Leading Difficult People

One Powerful Solution to Leading Difficult People

A common question I receive from those I coach is how to manage difficult team members, including millennials. The reason this question arises frequently is simple: leading people is hard! Every individuals is unique, responds to different styles, prefers different communication, and more. After working with leaders for years, one powerful solution exists to help you lead a challenging team member better: learning their values.

Values and motives are what a person sees as important to them, therefore dictating how they approach life, problems, and others. A person who values camaraderie and teamwork will create a team which a high emphasis on these values. The person who values new ideas and recognition will naturally build a culture around them. The concept is rather straightforward, while learning to utilize it to one’s advance can be difficult.

The challenge occurs when a leader’s values do not match one or more members of their team. I highly value the client’s experience, wanting them to walk away positively, regardless if I could help or not. If one of my team member’s value efficiency and productivity, the extra time I give to a potential client that doesn’t become a physical contract may cause tension in our relationship. The root challenge is that I value different outcomes than my client. How can we embrace our own values while respecting and supporting the values of another?

After trying a plethora of assessments throughout my career, I’ve found a powerful tool to help me understand the motives and values of my team members and clients. This tool is called, (surprise surprise) the Motives, Values, and Preferences Inventory (MVPI) from Hogan Assessments. The tool utilizes ten categories to represent what motivations and values a person lives.

Why are motives and values important? Motives manifest in four key ways. First, drivers or things that motivate you. Second, fit or how well you would fit into a culture that values similar or different things. Thirdly, leadership style or the culture you would create for you team. Lastly, unconscious biases or how you view perceive what is valuable in experiences and others.

A recent client was struggling to connect with the needs of two team members and felt that he continually missed their expectations of leadership. Everyone on his team took the MVPI and discussed their finding individually with the leader, and then as a team. The team walked away from the meeting feeling more connected and better understood by one another. The leader started looking for ways to support each individual specific to their personality and motivators.  The thoughtful and empathic discussion resulted in better team cohesion and a more effective working relationship with each other.

Inspired by the discussion, one of the team members coordinated an event that she poured her heart and soul into because it was a worthy cause.  The leader made a point to be attend the event, be supportive throughout, and affirm the amazing job coordinating the event. Her face beamed with happiness both during and after the event, for she lead something that fulfilled her value of altruism and received recognition for a job well done.

This example may seem small to some, and it marked a significant change in my client’s leadership. Learning what motivates a team provides a leader with powerful knowledge on how to inspire terrific work. Assigning projects that fit their values and protecting them as best as possible from drudgery work increases employee satisfaction, productivity, and a key topic for businesses, profitability. For when leaders and team members function from their strengths and values, the quality of work naturally climbs.

Take a moment to think about yourself and your team members. Do you know what motivates them? If you need some assistance understanding your team, a tool like the MVPI could greatly increase your team’s function. Send me an email to start a conversation on how you can empower your team.

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