May 19

How to Manage Specific Character Styles Needed for Your Department

By Chuck Coker

All individuals possess mental and ethical traits that . . . make one person distinguishable from others. Most managers want employees with integrity and work ethic that distinguishes them as trustworthy, loyal, and a person who can be counted on when needed. Just because an individual has the competencies does not mean they will perform well, especially if they are operating under work-related stress from an improper job fit.

So, the question you should ask is, How do I identify, measure, and manage character to accomplish departmental goals?

In this post, we will focus on the key elements of ensuring you can do this, in a repeatable format that works. You must start by using your hiring data, or that of your HR department, to oversee, direct, and empower your employees.

Now, I am sure you are saying, I was not trained in this area, I am an employee, not a psychologist. Though this may be true, all you need are basic directions and information that is normally available but likely not being used. It is more likely tucked away in a file, collecting dust.

Let’s retrieve this information, blow off the dust, and let it improve our ROI.

Understanding who (and what) you are working with

The first thing you need to realize is that the tools used to benchmark positions and potential employees can be used for other purposes. There is data in the assessments, if you used the right ones, to begin with, that need to be mined, so you can manage each individual’s character.

You need to put your hiring tools to work! Employees across the globe agree you can measure character.

You need to use those same tools to help you manage the human factor that many marketing managers struggle with. There is NO more need to struggle when it comes to managing character than there is to understand whether a person has the competencies to fill a marketing position. All you need to do is know how to look at the data you already have (when you hired them,) identify the key components of character and what they will look like in your employee.

Here is a thought: A job should not define you, but the way you do it reveals who you are!

The character will look different in every employee, despite your perceived need for departmental consistency. But, you can have both character and consistency, if you follow these steps.

The first step is to identify and understand the components of character, and its uniqueness in employees when compared to other employees. We used the personality makeup of an average employee as an example. We will continue to use those same traits, and how they apply to the character.

Let’s consider each of the six aspects of the character (as defined by, and how to spot them in the average employee. This will show you how the process can be used for each member of your team.

  1. Trustworthiness is rarely part of the average employee’s thoughts or consideration. It is something expected because they are task-focused. They see themselves as people who strategically plan and execute projects and deadlines. Trustworthiness does not consist of emotions or feelings; it is about the journey and its results. It allows employees to see a beginning and end and defines the parameters of their success. The manager must not micromanage but should set strategic goals with an agreed-upon accountability process to make this aspect positive.
  2. Respect, while rarely addressed, is very prominent in the average employee’s mind. They are more strategic and communicative more than the average employee and want to see their efforts stand out, and be recognized. This, they believe, will gain them respect, even if their approach and/or methods may be somewhat unconventional. The manager must identify individual quirks, avoid allowing them to be an annoyance (to them and other departmental members), but illustrate how, if properly directed, they can enable personal success.
  3. Responsibility is part of an employee’s task mentality. However, most employees are more individualistic than the average employee and need help identifying how their responsibilities fit into overall departmental and corporate goals. While they will normally do not struggle with their individual responsibilities, they will need direction in tying together loose ends. Make sure your section or departmental meetings tie each employee together and highlight how one compliments or enhances the other’s position.
  4. Fairness, to the average employee, is viewed from a perspective of clarity of the task, and their available resources. They do not mind assignments, as they are a vehicle with which they can shine. However, they will object, both externally and internally, when assigned something outside their area of comfort. Under most circumstances, an employee will question available time and resources. However, when you take them outside of that comfort zone, without appropriate support systems or people, you should expect to push back. New projects should be discussed openly, and with collaborative input, to ensure there are no excuses for not meeting the expectations of their position requirements.
  5. Caring can best be expressed to employees by how their present job and task assignments will benefit them, both personally and professionally. As a manager, you should ensure each project has an element of competence they can employ from their experience and training, as well as something that will expand their abilities. Only then will they feel challenged. If possible, try to illustrate how each project moves them closer to the next strategic goal in their personal and professional lives.
  6. Citizenship will often be a challenge, especially to highly creative employees, as they see themselves as unique and don’t identify with the citizenship concept. Making your employee a citizen may be your biggest challenge, as they tend to have an entrepreneurial flair. Early in the relationship, the marketing manager must establish how the department and organization provide partnerships, which can be strategic and beneficial to the employees’ career development process. This citizenship does not need to stifle their creativity or originality but should provide foundational learning principles, in the same way, a college degree provides a foundation for greater long-term earning potential than high school education.

Individual employee personalities will obviously impact their unique expressions of character. As a manager, you will need to identify how much stronger or weaker differing aspects of their personality will impact their approach to the character, especially if you are comparing them to our Average Employee.

If you use our surveyed norms, based on one of the nine different position types, you should be able to see how each person should be managed differently from the average employee. Your best bet is to identify key differences with a Human Capital Strategist, to ensure the job benchmarks and descriptions fit with the people you have in each position. If you do not have access to one, perhaps your HR person can help.

About the author 

Chuck Coker

For more than 30 years, Chuck has focused his career on people's development. He has implemented proprietary Personal Formation, Human Capital, Talent Management, and incentive-based programs across a broad scope of Fortune Companies, regional organizations, and educational institutions.


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