The Not a People Person Boss

Mark from Florida writes “I report to the CEO of our company. He is no doubt a brilliant strategist, but he has zero people skills. Everyone is afraid to approach him, which is too bad because we miss out on some really good ideas…”

It is an inescapable fact that a work environment is a direct reflection of the leadership. So what do you do when the message from the top is that people aren’t really important? Can you change someone who is not a ‘people person?’ Believe it or not, you can. For the most part, otherwise intelligent people who aren’t ‘people people’ behave the way they do because they just don’t see the benefit of it. They are focused on numbers or other concrete things. Emotions and abstract concepts such as ‘morale’ and ‘positive energy’ elude them. They may understand what they are, but just don’t see any tangible value in nurturing them – probably because these things don’t play a large part in their own lives. The secret to changing their focus is actually quite simple. All you have to do is be specific, and adequately communicate the benefit of improving their people skills.

For example, if you just said, “Hey boss, you might want to consider a little positive reinforcement with the staff once and a while”, chances are you wouldn’t likely get a good response.

But what if you presented it like this: “Hey boss, I just read that if a leader simply walks around for fifteen minutes every morning and talks with employees, profits can improve by as much as 20%. It might be worth a try.” Where the first example is vague in both the what’s and why’s, the second example identifies a specific action, and a specific result – two important triggers for people focused on concrete things.

It won’t always work – but it can’t hurt to try!

Good luck!

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