Bring Out the Best in Your Employees, Based on Their Brain Type

Understanding how your workers think and approach tasks will help you effectively adjust your management to deliver optimal results.

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By Michael Cooper

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When managing others, one size does not fit all. Tailoring your leadership style to complement different brain types and respecting the individual differences of those you're managing will bring out the best in them.

Being able to identify someone's brain type will help you understand what motivates them, what fears drive them, how they process information, how they respond to stress and more. When you know this information, it's easy to adjust how you approach each type to ensure they can do their best work and deliver optimal results.

Controllers + Managers are motivated by control, results and prestige. When managing this type, be sure to frame assignments in terms of achievement, competition or how their work will benefit the company. They fear losing control, so frame requests to keep them feeling in control.

Related: 8 Ways to Effectively Lead Entrepreneurial Employees

Instead of dictating exactly how you want something done, tell them the result you're looking for and a deadline, and then allow them to figure out how to efficiently achieve the results. This type easily prioritizes tasks based on the most important benefit or outcome, so allow them to prioritize their work themselves.

Innovators + Influencers are motivated by flexibility and recognition. They crave freedom and are OK with breaking the rules a bit. As long as the rules aren't legal or ethical ones, give them space to operate as freely as possible. Frequent check-ins may feel overbearing, so check-in informally about once a week to ask their opinion on how things are progressing toward the results or deadline.

You can expect this type to procrastinate and work on multiple projects at once. They prefer to work on what's new, unique, easy or fun, so be sure to prioritize work for them and give a hard deadline that includes review time. Minimize repetitive work, as this type gets bored with details (though they often obsess about certain details). These employees usually crave respect, so be sure to point out what they do well, how you appreciate their ideas and how they're making a difference for your business.

Nurturers + Harmonizers want to be included and help others. They fear being excluded. Be sure to include them in meetings where decisions impact their work. To bring out their best, invite them to help instead of saying, "I need you to do this." Avoid being pushy or aggressive, especially if you are a Manager + Controller type, because they resent being pushed around, even though they won't typically push back.

Related: 9 Ways to Manage Underperforming Employees

This type likes routine, so be sure to map out current and future assignments, rather than peppering them with requests all the time. Be sure to let them know who each assignment is for, because "who" is their most important information need and that information will affect how they approach an assignment.

Suggest collaborators for this type, as they often need interaction to feel satisfied. If you're not getting the best work from this type, be sure to spend some time repairing your own relationship with them -- they will do great work when they feel you value them and your relationship.

Systemizers + Analyzers need structure to feel comfortable making progress on an assignment. They're motivated by preparation and accuracy and they fear being wrong. To bring out their best, front-load detailed project information and a timeline so they can feel safe and secure with what they have to work with.

Check in on deadlines regularly because this type tends to avoid prioritization and may not tell you if they're running behind, but will always strive to do quality work. Give them assignments that allow them to mitigate or avoid risks.

Be prepared for this type to caution you regarding your approach or process and evaluate their ideas on the quality of information they provide. Minimize emotions and allow them to make objective decisions and recommendations. This type hates surprises and new information can throw off their estimates, so give them plenty of time to re-evaluate any progress they've made if you change strategy or direction.

Bringing out people's best can be very easy when you know and adjust for how their brain types naturally work. Make sure you spend a little time reviewing each team member so you can effectively communicate on their terms when making requests or assigning tasks.

Related: How to Deal with Employees Who Insist on Always Getting Their Way

Michael Cooper

Founder of Innovators + Influencers

Michael O. Cooper equips right-brain entrepreneurs, creative professionals and agencies with the business mindset, strategies and skills to thrive in a constantly changing environment. He is the founder of and serves as executive coach, facilitator and trainer for design, software, public relations and communications firms, as well as TED Fellows. 

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