I find it interesting when management work is often referred to as either the hard science or the soft science. The hard science refers to deliverables, tasks,goals, and plans while the soft science refers to the “soft skills” around people management.  One is easily measurable and concrete and the other remains uncertain and unpredictable. People are complex, and so too is managing them.

So rather than say “hard and soft” work why don’t we call it the “hard and harder” work?

The challenge notwithstanding, there are new approaches to understanding the people with whom we work. We know we don’t all think alike. Our experiences and our orientation to problem-solving shape how we perceive issues and approach them differently. Getting a clearer understanding of these styles among us can help us become better managers and team members.

Based on research by the Adizes Institute and new diagnostic tools –Vitals©and BBF©– you can discover the thinking styles of people with whom you work as one of four types. While we typically have some of each five, we tend to have a dominant style. The styles are based on a specific orientation to problem-solving:

  • Action-oriented
  • Process-oriented
  • People-oriented
  • Innovation-oriented
  • Balanced-oriented

The fifth is unique in that it is a balanced blend of all the four. People with this thinking style are rare and exceptional.

The differences are all valuable to an organization.  Action- oriented people are all about getting the job done. They have a strong work ethic and hate wasting time on anything that distracts from achieving results. Process people pay attention to the best ways to get things done in reliable ways to ensure quality. People oriented folks are gifted at knowing which people should work on what and why. They are sensitive to others and build effective teams. Innovators have 90 ideas before breakfast and can inspire people with the faith that anything is possible. The person who is a balance of all four is a perfect candidate to manage others, as he or she can translate to others who do not understand each other in ways to help clear misunderstanding and move teams to resolution. They are often natural team leaders and are ideal candidates for board chair.

Of course, this is a high-level description. More details about the unique profiles help to clarify the full value of each.*

One important reason to discover the styles of your employees it to ensure you have diversity in your teams. While discussions about gender diversity are popular now, diversity of thought is even more valuable. Homogeneous groups tend to create “behavioral  sync” outcomes. The group thinks alike and gets along socially because of it. Yet, the ideas and value of decisions are less robust. By contrast, highly diverse teams produce more creative, higher quality decisions.

Learning this about each other does much more. It helps us manage and get things done more effectively. It gives us smarter ways to combine talent in groups to address important tasks with highly diverse thinkers around the table. It makes us better coaches as we develop our people in their careers. It refines our thinking about what type of thinker is the ideal fit to join a company, based on what they bring to the existing team.It helps us build more compassionate, understanding team members who learn how to work together while respecting differences.

In recruiting, it helps us determine who is the ideal fit for your organization.

So, let’s be mindful as we manage others.  Let’s understand them and makeworking together a great experience. If you are interested in support to understand candidates and employees, we can help.