curiosity. 4) Give them feedback on how their flexibility and openness is of value to you and the team.

Pace – decisive and driving for the finish

1) Be clear, specific and to the point on the end result and the quality you expect. 2) Allow them to work out how to achieve a goal – telling them how to do it dampens their drive. 3) So long as the goal is achievable, a complex task and/or deadline is likely to energise them (but don’t change the goal posts half way through). 4) Give them opportunities to take the lead and/or deputise for you.


Get more for your development

Got something from this? If you’re stepping into a new role and seeking coaching support beyond your line manager and mentor, this page might be of interest. You might also like to subscribe to my short psychology-based monthly musing.

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