Saturday, September 25, 2010
Review - The 4-Dimensional Manager: DiSC Strategies for Managing Different People in the Best Ways by Julie Straw and Alison Brown Cerier
Short review: People respond better when you manage them according to their personality type.
Are you Dominant,
Full review: The 4-Dimensional Manager is a pop management book that relies upon the "DiSC" system to categorize people into various personality types, and then present potential ways to manage them so as to get their maximum effort. The "DiSC" system is, like most social science related to management, only loosely based upon any actual science, and categorizes people by whether they have a "Dominant" personality, an "Influencing" personality, a "Supportive" personality, or a "Conscientious" personality, which is how the "DiSC" profile gets its name (there is apparently no real reason for the "i" to be lower case while the other letters are capitalized, it is just the way that the thing is written). The system also considers that people might be particularly strong in more than one profile area, allowing for a variety of combinations. The book gives an overview of each personality type, describing what typically motivates and demotivates each type, their preferred environment, what they avoid, and how they can be more effective in dealing with others.
Of course, personality profiling isn't going to sell many books without giving people some sort of tactic to use the profiles that will supposedly help them deal with the people they work with. So The 4-Dimensional Manager takes the DiSC profile system and tries to give a working framework to apply it for practical use. The book first asserts that people tend to manage according to their own personality profile, and expect to be able to manage others as if they shared their own preferences, a style the book describes as being a "1-dimensional manager". As I'm sure most people can figure out, the book urges the reader to become a "4-dimensional manager" and figure out how to deal with each of their coworkers in a way that will, according to the theory upon which the book is based, result in them reacting favorably and productively.
The book gives directions in chunks, first giving the basics of managing each personality type, then giving specific pointers for how to deal with specific common work related areas: how to delegate to each personality type, how to motivate each personality type, how to give feedback to each personality type, and so on. The book also has some added chapters near the end of the book concerning how to deal with mixed personality types. The only real trouble is that, since few workplaces are likely to test all of their employees, or allow their managers to assess them, those attempting to apply these lessons are likely to have to figure out what sort of personality type they are dealing with on the fly. The resulting potential for less than accurate evaluations should be fairly obvious. The further weakness inherent in attempting to apply these techniques is that it assumes the validity of the somewhat dubious social science underlying the DiSC system, but that is endemic to all management books, and probably cannot be avoided.
The upshot is, if the DiSC system is valid, then this book is a clear, step-by-step guide to how to apply the theory to practical situations and improve one's dealings with the other denizens of your workplace. By presenting the techniques on a topic-by-topic basis broken down by personality type, the book serves as a handy reference that can be used whenever a specific problem arises. The book is quite readable, and fairly short, making it a good starting point for anyone who wants to improve their management skills.
(By the way, for anyone who cares, I tested as a high D/high C personality type. No one who knows me personally was the least bit surprised by this information).
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