Hands Stacked

Livin’ the Dream: A Drama-Free Workplace

Part 1: I Hate to Tell You, But It’s Your People

Do you dream of a drama-free workplace? One without personality conflicts? Or emotional turmoil?

Experience has convinced me that all workplace issues are usually people issues. And it doesn’t matter what industry or what problem—if you’re experiencing a technology issue, it’s usually because one of your people didn’t code something right; If you’re experiencing a cash flow issue, it’s usually because one of your people didn’t understand something or made a decision based something one of your other people didn’t understand.

Therefore, it’s critical for you, as a manager, to understand people—what motivates them and how they get things done—so you can set them up for success.

The Five Finger People Method

The Five Finger People Model

A long time ago, I learned a model for categorizing people by likening them to the fingers on a hand. In this model, there are five kinds of people:

  • Thumb People – These people are all about thumbs up” and “thumbs down.” Always judging, they like to declare thing as good and bad and their main motivator is how any action they might take will make them look to others—in other words, how others mill judge them.
  • Pointer Finger People – These people concern themselves with status and competition. They always want to be “Number One” and anything preventing that, they point and blame other people for.
  • Middle Finger People – These people are looking for power and autonomy and don’t want to be told what to do or how to do it. They’re represented by the middle finger for the obvious reason…
  • Ring Finger People – These people focus on relationships. They’re motivated by their connections with others and how they interact and bond with the people around them.
  • Pinky Finger People – These people concentrate their attention on fairness. They’re all about quality and equality. Justice-oriented, they’re the ones concerned about rules being applied uniformly to all and motivated to fight for social causes.
DISC Model

A Scientific Approach

The Hand Model is, well, handy. But given my background and interests, I wanted to be able to take a more quantifiable and scientific approach. For that reason, I got my TTI certification (https://ttidisc.ttisi.com/).

TTI employs everything from brain imaging studies to years of psychology research to determine people’s natural inclinations and chart them. Their methods provide a way to evaluate and quantify the elements of an individual’s personality such as behaviors, motivations, soft skills, ability to collaborate, and how they tend to perceive what goes on around them. By providing a snapshot of such elements, TTI helps create an image of the individual and predict his or her strengths and weaknesses in the future. What this does for you as a manager—a manager of people—is help you understand where each individual on your team is “coming from.” With this knowledge, you have a better idea of who each person is and how to communicate with each in a way that makes him or her feel understood.

How does TTI do this for you? Using DISC.

DISC stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance—the four personality traits it measures. DISC can help individuals—and you, their manager—understand how they respond to conflict, what motivates them, what causes them stress, and how they approach solving problems. Understanding your team’s various dispositions this way, you can manage more effectively and improve working relationships by recognizing the communications needs of the individuals your team to facilitate better teamwork.

TTI then helps you further assess for what they call “The 12 Driving Forces.” These identify your team members’ motivations along a continuum of 12 drivers or motivators:

  • Instinctive – focuses on knowledge and is a low theoretical motivator (learns to apply what they learn)
  • Intellectual – focuses on knowledge and is a high theoretical motivator (learns for the sake of learning)
  • Selfless – focuses on utility and is a low utilitarian motivator (works for the greater good)
  • Resourceful – focuses on utility and is a high utilitarian motivator (wants a return on work efforts)
  • Objective – focuses on surroundings and is a low aesthetic motivator (makes decisions based on logic and facts)
  • Harmonious – focuses on surroundings and is a high aesthetic motivator (works in harmony with surroundings)
  • Intentionalfocuses on others and is a low social motivator (provides assistance for a specific purpose)
  • Harmonious – focuses on others and is a high social motivator (wants to better the world)
  • Collaborative – focuses on power and is a low individualistic motivator (one of the team)
  • Commanding – focuses on power and is a high individualistic motivator (seeks control)
  • Receptive – focuses on methodologies and is a low traditional motivator(looks for alternatives)
  • Structured – focuses on methodologies and is a high traditional motivator (prefers to do things the “right” way)

These drivers help you identify who’s motivated by a desire to be a giver vs. who’s driven by status; who wants to stay in the background and who needs to push to the front of the group and take charge; who needs to get something back for every effort and who does things just to be helpful, and so on. Be clear, most everybody as at least some of all of these drivers. But by assessing your team and identifying their principle drivers, you can see where everyone general falls, and then use that to facilitate a discussion about what each of your team finds important, and how understanding that helps identify the best ways for them to communicate with one another.

Why Do All This?

What I’m inviting you to do is think about these personality traits and motivators and not only how they apply as you tackle decisions, but also how you can figure them into your management of issues. If your organization is entangled in a lot of stress and drama, most likely it’s a people issue, where one individual’s personality type or drivers/motivations are dominating the rest of his or her team. And understanding this can provide you the insight to make the shifts needed to resolve the issues in a healthy way.

Next Time: But I Have Good News—Structure Can Fix Your Drama (People) Problem