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Edition 86 – Go the Amiables!

I work with a wide variety of family businesses and over recent months, I’ve identified a pattern when it comes to the staff in those family businesses.

Most owners and managers of family businesses are energetic, enthusiastic and demanding. Generally, but not always, they exhibit strong or dominant personality traits. All of which means when they hire staff that are similar to them in personality, it can only end in tears.

Strong or dominant personalities don’t like to be told what to do. They believe they know better and don’t tend to listen to what others have to say – they follow their own path. In an employer-employee relationship, this can lead to significant conflict when it is the employee that is also a strong personality.

On the other hand, I’ve observed that employees that exhibit amiable personality traits are completely different. When I refer to amiables, these are the qualities that I’ve identified amongst the staff of the family businesses that I work with:

  1. They aim to please – though most business owners are secretly impressed by the amiable’s capacity for efficiency and their work completion rate.
  2. They are happy to take on extra work – to a point.
  3. They get on and do it. Minimal complaining. Minimal fuss.
  4. They don’t buck systems. They are what they are and they follow them.
  5. They are easily trained.
  6. They like systems and processes.
  7. They maintain respect for the leadership team of the business.

These personality types work well with the owners and managers in family businesses mainly as a result of the fact they are the frontline of implementation. Whether it is working in an office, chugging about on the forklift in the warehouse or out on a construction site, they know what they have to do and make their first (and often only) task simply to get on with it.

Now, there is a downside to amiables that I have also observed. Their agreeable characteristics also means they can, at times, take on more than they can handle – and not pipe up about it. They become stressed, often withdrawing rather than admit to the boss they’re overloaded and experiencing stress.

For the owners and managers of family businesses, it is important to identify when this happens, so that you don’t burn the amiables out and lose them forever.

So, the next time you are employing people, consider the following:

  1. Consider your own personality style – if you don’t self reflect well, just ask your spouse for a warts and all appraisal.
  2. Think about the different people you have clashed with over the years.
  3. What is the common theme or personality traits amongst those situations?
  4. Reflect on the different people that you have had good, solid working relationships with in the past.
  5. Again, take the time to consider the common themes or personality traits in those situations.

Too often, the owners and managers of family businesses employ based on skills and perceived ability, but often overlook the personality of the candidate and how it will work in their current business environment. I’d take an amiable personality who is willing to learn any day of the week over a dominant personality who knows it all, and likes to tell you they do as well.

This Week’s Tip

Amiable personalities could be the difference between an idea remaining an idea in your family business and it coming to fruition