by: Joan Marques
Branding, type-establishment, character-determination, name it whatever you like, we are practicing it all the time. Admitted, in business the skill of developing a rapid insight could be invaluable. Imagine how great it would be if we would all develop the ability to make a snapshot of every job-applicant, in order to see where his/her strengths and weaknesses were? Well, the positive side, according to the lecture I received today is, that we already do that – unconsciously. We “brand” people the moment we see them. However, the negative side remains that we don’t always execute the branding process in the right way. It is this very branding – this first moment snapshot – that guides our approach toward another person. It is branding that makes us extra open to some and overly defensive toward others. There are some people that we just can’t stand, no matter what they do… and others that just can’t go wrong with us, no matter how often we will receive warnings from third parties! As I also learned tonight, we tend to ignore those warnings, and sometimes even their realization, because we don’t like to admit to ourselves that our first impression was wrong?
Another funny thing I observed tonight is, that people will easily tell you, when asked, that they prefer to hire employees that are their opposites, “so that performance gaps can be filled.” This, as we all know by now, is just an idealistic dream, a song that we know by heart and therefore sing so well; yet don’t understand the words of. For in reality, it has been proven time and again that no one really goes for diversity, because we have an inborn tendency to stick with whatever is familiar to us, and that is…right!… the person with most of the characteristics we know best: the ones we own ourselves!
But in case we, as potential leaders, really want to establish an ideal work-environment with the necessary diversity in characteristics, backgrounds, and qualities; how can we, make a mental snapshot to be sure that we’re hiring the right people given our current team of workers? Well, easy: if you know what you have, you also know what you lack, and ? therefore – need to find. If you know about yourself, for instance, that you are a fast-paced, goal-oriented decision-maker (let’s call this type 1), you want to get an analytical and stabilizing element to balance your team. People with persuasive tendencies (type 2) usually don’t mind showing their emotions, while the type 1 individuals ? the ones with controlling personalities – will hide their feelings and just go for the job? fast! People with stabilizing skills (type 3) will seek to solve interpersonal problems. The ones with analytical skills (type 4) will review and re-review the process endlessly before shooting it to execution. Interestingly, most people have 2 types represented within them: a dominant and an underlying type. The dominant one is the one you represent, while the underlying one determines how you get your results.
It’s an interesting skill for leaders to look into. And an eye opener for people who thought they knew themselves for decades. However, a word of caution is in place here, no matter what personality test you take, remember that these are mere snapshots that are subject to change through time and in different situations: one can, for instance, predominantly be a controller at work, yet more of a persuader in the private domains of life.
Branding people on basis of a first impression is therefore never a good idea, even though it’s hardly preventable. The only thing we can do, now that we are aware of this tendency within us, is to keep an open mind for 2nd, 3rd, 4th and even 5th impressions. Sounds reasonable? I thought so too!