Individuality & Business: Enemy or Essential!

Author Sam Wheeler

Gred Hp Senior Link

​Individuality, and embracing it across your business

There’s a huge debate raging around the world about the education system – its shortcomings in terms of assessing each child for their strengths, and its pigeonholing of so many individuals into one streamlined, unimaginative system.

But what about the workplace? Can the same be said for employment systems in the UK?

Here at Certus, we talk to a lot of different people from different backgrounds, industries and businesses, each and every day. Working in recruitment you truly get a feel for just how different people can be; the way they communicate, relate to others, respond and operate. The corporate world is truly a melting pot of personalities, job functions, interpretations and opinions; it’s not uncommon as a recruiter to meet two entirely different people, doing the same job for different companies, and find yourself stunned at the diversity in personality and impression of the two.

Flexible working is one thing – taking into account each individual’s personal circumstances i.e. picking the kids up from school or managing their health requirements – but what about considering the different ways in which us complicated human beings respond to certain things – by which I mean management styles, communicative methods and required tasks?

When running a business within which certain functions need to be completed and certain goals achieved, by certain people in certain job roles, is it possible to accommodate everyone’s preference?

And what can we be doing as businesses to at least try our best to do so?

“The way management treats associates is exactly how the associates will treat the customers.” Sam Walton, Founder of Walmart

Whatever your business does – provide a service, product or otherwise – I’m willing to take the bet that you likely offer solutions to customers in a ‘bespoke’ manner; that is, tailored around them and their individual business needs. As a decision maker, you should be trying to incorporate this principal into dealing with your own employees.

It’s no secret that certain members of the team don’t respond well to the tough-talking, blunt directive and ‘micromanagement’ stance; so, take the time to actually get to know each member of staff, how they respond to what, and tailor your approach accordingly. Managing far too many people for this to be a practical means of action? Perhaps it’s time to start considering that some line of middle-management might be what the business needs, and moreover could benefit from.

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple

We all want to hire people who work well under pressure, who can make critical decisions when they’re needed most. But what about those who actually NEED that constant push to properly react?

We’ve all worked with, or for, someone who does very little 90% of the time, saving their energies for when the boss is in; or, those who produce their most fantastic work at 5:30pm on a Friday, when everyone else is already on the tube home or buying the first round at the pub. As a manager or business owner, you equally need to identify which of your employees for whom the ‘softly, softly’ approach proves counterproductive.

“True leadership stems from individuality that is honest and sometimes imperfectly expressed… Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.” Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

It can be difficult, of that there’s no doubt – if you’re looking after a team of people with numerous individuals doing the same job, to employ different tactics for each can be daunting, time-consuming and often seemingly impractical.

But, for the longevity of your staff, turnover rates and the overall growth and progression of your company, we should at least all endeavour to take a less rigid, more tailored approach. Whether that comes in the form of different communication, management style or even incentivising team members individually – one person could care less about the financial reward and simply be looking for open praise and recognition, whilst another may simply need that figure in mind to get grafting – we should all as leaders be trying to value the differences we see across our teams and nurture them just so.

Individuality: exactly what it says on the tin. Managing and treating each person as exactly that – an individual.