What happens when a person who is intuitive and future-oriented gets a promotion that requires working with numbers and facts?
His or her workplace productivity likely will change. It's what St. Louis management consultant and author Rebecca Mann calls a "behavior mismatch."A behavior mismatch results when the employee's way of relating to the workplace environment conflict with the supervisor's requirements for that job.
In "Behavior Mismatch: How to Manage Problem Employees Whose Actions Don't Match Your Expectations" (American Management Association, $19.95), Mann says the employee and the supervisor have differing expectations about those requirements, which fuels the conflict.
The sparring that results may lead the supervisor to label the employee one of the company's "problem people."
"It can affect company productivity because people then make more mistakes. It also hurts the morale of co-workers if you, as a supervisor, cannot deal with the behavior mismatch," Mann said. "And it affects the bottom line tremendously, especially once it begins causing turnover."
But many behavior mismatchs can be resolved, Mann says. Start by listening to what the players are saying. Here's what a behavior mismatch sounds like:
Supervisor: I try to empower Tom and solicit his input.
Employee: My boss passes the buck and can't make decisions.
Supervisor: Marcy has no work ethic. She lives for 5 p.m. and flies out the door.
Employee: My manager has no life outside work and thinks I shouldn't either.
Both are speaking from their particular personality types and workplace experience. When diagnosing a behavior mismatch, Mann says, you must examine both the employee and the supervisor on three bases: individual, psychological and organizational:
- Individual: This is each person's knowledge, skills, innate ability and life experience. Does the behavior problem stem from a low skill level? How about life experience? Mann gives the example of an employee who came from a blue-collar background and had parents who pushed her to become a highly paid executive. The person did not have the interpersonal or organizational skills to work at that level - but she was driven to seek it. Her life experience resulted in a behavior mismatch.
- Psychological: This includes self-esteem, attitudes, personality type and motivation. Low self-esteem often plays a big role in mismatches, Mann says, because the way you feel about yourself influences how you behave at work. Personality type, as pinpointed by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or a similar screening tool, can indicate the work environment best for that person.
- Organizational: To function adequately, all employees must understand their company's reporting relationships, lines of communications and authority areas. People work best when they understand the hierarchy they work within. Employees involved in behavior mismatches often are not clear on these important issues.
Next week: how to resolve a behavior mismatch.