I recently heard behavioral analyst Steve Sisler speak at an event for the Colorado Chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Prior to the event, he asked us all to take two tests: a personality assessment tool that measures dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness — or DISC profile — and the Innermetrix Values Index, which measures individual drive and motivation.
I’ve always been skeptical of these types of tests, but there was something about Sisler that made him seem credible. He picked a few people out of the crowd and asked to see their DISC graph. Rather than state the obvious, he quickly pointed out aspects of their behavior that shaped their entrepreneurial efforts. He even guessed that someone was an avid poker player, just by looking at his graph. Below are the three main things I learned from his talk that CEOs need to stop doing to their employees ASAP (or risk holding the entire company back):
- Stop thinking about your employees as if they’re like you. They’re not. They’re not motivated the same way as you are and they don’t process things the same way you process things. Sisler said, “We don’t see people as they are, we see them as we are.” Individuals are all wired uniquely, and it’s up to you to discover and understand exactly what makes each of your people tick. Jason Eckenroth, CEO and Founder of ShipCompliant, which provides regulatory compliance and supply chain automation for the U.S. alcohol industry, had this to say about his experiences working with Sisler: “I have begun to see people for their nature and to judge less if their approach is different than the approach I would take. My company would not exist if it were filled just with my clones. Instead we have a great mix of booster rockets, maintainers, safety and project managers.”
- Stop rewarding employees the same way you want to be rewarded.
As the CEO, its easy to try to reward your employees in the way that you’d like to be rewarded. That’s natural. But unfortunately, it doesn’t always work. Unique individuals need unique rewards. For instance, I’d rather make ten thousand cold calls than give someone a performance review. It is just really difficult for me. Besides all the obvious reasons why it’s important to give regular performance reviews, Sisler said that some employees crave this kind of direct, ongoing feedback. They need to hear aloud that they’re doing a great job. But for others, it terrifies them. It’s up to you to know which of your employees need which kind of feedback.
- Don’t match a person to a position; match a personality type to a role. We often sign up for jobs we’re not well-suited for (such as me giving performance reviews). It’s essential to understand not just what your people are capable of, but how to put them in a role that’s going to allow them to be the most naturally effective. Eckenroth told me that because he started understanding his people better, he was able move people to the right positions and approach them with greater empathy. “It is unnerving to have someone so easily point out your strengths and weaknesses but this actually empowered me. I could more easily manage against that weakness. It helped me quickly focus on my team member’s strengths, and to quit pushing them in areas that only highlighted their weaknesses.”
How do you quantify the value in understanding your people? What drives them? What bothers them? What makes them operate? What kinds of things do they need to hear to know they’re on the right or wrong track? If you need help figuring it out, you can find more about Steve Sisler here.
Sarah Schupp is the CEO and founder of UniversityParent.com, the #1 site for college parents to find everything they need to help their student succeed.