The Unconscious Mind and Annoying People

I just returned from a conference in Atlanta that brought together top experts in the areas of business and people management. Highlighted by a keynote address by Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, there was a ton of useful information to improve one’s management skills. I couldn’t attend all the SHRM sessions, but I thought I’d report on a couple.

Dr. Kimberly Alyn presented Building Better Teams, based on a simple model that divides our behavioral styles into four character types, where one dominates. This behavioral preference (“Type”) is inherited from one of our parents, and while it cannot be changed, we can monitor our actions and adapt them in order to work better with others. When we deal with people of other types, it can be naturally annoying.

I recommend viewing her presentation (the web site is safe): How to Deal with Annoying People, and determine your type and those of your team members. Check your preferences on slides 3-4. The more checks in a column indicate your behavioral preference, and the chart on page 5 shows your type. Do the same with people with whom you interact (including spouses). Then read what can make you annoying and how to manage it when dealing with other types.

Do you think you are biased? Of course you are, we all are, and that was the theme of The Unconscious Organization: How the Unconscious Mind Dominates Our Organizational Decisions and What We Can Do About It. Essentially, we see the world through our personal filters developed over the years by cultural experiences. That is why we tend to hire in our likeness and why we hear what we want to hear (selective attention). My favorite quote from the presentation: ““Normal” is a self and culturally defined reality.” Here’s a White Paper on the subject, Exploring Unconscious Bias.

The most controversial subject was on compensation, a topic many companies are grappling with, post- Great Recession.   I didn’t attend the session but heard and read about it, Replace merit pay with variable pay. Presented by a compensation consultant, the premise is that merit increases are being replaced by variable pay programs that target individual performance and paid in lump sum. From a business perspective, maintaining a relatively consistent salary base is advantageous, but it is a major paradigm shift for most employees who are accustomed to yearly incremental increases.  

If you’d like more information, contact me or visit SHRM.

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