This blog post is part of our Truity at Work series for those who are new to people management. In these posts, we’re creating useful content for managers and teams alike, helping you to understand personality, improve communication, and navigate conflict and change with ease. For an overview of the series, start with our introductory post here.
The first time we step into a managerial role, something shifts within us. No matter if we are managing one person or 10, we have a desire to do better—whether that’s to increase productivity, manage people differently or to shape the organization in a new way. There is something we want to change or improve.
One of the most important, and influential, relationships people have at work is with their direct manager. Most people want the same things from their manager—clear direction, engaging work, for their contributions to be heard, and for their work to be appreciated. However, while every employee wants the same things, the form in which they want them differs.
This is where personality models can help. As a new manager, understanding personality can help you see your biases. It can help you understand the kind of manager you aspire to be, the type of manager others need you to be and, most importantly, how to walk the path between the two.
The key here is to be yourself but learn to meet people halfway.
For example, you may want to be the kind of manager you wish there were more of, or the kind of manager you have always wanted but never got. In becoming this person, your management style would resonate with people who are just like you. But the rest of your team might struggle.
Different models of personality will reveal different strengths and biases. In this blog post, we are going to use the two letters in the middle of your Briggs and Myers type code—ST, SF, NT, NF—to help us understand how you might manage in a way that works for everyone.
Start by understanding yourself
When you think about the kind of manager you aspire to be, it will likely be something around one of four themes.
Intuitive-Feelers (NFs) want to encourage their team and team members to be the best they can be. You will want to ensure everyone has a career development plan and the team has a clear sense of the values you want them to align around.
Sensor-Feelers (SFs) want their team to feel supported. That might mean doing the day-to-day work alongside them, ensuring the team has any tools or resources they need. Or it might mean aligning the team around its purpose of helping others, whether that’s within the organization or its customers.
Intuitive-Thinkers (NTs) focus on strategy, ensuring everyone on the team knows what the bigger picture is and how all the pieces fit together. They prefer for people to work independently, being individually responsible for tasks and knowing the limits of their capabilities.
Sensor-Thinkers (STs) want their teams focused on the bottom line. They want to know time, cost and method—when will it be done? How much will it cost? How will you do it? They prefer their team to work efficiently so resources are never wasted.
Each of these managers will interact differently with team members. They will ask different questions, communicate differently and emphasize different things. You undoubtedly will feel uncomfortable with the other three management styles, and think they are overlooking something fundamental.
That’s a good starting point.
Acknowledge your style, your values and beliefs. And know that every organization needs them.
Then you can work on recognizing that you may need to take a different approach in order to get the best out of each and every member of your team
Then work on understanding others
Once you know your style, and hence your managerial bias, you can start to appreciate the contributions from team members who use a different style. This allows you to bring in elements of other styles as part of your managerial toolkit.
When talking with team members about their tasks and projects you may need to adopt one of these styles:
Intuitive-Feelers (NFs) need to feel heard and want you to listen carefully to them, sharing information as it relates to the options they are working through. They will want to meet the needs of all involved without getting into too much detail. They want to have a relationship with you based on harmony.
Sensor-Feelers (SFs) need practical information about how to support people. They want you to listen carefully, provide the facts and share how this has worked for other people. They want to know you personally, so look for, and highlight, things you have in common.
Intuitive-Thinkers (NTs) want to respect you and will be business-like at first. They need to know you are competent at your job, and they want you to know that they are competent at theirs. Discuss the overall objective with them but ask them for options on different ways to achieve it. Then agree on a goal and an initial deadline.
Sensor-Thinkers (STs) want you to be brief and clear, providing specific, relevant facts and details about the task at hand. They will need a practical reason why this task matters. Try to be as sequential with information as possible, and provide a suggested method, deadline and plan for completing the task.
Hopefully now you can see why different managers suit different people! However, you don't have to pretend to be a different type to be a successful manager. You just need to realize that people perform at their best when their needs are met, and those needs differ quite a lot.
First steps as a new manager
It can be a lot to take in at first, so don’t try to be everything to everyone on your first day. Start by noticing the questions you ask in meetings and the kind your team asks you in return. The clearer you become about your own style, the easier it will be to start recognizing others.
Ready to get started? The Truity at Work Platform allows team leaders to easily administer our assessments to individual employees or whole teams—no setup fees or training required.