Different ways to skin a cat


Different ways to skin a cat

By Anthony Walley, cat lover, The CONFIDANT Group

Last week I met a new client with an interesting, rather personal predicament. As the owner of a small family business, he felt it was time to hand over the management reigns to his son.

But father and son, as it turned out, are two very different people. Following a careful analysis of their talent in the work environment, it became clear that while the father’s dominant, risk-taking profile was consistent with an enterprising entrepreneur, the son’s more collaborative, risk-averse nature was in direct conflict with his father’s management style.

It made sense, then, that following a short trial period, the father was unhappy with how his son went about managing the business. “He’s too soft on the staff” was one of his comments, and “he doesn’t push them to their fullest ability” was another.

To solve the issue, we asked both parties to complete a talent requirement survey for the job. The responses mirrored exactly how each individual would do the job his way. Because there was a lack of clear deliverables – other than making a healthy profit as a small business – the result was a set of opinions which, while obviously different, reflected the individual’s management styles.

Interestingly, while there was a professional disconnect in how to achieve the goals of the business, both father and son agreed that the job had, ultimately, been done successfully. We created a better understanding and alleviated the stresses in the business (and the family) by pointing out the father and son’s unique talents and management styles, rather than focusing on their differences.

The lesson we draw from this, which is something I consistently repeat to my clients, is that there are always different ways to skin a cat. There is no such thing as an ideal management style, only the management style that best serves the business.

This leads to the second and most important part of the process: understanding the needs of the team. Once a manager is aware of his or her own inherent management style (and you’ll be surprised at how many managers aren’t), they have to determine how their style fits in with the individual talents and needs of their teams.

For example, an extroverted individual could arguably be more inclined to respond to a collaborative, team-focused manager, while a more task-focused individual might be less gregarious and find an inclusive manager less inspiring, and prefer to work on individual rather than team goals.

It’s critically important in any business that a manager knows how best to help individuals use their natural talents and proficiencies. Sometimes your style won’t be ideal for the team, but if you expect maximum efficiency, you need to learn how to play to your people’s natural abilities rather than coerce them into a false sense of delivery.

This article is part of a series titled ‘Taking control of chaos’. For more insight follow Anthony’s posts on our blog, or contact Anthony directly on anthony@confidant.co.za

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