Understand Thyself

Devashish Chakravarty        Print Edition: February 2012

Devashish Chakravarty
Bikes are temperamental. Each surrenders meekly to the right rider but is harsh on an unsuited owner. A job is just like a bike-worthless if the rider is unsuited to handling its temperament. The right match is composite of your preferences.

Narendra, an operations manager at a manufacturing plant, likes variety. He is happier working on turnkey projects rather than at established plants as he enjoys unravelling logistical knots. That's a preference that makes him competent and even creative at his profession.

You can understand which profile suits you through psychometric tests. You can map your work values by listing your preferences in descending order or by rating them on a scale on parameters such as creativity, leadership, change, teamwork, social impact, knowledge, respect and so on. The list is not exhaustive.

Based on some common combinations of values, we're giving you five profiles. Check if you can identify with one or a combination of them.

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THE ADMINISTRATOR
With a preference for security and status quo, the administrator is comfortable working with existing systems. Clear organisational charts and roles are important and he likes to create structures for people and organisations if none exists. He likes concrete data about work and people. He uses this strength to be a team player or leader, though he prefers to work alone. The administrator dislikes arguments and prefers logical approaches. He also dislikes ambiguity and works hard to complete projects.

THE BOSS
The boss loves to communicate. He enjoys complex challenges and uses rationale to figure out the world. He is comfortable understanding and explaining the big picture. He also prefers autonomy and in-depth knowledge and relishes structure. Unlike the administrator, the boss likes theories. He works towards converting theories into workable plans and measurable outcomes. Focussed on the macro perspective, he dislikes micro-level details and routine. He also has no patience for inefficiency and lack of expertise.

THE PRIEST
The priest's primary interest is people. This interest translates into a strong understanding of relationships, interactions and feelings. He likes using this understanding to create cohesive teams at the workplace. He enjoys counselling team members in order to draw out their best. As a team leader, his preferred method of decision making is through collaboration. A dislike for conflict and arguments means that the priest knows what to say and when. Like the boss, he is bored with details. He prefers variety and challenges at work.

THE PROFESSOR
The professor loves knowledge and learning. His curiosity leads him to discover structures through the 'how and why' of things and people. He is neither interested nor disinterested in leadership roles and uses his reasoning skills to steer through as a manager. He prefers facts-based decision making. He is not too concerned about popularity and enjoys sharing knowledge with a directness that is not concerned about how it is received. He prefers autonomy and does not need the security of teams. Though he likes to work without structure, he works well within teams as long as his preference for learning is met.

THE SALESMAN
The salesman prefers to live in the moment. He enjoys seeking instant solutions to problems and is a resourceful teammate. He loves dealing with people and likes to develop interpersonal skills. Routine bores him as he seeks to travel through his work. He prefers direct communication. He enjoys starting projects and relishes challenges and abhors structure. The salesman is more likely to enjoy the action in the field as opposed to strategising at headquarters. With his ability to enthuse people, he is comfortable in the role of a team leader.

Now, use the insights you have gained to work towards responsibilities that enable you to use your choices and preferences. Make sure to pick a role or firm whose culture matches your choices to succeed.

The writer is CEO, Quetzal Verify, an HR solutions company started by four IIM-Ahmedabad graduates.

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE...

Choose the right job
Administrator: Quoting academic theories to support your views will not get you far. Base your arguments on hard data and practical outcomes. Make sure you have your facts right because the administrator will have done his home work.

Choose the right job
Boss: Get your efficiency and expertise noticed and then your opinions will hold greater value. You will gain respect if you speak from a position of knowledge. Go one step further by making sure that you offer to take on precision- and detail-oriented tasks as a perfect foil to his macro-view skills.

Choose the right job
Priest: Know that your inputs will always be heard. Make sure that you share your views gently. Unnecessary aggression will rarely elicit responses and may lead to blocked communications. Do not forget the people element in the solutions that you offer and they will be accepted willingly.

Choose the right job
Professor: A thick skin is useful here. No offense is ever intended when his facts are stated directly. Likewise, when it is your turn, focus on facts and data instead of intuition. You will be given autonomy but the professor will also gladly share his knowledge if you seek it.

Choose the right job
Salesman: Call or walk up to the salesman for your conversations. Keep your explanations short and practical and your opinions ready. He is quick in initiating projects, so offer to complete them since he does not particularly like doing that.

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