Tailoring your management style to the individual personality types of your workers offers a feedyard rewards in workplace efficiency and harmony.

How much more effective would your operation be if everyone understood exactly what everyone else was saying all the time?

Often, a simple crash course in communications with staff can have an immediate, significant impact on the level of understanding and camaraderie. The concepts are simple.

The Motor

People have two elements that determine their focus and direction. One is best described as a “motor,” the other as a “compass.”

The motor determines whether a person is a fast- or slow-paced individual. Some individuals think, talk and work quickly. Others are more methodical in their approach. The other element, a person's compass, gravitates him/her to either focus on people or on the task at hand.

Understanding this provides insight into what the employee will respond to. For example, a fast-paced, task-oriented person might only need basic instruction to complete a task. Staying on schedule may be important to this individual. If they spend too much time receiving instruction it will throw them off their routine.

They like a challenge and need to have a certain level of control in their daily schedule and duties. Making decisions tends to be easy, and they will take charge if no one else seems to be in authority. This is a “dominant” personality style.

Slower-paced, task-orientated workers will be more methodical in their approach to duties. The instructions given them need to reflect their speed and focus. They like more detail and want the logical reasons for any changes in procedures. They appreciate value and quality in their answers.

These folks thrive in an environment that needs strict attention to detail with specific rules and procedures to follow. This is a “conscientious” personality style.

The Compass

Now, if we point the compass toward people orientation, interaction with others is more important. The faster-paced, people-oriented individual needs regular contact with other staff to stay focused. They prefer an environment with significant variety in their workday. Without enough human interaction, they'll talk your ear off every chance they get.

They may have trouble staying focused, but these employees are very valuable and accomplish a significant amount of work when properly directed. These “inspirational” personalities keep the workplace enjoyable, always in motion and show a sincere desire to please us. They need recognition and approval on a consistent basis.

Finally, slower-paced, people-oriented employees tend to be focused on the people and livestock around them. They like to make sure that everything is being dealt with on a fair basis. We will regularly hear them ask if we discussed any changes with everyone else that could be affected.

These folks thrive on caring for livestock that need special attention. They may not be as quick, but they are sincere, steady workers who get the job finished correctly. People with this “stable” personality type need security, consistency and a systematic approach in their work environment. They need the personal support of employers and sincere appreciation on a regular basis.

Personality Profiling

These four personality groups provide a framework to begin understanding people. No one is purely one specific type personality. They're all blends of the elements of each.

Here are some tips on using this basic knowledge in our daily interactions with staff members.

  • If someone tends to talk slow, match their speech pattern. The speed of their speech tells us they process vocabulary very methodically. If we talk fast, they won't hear what we're saying. Along with the speed of their speech, match their volume and tonality.

  • Listen closely to the words people use and use those words as you speak with them. If they focus on facts, numbers, form and function, do the same. If they tend toward people, events and relationships, incorporate these areas into your discussions.

Improving Communication

Here are a couple of other hints.

  • Some people need periods of silence in a conversation to collect their thoughts and provide a quality answer. If you don't get a response in seven seconds, rephrase your question.

  • Smile and lean forward a bit. People who lean forward pay more attention and appear to be listening more intently.

  • Match the level of eye contact of the person. Direct eye contact in a face-to-face conversation makes some people uncomfortable. The best thing to do is match their methodology they'll feel more at ease.

Don Tyler is a private business relationships consultant. He can be reached at Profitable Solutions, Clarks Hill, IN, 765/523-3259, or e-mail dhtyler@quixnet.net.


Building Employee Relations

Gary Darnall is working to improve his feeding operation, and it isn't just in the form of concrete and steel. He's working on improving the way he works with his employees, and the way employees work with each other.

Darnall, Harrisburg, NE, manager of a family-owned, 20,000-head-capacity feedyard near Scottsbluff, knows the value of good employees. So, he recently invested in the services of personal relationships consultant Don Tyler of Clarks Hill, IN.

Tyler was invited to Darnall Feedlot for a half-day session on personality profiles. Tyler's visit was sponsored in part by Connie Quinn, Chadron, NE, and Elanco Animal Health.

Darnall says he sees a payoff from the time and money invested. The people here really started thinking, and the overall attitude of everyone on the place has improved, he says.

Like most feedyard owners, Darnall views his 15 full-time and five part-time employees and employee relations as one of his major challenges. Good help is tough to find and keep. The other challenge is keeping the employees' spouses happy.

Turnover in hired help is going to happen no matter what you do, notes Darnall. But, turnover costs money, and that's why we're working to keep good people here.

Darnall figures the loss of an employee can cost up to a year's wages, depending on the position.

You can invest that much in training and education, and we ask these guys to carry a lot of responsibility. They leave, and you have to start all over. It gets very costly.

But, everyone in an operation like Darnall Feedlot gets along better when they can sit down and look objectively at themselves and each other.

The best thing I can do is create an atmosphere where people feel good about themselves and about each other, adds Darnall. Don's session helped me more than anything.

Darnall adds that sometimes it doesn't take too much to create an air of cooperation among people in a business. He says a little communication and a little understanding of someone else's personality can go a long way.

It's also something that carries over into our family relationships and makes life easier for everyone, he says.

So, as Gary Darnall and his crew pour concrete and weld steel to expand their feeding operation to 25,000-head, they're also working on a foundation for the business's human relationships.

It's an investment that's as important maybe more important than any structure they can construct.

By Clint Peck


8 Meeting Motivators

Want to make the most of meetings and motivate your employees? Here are some tips:

  1. Give each participant a lead role on an agenda item. No one should sit back and observe for a full meeting. You need to convert passive observers into active and awake contributors.

  2. Avoid serving sleep-inducing meals before a meeting (creamy pastas, chocolate cheese cake). Replace them with light, healthy snacks. Alcoholic drinks should definitely be out.

  3. Try stand-up meetings from time to time, with no tables, no chairs, and no sitting on the floor. You will be amazed at how much time will be saved.

  4. Schedule short breaks frequently. There should be no more than one-and-a-half to two hours of continuous sitting. Remember: The human mind will absorb only as much as the human seat will endure.

  5. Call on silent members to comment instead of waiting for them to raise their hands. John, you have unique expertise in this area. Can you comment? This requires participants to stay alert.

  6. Diversify your discussion activities to move participants away from static positions. Example: Break a large group into sub-groups with each handling a key task and then reporting back.

  7. Prevent rambling and monotonous statements by asking members to communicate concisely. Our time is tight. Is it reasonable to ask you to limit your comments to about two minutes each?

  8. Ask speakers to make their presentations interactive and avoid protracted lectures. Ensure that they include interesting examples and case studies to keep everyone interested.

  9. By Eli Mina

Eli Mina is the author of The Complete Handbook of Business Meetings (ISBN# 0814405606), published July 2000 by the American Management Association. Order by calling AMACOM Books at 800/714-6395 (cost is $29.95). Mina is a professional meeting chairman, speaker and trainer. He can be reached by email at eli@elimina.com or call 604/730-0377. His Web site is www.elimina.com.