Let’s be brutally honest: you are surely acquainted with one or more individuals that you are not particularly fond of. It may be that Rita, your neighbour, is too loud and nosey for your liking. It could be that Uncle George is overly fussy and pernickety. Or, maybe, the chatty guy at the bus stop simply does not give you good vibes.
The chances are that there is someone at your workplace who you struggle to connect and communicate with. When collaborating and rowing in unison towards the same goal, any form of discord can slow down the team’s progress on a task. Moreover, at the end of a meeting, you may feel frustrated with a colleague who has not cooperated in the way you would have liked them to.
Ultimately, talking and working with ‘idiots’ is challenging. By ‘idiots’, we do not mean a stupid or foolish person. In the eyes of Thomas Erikson, a Swedish author and lecturer, an ‘idiot’ is just an individual who has a different behaviour profile and, therefore, style of communication. For you to better understand their complex personality, it is also crucial to become more familiar with your own traits. We’re living in a hybrid world of work, customers expectations are growing whilst employees demand more flexibility, so its never been so the need for good management skills is inevitable to keep pace.
This article will outline how learning more about yourself can both improve your abilities as a leader and truly boost your team development. Taking inspiration from Erikson’s bestseller “Surrounded by Idiots”, we will discover how you can better connect with your staff and empower your employees.
Get to know your workers
Humans are not monothematic robots. Instead, each person has their own unique, intricate character.
In the office, workers approach and deal with tasks in their own way. Some will follow every single rule to the letter, glued to their laptop from 9 to 5. Others will instead take it a bit easier, alternating work with the odd playful chat, even on the busiest of days. As a boss, depending on your own personality, you will prefer one or the other type of employee. Are you an authoritative, rigorous leader? Or are you more people-orientated, favouring your staff’s wellbeing over the timely completion of tasks?
There is no right or wrong answer. We all have our own way of going about our business. But shaping the way you interact with your employees can do wonders for the confidence and self-belief of your staff.
Erikson categorises human behaviour into four different colours – red, yellow, green, and blue. In short, each colour encompasses a range of components that, ultimately, form an individual’s behaviour. By understanding what each colour stands for and how it carves employees’ personality, you can learn to dialogue and manage your workers in a way that truly valorises their qualities. Here is a quick summary:
- Red – A person with significant red traits tends to be ambitious, direct, determined, goal-oriented, opinionated, controlling, and rather impatient. When addressing a Red, you need to be frank, honest, and argumentative – they don’t like when someone speaks evasively or skirts around a point. To motivate them, give them a demanding task as opposed to a tedious and mundane one. If involved in a project, they will thrive in a position of command – so ensure to make allowances for that!
- Yellow – Yellows love company and being around people. Therefore, they strive to always cooperate and get people involved in assignments. They also tend to be communicative, persuasive, outgoing, adaptable, and with their head in the clouds. Be open and friendly with yellows – laugh at their jokes and throw one in yourself. Independent work is not their forte, as they can be a tad disorganised and do not like isolation.
- Green – A green person is usually calm, supportive, considerate, kind, prudent, and somewhat hesitant. They are not great fans of sudden changes and prefer to listen than talk. Indeed, they don’t necessarily want to be the centre of attention and feel more comfortable in one-to-one sessions than group meetings. Ensure to praise them for their good work from time to time – if you criticise them, make it clear that it is nothing personal, as they tend to have sensitive egos.
- Blue – Finally, people with significant blue traits are often very well-organised, analytical, logical, and quite reserved. They tend to follow rules and are not too bothered about bonding with other colleagues. When assigning them a task, it is important that you explain everything meticulously – they like to be aware of every single detail. Since blues are generally perfectionists, make sure to give them enough time to complete their work – tight deadlines do not suit them well.
Discover your own traits
With an identikit of your workers at hand, it is time to take a look at how you can both learn more about your own persona and develop your skills as a leader. Here are a few tips:
- Take a personality test – Just like your employees, and every other human on the planet, you have your own personal traits too. Why not uncover your true character by completing a personality test? There are plenty of options available online. Powerful, sophisticated tests may not be free, but will certainly give you a substantial and useful overview of your inner self.
- Work on your weaknesses – As you read your personality report, you may catch sight of specific traits that you can identify as weaknesses. This is not a bad thing, rather, weaknesses offer a great opportunity to build on your character and strengthen your persona.
- Improve communication – Are you a tad impulsive and overly direct? If you are giving feedback to your sensitive Green employee, adapt your language to suit them – try to be more delicate and considerate. Are you a bit unstructured in your communication? Making an effort to be more focused and precise will benefit your Blue colleague. Ultimately, these expedients will help you empower your staff, enhancing both their productivity and the efficiency of your team as a whole.
- Encourage and focus on staff – Once you have identified your strong traits, ensure to put them at the disposal of your workers. Are you a caring and outgoing person by nature? Then don’t play the role of the big, scary boss! By making your employees feel at ease and focusing on their wellbeing, you will create a thriving and productive environment that no-one will ever want to leave. Not to mention that nurturing your strong facets will advance your personal development exponentially.
Leading a team of people, each with their own unique traits and character, is no easy task. By identifying your strongest assets and understanding your staff’s personalities, however, you can truly boost the performance of your colleagues.
So, what do you think? Will you get to know your employees better in the future?