Session 2 Understanding Your People

Session 2 Understanding Your People - Understanding People...

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Understanding People You Manage By Michael Maccoby A large part of your job as a research technology manager is understanding people, not just evaluating how well they have performed. Evaluation is easy part; much harder is predicting how people will perform in new roles. Here are some of the questions you probably have to answer: What's her potential? Can he lead a big project? Will this person be able to adapt to a rapidly changing market? Can I get these two people to work together? Although understanding people is a crucial part of your role, it's not likely you have had much training for it. That's partly because you concentrated on studying science and engineering. Maybe you took management courses, possibly even an M.B.A. But even so, you didn't learn a great deal about understanding people. Sure, you signed up for leadership training where you listened to someone sell one or another personality theory. You probably took a personality test; corporations spend $400 million dollars a year on them. But if you stopped to think about it, you wondered why there were so many different personality theories. You don't find umpteen different theories about how computers function or what happens if you mix certain chemicals. There's been steady progress in science and engineering, understanding the physical world. Yet, psychologists still argue over what Freud wrote a century ago. Why so little progress in understanding people? When I asked a physicist friend this question, he suggested that the reason was that we can't do controlled experiments on people the way we do in the natural sciences. Furthermore, he said, even if we could do the experiments, there are too many variables involved, and like the complementary principle of Quantum mechanics when you have measured one variable, you can't measure others. There is an even more important difference between understanding people vs. the physical world. Scientists and engineers can detach themselves from their emotions. In fact, many people choose the fields of science and engineering partly for this reason, to avoid messy emotions. But understanding people requires using emotions as well as intellect, a listening heart together with an educated head. Knowing whether a person is caring, conscientious, anxious, hostile, angry, defensive, open, unsure or confident is a matter of experiencing that person, free of your own distorting emotions like competitiveness, anger, anxiety or suspiciousness. It means
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This note was uploaded on 03/24/2012 for the course COMA 4319 taught by Professor Kriskittle during the Spring '12 term at Dallas Baptist.

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Session 2 Understanding Your People - Understanding People...

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