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Monday, April 02, 2007

drucker and the 4 learning styles

One important, though seemingly simple, lesson that I got from reading Drucker was that people learn, and work, differently: primarily through reading, writing, talking or listening.

It may seem a simple lesson, but knowing how you work as a person is important to solving many work related issues. Knowing how your associates work too, is critical, because then you can work with them better.

Some people are reading types. They like daily reports, emails "keep me in the CC loop", they like looking at KPIs and have stacks of paper on their desks, printed off the computer, to read. Subordinates who do not like writing reports, or email "it is easier to call ain't it", or hate clearing paper, will find a boss who likes to read a possibly difficult one to work with, especially if the "reports" seem useless to that subordinate. But to the reader, that report makes things crystal clear, instantaneously, rather than having to ask you a million times verbally, why not write it down and hand it over?

But the talker - who likes to walk around the office talking to others, who likes to use the phone to say hello to many people, who likes to have long discussions or coffees - is a different person altogether. He bounces ideas off people, but sometimes these ideas remain ideas instead of becoming commitments. Some people find that a turn off because they didn't realise that person was merely working through thinking aloud.

The listener, likes coffees too, but more so to hear your day, to analyse your problems and perhaps come up with a quiet solution. These listeners hardly exist though, they are probably harder to recognise.

The writer, cannot get things done without scribbling, typing lists, making notes, drawing flow charts. He likes to write reports and KPIs for others, because this makes things clear.

Knowing how your associates are, helps you understand their needs for communication.

Recognise the walk-and-talker, and be his sounding board for his ideas - you become a springboard for his success, and yours too, after all, successful people are only surrounded by other successful people. Don't take everything he says as if it were a commitment; realise that creative people who like to talk, need a comrade, and a confidence, and you could be that person. If your boss likes to talk but perhaps not act very much, then be the actor for his ideas, and make him, and eventually yourself, successful in making those ideas happen.

Recognise the reader, and realise that the more he gets to read from you, the more he knows your effort and your achievements. Verbal discussions will not be useful without a written paper alongside them, so don't lead a meeting without such printouts unless you want to walk away from the boardroom without accomplishing your agenda.

Recognise the writer - who seems to make tons of lists and produces loads of papers, walking around with a notebook everywhere. That person will produce lots of things for you to read. Gain his respect by writing down what he says, and reading what he writes, otherwise don't go for a meeting with him, you will only frustrate him.

The listener, probably arranges to talk to you on the phone, or calls you when you have emailed instead. Don't force him to work through email, but get things done faster with him by going over to talk to him about your ideas or requests.

I am a writer-reader. I talk a lot in real life, but I hardly ever make rash verbal commitments or think aloud; if I say something, I have already thought about it before. I feel slighted when people come for meetings without reading what I have prepared. I need to print stuff out to read and file away (so obviously I am also not a tree-hugger, sorry). I stayed stoned for afternoons on end, thinking about how to come up with organisational solutions (in the past), but when I realised I worked through writing, and started scribbling away, I got the ideas down in a day.

H is a talker. He likes to tell you things over the phone, he likes to think aloud, sometimes seemingly randomly. He hardly works through email, or sms, he always calls.

My current boss Y is a reader-writer. She likes to be cc-ed everything, she has mounds of paper on her desk, she writes her thoughts down when she talks to you, something she probably learnt from her boss.

I work with one particular lecturer who is a listener. He is much easier to communicate with over the phone in an instant, compared to a week of emailing-waiting.

So you see, you need to know them, otherwise, you end up getting frustrated over: non-committal ideas and plans, having to CC everything, looking at colleagues' deskfuls of paper, waiting for email replies. Recognise their traits, and communicate with them effectively, and make them successful, and thus yourself.

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