Multiple Personality Disorder? Not so great. Multiple personalities in meetings? A fact of life.
How do you go about managing all the different personality types you’re sure to encounter in meetings?
We’ve been reading Cameron Herold’s new book on meetings, affectionately called “Meetings Suck”. (Cameron points out that meetings themselves don’t actually suck… the people running them, on the other hand, could use a little help)
In it, he devotes a chapter to addressing personalities, using a chart like this:
This is a personality quadrant chart that splits people’s behavioral style into Analytical-Driver-Amiable-Expressive categories. If you haven’t yet gotten insight into your own personality, I highly recommend it – there are a number of online tools for doing this. I really like and have used 16 Personalities. Your personal ROI for the 20 minutes to take the test and interpret the results is compelling. In fact, consider having everyone on your team do it and compare results!
In this model, the four personality styles are:
Analytical – Analytical people are known for being systematic, well organized and deliberate. These individuals appreciate facts and information presented in a logical manner. They enjoy organization and completion of detailed tasks. Others may see her at times as being too cautious and overly structured.
Driver – These people thrive on the thrill of a challenge and the internal motivation to succeed. Drivers are practical folks who focus on getting results. They can do a lot in a very short time. They usually talk fast, direct and to the point. Drivers are often viewed as decisive, direct and pragmatic.
Amiable – People who are amiable are dependable, loyal and easygoing. They like things that are non-threatening and friendly. They hate dealing with impersonal details and cold hard facts. They are usually quick to reach a decision. Amiables are described as warm and sensitive to the feelings of others.
Expressive – These individuals are outgoing and enthusiastic, with a high energy level. Expressives are great idea generators, but usually don’t have the ability to see the idea through to completion. They enjoy helping others and are particularly fond of socializing. They are usually slow to reach a decision. Often thought of as a talker, overly dramatic, impulsive, and manipulative.
Having done a few personality tests over the years, I personally test out as an Expressive-Driver. I feel elated checking off accomplishments and love working and helping others. I genuinely feel angry if I don’t make it through my mental to-do list every day, have a high energy level and speak quickly.
It should be noted that opposite personality types often clash! Amiables view hard charging Drivers as emotionless and uncaring. Drivers see Amiables as overly sensitive worry-warts. Analytics perceive Expressives as overly bombastic know-it-alls, while Expressives see Analytics as overly fact-oriented and boring. Be aware of this if you’re working with someone in the opposite quadrant. 🙂
Within a work setting, we generally maintain our personality styles, but they do shift based on the situation. When working with your boss you may skew Amiable, but leading a call with your customer you demonstrate Expressive and Driver qualities, for example.
Cameron points out that, as stewards of the meetings we participate in it’s important to recognize the different personalities that make up our meetings and to work to accommodate (and in other cases, manage) everyone. With such a wide array of styles sitting around the table, where do you start?
Step1 – Identify Dominant Styles
Step 1 is clearly to identify the personality styles for those who make up your team. We recommend actively observing each of your team members to help identify their dominant traits. For example, on our team Gioele is generally Expressive, Ian is Analytic and Noah is Amiable. Gioele thrives on experiencing new places and things (he explored Brazil last year and is about to travel to the Yukon for a week long canoe trip). Ian likes to sit back and gather information before providing a wise and thoughtful response, and is mechanically gifted. Noah is accommodating and sensitive to those around him.
Step2 – Generate a plan
For the people and styles you identified in step 1, assemble a list of approaches you can use for each:
Analytical – Present facts, numbers and data, be objective and discuss opposing perspectives, stay away from feelings, use a formal approach, discuss options and the benefits/drawbacks of each
Driver – Get to the point, make direct eye contact, be clear, arrive on time, speak quickly, focus on outcomes and results, don’t chit-chat
Amiable – Make eye contact but look away periodically, ask them how they feel about things, encourage them to share, listen as much as possible, avoid pressure filled decisions
Expressive – Focus on the bigger picture vs. details, allow time for socialization and bonding, maintain balance between fun and outcomes, speak with pronounced voice
Within our own team, I try and match styles. When interacting with Gioele I’m upbeat and excitable. With Ian, I value his input and look for opportunities to let him contemplate and provide his opinion. I’m keen to learn what Noah is up to and actively seek out his feelings.
Step 3 – Interact and observe
Using the tactics you developed in step 2, interact with your team. Try one or two approaches at a time and observe the outcome. Did your colleague respond? If so, make a note and revisit this approach. If not, try another tactic from your plan. Repeat!