Implications of Individual Differences in Your Employees

Individual personality differences in your employees, and their differential responses to the support and structure you provide, is fundamentally a great asset for your organization.  But a small percentage of your workers who are very different – ones who are developmentally impaired – will be major headaches for your organization.

Different personal styles and skills are needed for different positions in the organization.  Carrying out your corporate mission involves job functions that not only have different skills, but also require quite different personalities.  And many of those jobs require emotional capabilities as well as intellectual ones.

For instance, financial positions require people who like to attend to business and possess a facility with numbers. More often than not these detail-oriented folks are not your best interpersonal relaters.  Other jobs require a high degree of interpersonal sensitivity and emotional intelligence, such as those in social services.  Some positions require a fair amount of technical expertise.  There is no one optimal person for all the jobs in your organization.

In my consulting I see that most businessmen have this aspect of our sixth principle clear in their minds.  They understand the critical need to find the right roles for people.  They don’t try to make people what they aren’t, but find the right jobs that fit peoples’ strengths.

But it is not always understood that this principle also means that diversity is a key to organizational success.  Diversity is often misunderstood as a good thing to do because it is politically correct or fair.  It is fair, but it is also what is needed to solve complex problems.  Organizations will thrive if there are diverse ideas, from a diversity of employees, for solutions to problems and responsiveness to customers.

Finally, understanding the implications of individual differences will allow you to identify and manage the small percentage of employees who struggle to fit into an organizational culture.  You’ve met these employees:  they tend not to follow rules, make excuses for failed performance, argue when corrected, are counterproductive, and require an inordinate amount of time in supervision.

More on utilizing and managing individual differences in my coming posts.

Tom DeMaio, PhD

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