The Impact of Your Management Style

Dan Bobinski: The Impact of Your Management Style

Medical Dealer Magazine | Block Imaging | Dan BobinskiYour management style correlates directly to communication style. And, because managers set the tone in their departments and teams, interpersonal dynamics will vary widely, depending on who is in charge. Even though everyone should be working to keep the gears of communication well-oiled, I place the responsibility for effective communications squarely on the shoulders of management.

The reasons for this are many: It’s management that has a better view of the bigger picture. It’s management that has the power to open or close lines of communication. And, it’s management that sets the example for the front line to follow. Or at least they’re supposed to.

Therefore, for good communication to occur, it’s management’s responsibility to create the environment for it to happen.

As I’ve discussed in a previous column, behavioral styles are the best indicator of preferences in communication. As such, it’s beneficial to have a working knowledge of the four behavioral measurements in a DISC assessment (Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness, and Compliance). The key for managers is to be aware of their own communication strengths, and also the limitations of each strength’s associated weakness.

Allow me to underscore the fact that each strength has a corresponding weakness. In workshops, I often mention that my great aunt (from Poland) used the phrase “kij ma dwa końce” whenever she heard two people bickering. The translation of this common Polish phrase is “a stick has two ends.” When I first heard her use that phrase I sarcastically thought “wow, how profound.” But as I pondered the idiom, I realized its value when learning about behavioral style. Each measurement of behavior, such as how we respond to problems or influence people, or how closely we adhere to established rules, can be plotted on a spectrum (or stick). And it’s important for us to know that different behavioral preferences have very different communication styles.

Let’s start by examining the management responsibility of problem-solving. For the Driver/Core “D” (Dominant) behavioral style, it’s natural to jump on a problem as soon as one appears. This is a great strength, but the associated weakness is that the Driver/Core “D” rarely takes time to gather enough data for good problem solving. The result? Although a quick decision for resolving a problem is made, it’s not always an effective solution. After the quick solution is implemented, the problem may still exist. It may even get worse.

Medical Dealer Magazine | Block Imaging | Dan Bobinski

Managers who score strongly in the Driver/Core “D” style do well to slow down and consider more carefully the ripple-effects of their solutions. A good practice is to gather input from people who look at multiple sides of an issue more thoroughly. This can drive the Driver/Core “D” manager up a wall, but it’s a “best practice” for improving communication — and for solving problems, often saving a lot of time and money in the long run.

Next let’s consider managers who love to verbally engage others to influence them to their way of thinking. The strength of this style is optimism. Upon first glance, it appears this Sanguine/Core “I” (Influencing) style has no problems communicating because they believe that if everyone would just talk things through, problems can be resolved. But a common difficulty for this management style is they spend too much time talking optimistically and not enough time analyzing the pros and cons of an issue. In other words, sorting out the specifics can feel like a burden to this style, which can lead to important details being overlooked.

A manager scoring high in the Sanguine/Core “I” style will do well to surround him or herself with at least one person who is good at detail work, and depend heavily on that person to be a communication bridge. Ignoring this potential blind spot can lead to many devoted employees becoming discouraged because their communications are often overlooked or forgotten.

Side note for people who work with Sanguine/Core “I” styles: Improve communications by providing your input in writing (bullet points are good). By the same token, Sanguine/Core “I” managers can improve communications by asking people to provide their input in writing (such as email).

Next let’s consider the style commonly known as the Amiable, or the Core “S” (Steadiness) style. This style has a strong desire to serve others, and often works long hours so that a job gets done on time and done well. Amiable/Core “S” styles prefer very steady, yet low-key communications. This is a great strength, but potential weaknesses include taking too long to reach decisions and not delegating enough, usually out of fear of offending or over-burdening others on the team.

Managers with this style can improve communications by finding a confidant who is more results-oriented to help the Amiable/Core “S” determine the best use of his/her time and resources. And, because a common problem for this style is an aversion to conflict, the confidant can help the manager identify strategies for how to deal with potentially uncomfortable conversations.

Finally, let’s consider the Analytical/Core “C” (Conscientious) style. Managers with this style are compliant with established rules and procedures — obviously a great strength. But the commonly associated weakness is analysis paralysis, or the quest for perfection. This can take all forward progress to a crawl.

A friend of mine with this style recently showed me a diagram he’s having framed for his office. It’s simply a horizontal timeline divided into two parts of equal length. The first half is labeled “necessary effort to achieve the desired result; noticed by everyone.” The second half reads “extra effort to make sure it’s perfect; noticed by no one.” Similar to the Amiable style, managers with an Analytical style can improve communications by finding a confidant who is more results-oriented to help the Analytical style maintain forward momentum.

The bottom line here is that different styles are neither good nor bad. They simply indicate different ways we communicate when it comes to problems, people, pace and procedures. Understanding our strengths and finding ways to compensate for our inherent blind spots will go a long way to creating an environment of optimum communication.

Dan Bobinski is a certified behavioral analyst, author of the best-selling “Creating Passion-Driven Teams” and president of Workplace-Excellence.com. He travels internationally helping organizations of all shapes and sizes. Reach him at dan@workplace-excellence.com or 208-375-7606.