This is part of an extended correspondence course in management. You can dip into it as you go, or you can follow the course, right from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.
Are you a ‘rush-rush-got-to-get-things-done’ sort of a manager, or are you a ‘take my time; want to get things right’ type? Or are you nicely balanced. Doctors Mike Friedman and Ray Rosenman identified these two styles as, respectively, Type A and Type B personalities. When I tell you they were cardiac specialists, you might start to worry. There is no need. Take the test and then I’ll explain.
For each of these nine statements, score yourself 0 to 10 according to how close you lie to the first statement (a low score) or to the second statement (a high score).
Casual and relaxed 0 … 10 Often feel on edge
Slow and deliberate 0 … 10 Always rushing
Dislike deadlines 0 … 10 Love working to deadlines
Patient 0 … 10 Impatient
Express your feelings 0 … 10 Suppress your feelings
One thing at a time 0 … 10 Lots of things at once
Ready in advance 0 … 10 Just in time
Plan and prepare 0 … 10 Just do it
Enjoy relaxing 0 … 10 Feel guilty when relaxing
Friedman and Rosenman predicted that strong Type A personalities would be prone to heart disease and die young. They were wrong. Many of their patients did have a cluster of personality traits that they characterised as Type A, but only a few of them were truly predictive of illness – and not the ones relating to rushing about.
However, both Type A and Type B personalities each have their own challenges in operating in an organisation. Let’s look at some.
Dealing with other People
Inevitably, we deal best with people who are like us. We find them easy to understand and their habits agreeable. Type As readily get impatient with Type Bs. They want the B to hurry up and despair that the B has no sense of urgency about things. Type Bs find Type As’ hurry annoying; they would rather the A would slow down and do things properly and are concerned about quality standards.
Dealing with Admin
Type Bs will take on the organising and admin tasks as another thing to do carefully and well. Type As – unless they really value it – will rush through it, wanting to move quickly onto ‘proper work’. They will then get angry when they can’t find what they need or get what they want.
Dealing with Interruptions
Type Bs may not welcome an interruption – especially when they are engrossed in something – but when they accept it has happened, they will turn their whole attention to you. This is great for the interrupter and can lead to positive outcomes. But when the interrupter has a non-critical issue, Type Bs can lose valuable time on the work they were doing. Not so Type A’s. The interruption may be unwelcome or a welcome distraction when they are starting to feel bored, but the Type A will soon be tapping their foot, keen to get on.
Type A personalities get masses done; often just in time and at breakneck pace. Quality can suffer, especially when they try to multi-task, but it is Type As who are at the heart of the (perfectly true) cliché: ‘if you want it done; ask a busy person.’ Type Bs focus on one thing at a time and do it well. They plan well and execute effectively, as long as they don’t get held up by an interruption or by finding a problem and working deliberately to solve it.
Exercise: Balance is Everything
The most successful people inevitably balance both personality types. Look at your weak points and note them in your notebook. What strategies will you use to neutralise them?