PSIU Lesson 6 of 7: How Would You Better Manage Sam?2021-01-21T09:56:52-08:00

I’d like you to meet Sam. Sam is a process improvement specialist at ACME Corp., a job he started about 3 months ago. Below are three pictures from Sam’s PSIU report. For practice in applying insights from a PSIU report (including your own), I’d like you to imagine that you are Sam’s manager. Your goal is to use his results to help him thrive in this very critical role for the company.

Here is a picture of how Sam has been showing up at work (page 2 from his PSIU report): What can you tell about Sam? Sam is a Stabilizer-Innovator style (note the high peaks in the Stabilizer and Innovator quadrants). This indicates that Sam is analytical and strategic – exactly the style you’d want in a smart Process Improvement specialist.

Next, here is a picture of how Sam wants to show up at work (page 3 from his report):

What can you tell about Sam now? (Hint: look for the gaps!) He’s feeling some big pressure to show results! This is the larger gap between the red and blue lines at Producer. He also wants to have a bit more time and energy to connect with his colleagues. This is the smaller gap between the red and blue lines at Unifier. It’s pretty easy to empathize with Sam, isn’t it? He’s new to the job and wants to prove his value. However, he’s still stuck at trying to figure out that big picture (Innovator) and understand the details (Stabilizer) before he can really take action. Do you feel that tension?

Finally, here’s what Sam thinks he should be doing to meet others’ needs in his job (page 4 of his report). “Others” could mean Sam’s bosses, colleagues, or clients:

Now, what can you tell about Sam? There’s a voice in Sam’s head telling him that he needs to connect more with others to better understand their needs (green Unifier) and the big picture for the company and their departments (green Innovator). This makes a lot of sense for a Process Improvement specialist who need to help streamline and optimize cross-functional processes.

So what’s really going on with Sam? First, I want you to notice that he’s not really thriving in his role yet. Just note the incongruity between the red, blue, and green lines. He’s feeling a bit split serving too many conflicting needs within himself and within his perception of what the environment needs.

As his manager, what steps would you take in this situation? First, I would sit down with Sam and get his perspective on his report. There’s no right or wrong answers or one right style. I would call out Sam’s strengths as a Stabilizer-Innovator. He’s a critical thinker and we need that in his role.

Second, I would help Sam to create a plan to better “gather the mass” with his colleagues. This could be a kick-off meeting to gather feedback from stakeholders on the most important process improvement areas to tackle first (hint: look for the quick wins to help Sam build momentum). I would help him to realize that Producing in this role requires collaboration before he can embark on individual execution.

Third, I would spend some time with Sam quizzing him on the corporate vision and strategy. What aspects of the bigger picture or process improvement strategy is he trying to figure out? If he’s gone too far off the mandate (a high Innovator can think themselves into knots sometimes), I would bring him back to the charter.

Fourth, I would determine what is causing the high need to Stabilize. Is it Sam just thinking through and trying to understand all of the details or is there some larger impediment in the organizational structure or culture that is making it harder than necessary to create breakthroughs?

Basically, in all of my inquiry and dialogue, I’m trying to play to Sam’s strengths and to help him navigate this new environment. If it works, then not only should I see measurable improvement gains in the company’s cross-functional process improvements (measured through KPI gains) if I was to ask Sam to retake his report, I would expect to see a closing of the gaps or a more integrated picture between the blue, red, and green diamonds in his report.

To your success,

Lex Sisney
Organizational Physics