"Corporate culture matters. How management chooses to treat people impacts everything, for better or for worse." Simon Sinek
There's been a long prevailing idea in business management that tells us to train employees to fit our systems, rather than to adjust our systems to fit our employees. While much can be said for creating consistent processes or else making decisions on a leader-by-leader basis, we do our staff a disservice by treating them all the same.
Working conditions are not a one-size-fits-all situation, and many of the experiences that lead to a toxic office culture are borne in blanket management techniques. Rather than forcing your staff to fit a workplace mold that may make it harder for them to accomplish their work, consider making small changes to benefit the different perspectives in your office.
According to the Identity Mapping personality system, there are four different personality "ways" that are each motivated by different things. Each of the four ways thrives under different conditions; making small adjustments for the benefit of each way will ultimately create a happier, more successful workplace.
Need a primer on Identity Mapping? You can read about it and the four unique ways here. Already familiar? Then consider our tips for managing your office for each of the four ways:
Managing for the Organized Way:
- Designate a quiet work area: The Organized Way is highly productive when in a distraction-free zone; they accomplish the most when allowed to work with their nose to the grindstone. If you're able, designate a part of the office or conference room for quiet individual work, similar to a library. This is especially helpful if individuals don't have their own offices or else may be frequently interrupted or distracted by coworkers and calls.
- Have a clear calendar of team events: There's nothing an Organized Way staff member hates more than surprise team events, or worse, team meetings that are scheduled for the group but not communicated to the rest of the office. Keep a clearly marked team calendar – either physically hung on the wall or electronically – and maintain it regularly. Better yet, assign an Organized Way coworker the task of updating it, and you can rest assured it will be kept up to date.
Managing for the Action Way:
- Allow them to have creative working conditions: More than any other Way, the Action Way will seek out creative working conditions to get their job done. This may look like working outdoors on a sunny day, working remotely one day a week, or working at strange or inconsistent times of the day. Please note: this desire for creative environs is not due to a lack of interest or motivation in their work, but rather a desire for novelty and a change of pace to keep their creative juices flowing. You'll find that allowing them to be innovative with how they work will produce the highest quality product on the other end.
- Keep a (virtual) open-door policy: The Action Way is the most likely to energetically burst into a room with an exciting new idea they want to tell you about. By maintaining an open-door policy, you give the Action Way the freedom to confidently propose their thoughts and proposals. To be clear, you can maintain a virtual "open-door" (you may not be able to physically keep your office open at all times) in which there is an avenue by which they can communicate with you about their thoughts without negative repercussions.
Managing for the Logical Way:
- Don't schedule meetings back-to-back: Your Logical Way coworkers need time to process new information and work out solutions to problems. If you schedule your meetings back-to-back, the Logical Way will struggle to participate as they won't have had an adequate amount of time to process their thoughts and do research on the subjects presented. Do your best to space out your meetings, breaking up the day equally with plenty of time between each for your Logical Way staff to work on their own. They'll be better prepared for follow-up meetings and less stressed by the end of the day when doing so.
- Give them a private office space: The Logical Way is the least likely of all four ways to want to conduct their work or make calls with an audience. To get the best out of your Logical staff, give them a private work area and keep it private by not unexpectedly intruding whenever possible. Having a quiet, confidential place to work without being disturbed can be a significant help to their productivity and efficiency.
Managing for the Relationship Way:
- Designate a collaboration area: The Relationship Way thrives in teamwork and collaboration, but if they aren't given a specified place for this kind of work, they may encroach on their coworkers' private office areas to get their needs fulfilled. Rather than create friction with Logical and Organized coworkers, create a space or room used solely for collaborative brainstorming and projects.
- Schedule time for chit-chat before meetings: Your Relationship Way staff are the most socially outgoing (even when introverted) and concerned with how others feel. Their natural tendency is to start any meeting with personal chit chat, which can be problematic for the other Ways when in a time sensitive meeting. To help them feel fulfilled without annoying your other staff, schedule 10 minutes before each staff meeting for chit chat. Those who want to come early to get out their small talk can do so, and then you can start your meetings at the scheduled time for the benefit of the rest of your team. You'll find your staff are much more satisfied and less irritable during meetings when taking this small step.
Is it extra work to make these changes? Yes. But is it worth it? Absolutely. Adjusting the way your office functions and the conditions under which your staff work will produce more efficient, happier, more successful employees who engage more with the work at hand.