Personality Counts - In Hiring and Firing

Julie Shenkman
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What if you could categorize people as a way of determining the best kind of jobs for them, what balance of each category you had in your company, and - let's just make this dream as wonderful as possible - the best way to inform employees they are no longer working for your company? Wouldn't that just be swell?

Sure, it sounds farfetched, but Judy George, founder and CEO of Domain Home Furniture, a Boston-based specialty retail chain that has 225 employees, says it's not as crazy as it may sound.

George learned the hard way that she needed to have people around her who thought differently than she did. "When I first started Domain, I had a management team in place, but business would be up one year and down the next.

"What we were good at was marketing and setting up stores and presenting products. But what we weren't so good at was solving the problems that were inherent in the furniture industry, and so we didn't have the bottom-line results we needed."

So George found a coach to work with her, and it was through this coach that she began to realize that her team needed to include people different from her. "I also learned that I needed to create a team environment where people were more empowered to make decisions, even if they might not be the types of decisions that I like, as long as they were right for the company."

Four categories of workers

It wasn't long before George noticed that she could categorize her workers into four categories:

* Visionary

* Adventurer

* Idealist

* Artisan

As George discusses in her book, "The Intuitive Businesswoman" (Clarkston N. Potter/Publishers 2000), companies need all four types. "For instance, I am a Visionary. I am the out-front person, the marketing and merchandising person. I can do a great job buying, but how I get it into the customer's home is all about the Idealist's process. Idealists are functional, and they make sure all of their systems are in place.

"Then, you have the Artisan, who is great as the human resources person. These are people who really care about building a team, and they are the ones concerned about benefits and the welfare of everybody else. They identify the human aspects of a company.

"Finally, you need the Adventurers. They are the gamblers, the ones who will say, 'Let's try this.' They will be the people to show you there can be another way of doing something. Only make sure you don't have too many of them."

But identifying which type of category someone falls into is only half the story. Once you know the category, George is emphatic that you make sure that the person is placed in the right job. In her book, George has a whole list of activities that are right and wrong for each category. For example:

Hire Visionaries to:

* Head up public relations

* Do executive recruitment

Don't hire them to:

* Deal directly with the public

* Head up human relations

Hire Artisans to:

* Create an on-site day-care program

* Put together employee benefits packages

Don't hire them to:

* Program computers

* Streamline departments

Hire Idealists to:

* Clean up a fiscal mess

* Write program codes

Don't hire them to:

* Make motivational speeches

* Settle employee disputes

Hire Adventurers to:

* Inspire your team to think outside the box

* Work on short-term projects

Don't hire them to:

* Teach your team to be efficient

* Create a financial portfolio

How to let these employees go

Letting people go is never an easy job, but George has observed that different techniques work better for each of the four groups:

Visionaries: First of all, you really should sit down with these employees on a regular basis to have open, honest communication about their style. They won't do well if you suddenly announce they are no longer needed. They don't like to be surprised, which can create a lot of anger. Visionaries are going to go out and bury you, so make sure you have dotted your 'I's and crossed your 'T's, because they are tough and may very well come after you.

Idealists: They are the toughest to let go, because along the way, Idealists do their homework, so you had better have facts and figures about why you are letting them go. And you better have it all documented. Do not let them go without showing them factually what it is they have done wrong and how that has affected the company negatively. Without that kind of explanation, they will not hear a word you say.

Artisans: Never let an Artisan go without making sure you offer them help to find another job. They will be wounded and will assume that they did something wrong, even if they didn't. The best way to let them go is to be nurturing and explain that it just didn't work out here at this company, but let them know there are other places where their gifts and talents would be welcomed. Then, offer to make some calls for them or help them write up their resume.

Adventurers: They are actually the easiest to let go, because chances are they are already bored with you anyway. They tend to shake it off and say, "Great! I am off to new and better things." And they will never think it was their fault.


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