The Power of Personality Management

Slalom Consultant Carl Manello

Carl Manello is a Solution Lead for Program & Project Management based in Chicago who enjoys exploring how to tightly couple the art and science of project delivery with business operations.

Co-written by Stacey Campbell

[Genius] is personality with a penny’s worth of talent. Error which chances to rise above the commonplace
–Pablo Picasso

While we may not all be geniuses, whether in the arts or sciences, we can understand that personality is key to making things happen. Personality impacts the management of people. People management is one of the under-rated but often most needed skills for delivery effectiveness. It is critical to understand that without the participation of other people, a project manager (for example) is incapable of doing anything! And yet, without the backing of an education in psychology, what is an average PM to do? With so many different behaviors, expectations, and perspectives, a PM may be lost trying to navigate the world of…people.

Slalom Consulting's Stacey Campbell

Stacey Campbell is a business consultant with Slalom Consulting based in Chicago who is impassioned about how behavioral sciences and strides toward quality impact business.

To start, one can decompose the challenge to easier tasks. Instead of trying to define every possible personality and interaction approach, one can focus on different behavior styles. This approach is one of the key components of a stakeholder analysis and can lay the groundwork for dealing with stakeholders throughout a project. Due to the subtly of assessing personalities, and the lack of psychological training, behavioral style impacts analysis is frequently unintentionally overlooked. However, when personality is not considered in an approach to business, numerous adverse effects may occur:

  • Absence of commitment
  • Unaligned organization and project goals
  • Project diffusion and sabotage
  • Spreading of employee aggravation
  • Communication break downs
  • “Team” work in silos

As you begin on your next project, think about doing a formalized stakeholder analysis. Or, better understand your stakeholder communities as you begin to drive effective methods of risk identification.

Sponsors and Leaders:
These people are driven by having fun and are extraverted and push for action. They are inspirational leaders that are charismatic, social, and enthusiastic. You can expect their confidence and energized optimism. This leader is a fearless risk-taker that will make quick instinctual decisions; they trust their staff and encourage creativity and innovation.

Conscientious
This leader is introverted and task-oriented. They are an analytical/critical thinker that focuses on attention to detail. They tend to be risk-averse and quiet and are even-tempered and dispassionate. Although they are diplomatic their high standards are focused around perfectly organized rules.

Dominant
This person is direct and self-assured. They tend to be aggressive and forceful as well as competitive. They may anger quickly and often are hard to work for as they are impatient and at times forceful. This leader may break the rules if the end justifies the means.

Stakeholders and Project Teams:

Driver
This person is objective-focused. Their communication style is getting to the point and making decisions quickly. They have high energy and are hard working. They are motivated by success and do not flinch at conflict.

Expressive
This resource is a story teller and is a good motivator and communicator. Watch out as they can tend to stretch the truth and leave out important facts or details. They also would rather talk than execute or make decisions.

Amiable
This person is kind-hearted and will avoid conflict. They thrive on relating to other people and therefore can appear wishy-washy and struggle with making decisions. This person is highly sensitive and makes their decisions based on feelings. They are driven mostly by feeling like they belong and operate best in a supportive role.

Analytical
This team member is detailed oriented. They rarely make decisions without all the facts. They work best with data and information and can be highly critical of others. Although perceptive they are pessimistic by nature.

Masterminds
This is the expert. They study others and often appear to be a combination of several personalities. They are consistently looking for solutions to problems. They are great at building and developing systems, unfortunately this only accounts for 10% of our society.

When you start your next project, try to identify all the key stakeholders or stakeholder groups. Determine if you can assign one of the above personality types to each of the individuals (or groups). Include a personality impact assessment as a tool for yourself. Outline different reactions that each personality type may have to the project and the methods you will use to address their particular needs. Your identification methods will help you with expectations management, ensuring that you understand what is needed from communications and organizational change management…before you need it.

Understanding how you will manage people may not make you a genius, but will certainly help you rise above the commonplace.

Slalom Consulting’s Chicago office
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About Carl M. Manello
I am Slalom Consulting's Practice Lead for Delivery Effectiveness. I work to support organizations' capability and delivery maturity -- not just IT organizations -- so that their initiatives run more predictably, efficiently and provide the best results.

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