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An Interview with Carol Ritberger, Ph.D.

1. What does Managing People...What's Personality Got to Do With It? offer that the hundreds of other management books haven't already said?

The responsibility of a manger is to accomplish goals or tasks through the efforts of others. Typically, the focus of management books is directed to the methodology of communication, training, motivation, guidance, discipline, recognition and rewarding of subordinates. This book focuses on understanding the inherent human nature that makes us all different - personality. It explores the fundamental difference between how each of the four basic personality types hears, interprets, communicates, responds and interacts with each other. It answers the why's and why not's behind human behavior rather than the how's, when's, and what's found in most management books. It reveals how understanding what makes people tick is the difference-maker between a productive working relationship and an ineffective relationship between manager and subordinate.

The guidelines, reference information and detailed descriptions of each personality contained in this book compliment the management books that deal with goal-setting, team-building, motivation and managing and the technical aspects of getting the job done through people.

2. Who can benefit from reading this book?

Every manager faces the challenge of communicating both with those working for him or her and with those for whom they work. It's a bi-directional issue. Any breakdown in the chain of communication from the top to the bottom of an organization results in loss of productivity, opportunity or resource. Understanding the elements of personality will benefit equally each person in the hierarchy of an organization.

3. What's the fundamental reason that managers fail?

Failure to understand and to communicate what needs to be done, why it needs to be done and how it needs to be done can be a multi-level shortcoming in any organization. It makes little difference at which level the failure occurs, the result is the same. If the objective is to achieve the goals to meet the vision or the expectation to accomplish the purpose of the organization, then each person in that organization needs to know how they fit into whole picture.

Management failure can result from a wide range of causes. The most subtle and pervasive may well be the lack of understanding of the differences in personality, which impacts every element in the communication cycle. Lacking that knowledge can place a manager in the position of driving round pegs into square holes on a daily basis. It just won't work effectively and productively.

4. Can a one-size-fits-all management style work in today's world?

Just as employees vary, managers vary by personality type. Each managerial style is a function of that manager's personality and therefore, is a direct reflection of how that manager makes decisions, communicates, and handles the various other elements of management. Should a manager function from their individual idiosyncratic personality regardless of the personality types of those being managed, the results will be less than desirable for all parties.

In today's work environment, the competition for sound, productive employees is growing increasingly important. Training is more complex and expensive, opportunities for qualified workers are generally more plentiful and changing jobs is no longer considered a negative on a resume. It's therefore more important than ever for managers to recognize and accept the reality that each employee must be recognized as and understood as an individual. Retaining qualified employees is a key managerial task. Knowing personality differences is a key step in this process.

5. What is the reason for using color to identify the four different personality types on the job?

Color is neutral and it's commonly used in our vocabulary to describe a wide variety of objects, emotions, and reactions. When using color to describe the differences in personality it becomes a non-threatening way to identify, understand, and discuss differences without either party feeling labeled, boxed-in or compromised. The four colors themselves don't represent favoritism toward a particular hue rather they're symbolically used to differentiate between the four predictable personality behaviors. They could have as easily been four symbols or four letters or four numbers. Each, in that case, would carry more of an emotional connection than the neutrality of color. An additional benefit of using color is that it's more readily remembered and identified with than most any other type of designation.

6. Why should a manager be sensitive to each person's personality type?

As different as each of the four personality types are, not recognizing that in the workplace creates a constant level of disharmony and dissatisfaction. Atypically, managers manage according to their own personality dictates or as they were managed earlier in their careers. Unfortunately, what we first learn becomes the foundation for how we subsequently conduct ourselves. Sensitivity to personality type isn't inherent in our makeup. It's learned behavior that's incorporated into the successful manager's skill set.

7. Why should a manager be sensitive to each person's personality type?

The differences in personality may be analogous to operating different vehicles of transportation. It may not work to apply the same approach to driving a passenger car, an 18-wheeler, a bulldozer or an Indy racecar. While each has fundamental similarities, wheels, an engine a steering mechanism, brakes and a seat, they each require a totally different and unique approach or an unpleasant result will certainly occur. The driver, if required to operate each one of them on a daily basis will need to think carefully the operating requirements, the differences in throttle responses and braking time and the differences in the uniqueness of each one.

The same analogy holds true with people. Managerial effectiveness can be measured by the accomplishments of his or her subordinates and subsequently, the organization.

8. Will understanding personality help me work more effectively with my manager?

Each person involved in life gets managed and manages. On the job it's a clear delineation of who manages who. Being managed is as demanding as managing. Perhaps even more so, because success at any level in a hierarchical organization is dependent upon understanding what's to be done, when and how it's to be done and how it will be measured. The whole system flounders and fails when there is a break in the chain.

Even those at the top of the chart must understand the expectations of investors, boards, voters, auditors or any number of those responsible for measurements and oversight. Someone or something manages everyone. Life is more satisfying and enjoyable when everyone is on the same wavelength.

9. What are the significant differences between the four personality types in the work environment?

  • Reds are marvelous at following precedents, making and abiding by rules and procedures and keeping the wheels of industry turning consistently and predictably.
  • Oranges are the oil that keeps the mechanism of the enterprise moving smoothly and sensitively. They support, they attend to details, and they maintain a high level of individual awareness.
  • Greens champion and support the mission with enthusiasm and zeal and bring an element of creativity to any enterprise. They're the first to jump on a bandwagon and the last to live on past precedent.
  • Yellows invest their time and energy in searching soft spots in the organization and seeking ways to strengthen or improve them. They live in a constant state of low-level anxiety if the organization isn't functioning at the level they perceive it should be functioning at.

10. Does the Personality Approach Management concept apply outside of the work environment?

The concept applies to life. Everyone is given the opportunity to manage all aspects of their personal, financial, social, and family lives. A case-in-point: If you don't manage your finances and miss a couple of car payments, what happens to your car? Or, if you don't manage your time and are continually late for work, what happens to your job?

In life, everyone gets to interact with all four of the personality colors in a variety of circumstances. How effectively we live our lives and how much stress we create or experience depends significantly on how well we understand the differences in personality colors.

The reality of life is that you either manage or are managed. The choice is yours.

11. Why should I change the way that I manage? Fitting in is the employee's responsibility, not mine. If they don't like it here, they can go work somewhere else.

If you don't, they will.