Do you have a profile for each of your direct reports?

No, I’m not urging you to build the Big Brother type of organization, where there’s a hidden file for each and every employee with all his/her dirty secrets.

A profile is a document which helps me understand the person better, hence communicate better, work more effectively and develop a better relationship. I usually make a separate file for each person and write down the answers of a few questions.

The questions:

Here’s a list of the questions, based on which I build a profile. The basic version of the questionnaire is 1 to 7. You can start with those if it’s your first time doing this formally:

  1. What is this person motivated by?
  • What is their reason to stay in the organization?
  • What is their motivation for development?
  • What is their work-related goal/s for this year?

2. What are the peculiarities of this person 🙂

  • strong sides (based on their position)
  • weak sides (based on their position)

3. How do you deal with the peculiarities?

  • How do you empower the positive effects of their peculiarities?
  • How do you deal with the negative effects of their peculiarities?

4. What do they approve:

  • of you
  • of their role
  • of the company

5. How do you make sure that you keep it that way?

  • regarding yourself
  • regarding the role
  • regarding the company

6. What do they dislike about:

  • you
  • their role
  • the company

7. What are you going to do about it:

  • your attitude and actions
  • their role
  • the company

8. Do  they wanna develop/ be an average/ do enough to not lose their job?

9. How do they react when:

  • get enthusiastic
  • disagrees with you/ another team member
  • is frustrated with you/ another team member
  • tired or under stress
  • makes mistakes
  • wants to sell you an idea
  • gets involved in an argument
  • is reluctant to do something

10. What is the best way to sell her an idea?
11. What internal and external factors influence her?
12. How does she learn best?

For some people it may take you 15 to 30 minutes to write down all the answers. If so, good job, you’ve taken the time to get to know your people.

Though, sometimes you find out that you are not quite sure about a few answers. Don’t rush it. Here are some ideas how to “gather the data”:

  • ask the person directly during your one-on-ones
  • schedule a dedicated meeting to discuss those questions
  • get info from appraisals
  • observe the reactions of the person
  • Ask them to write an essay/ write the answers down themselves (I plan to write more on this topic in the next months)

An example:

Name of the employee Thomas
1. What is this person motivated by?
1.1. What is their reason to stay in the organization? Faces many challenges (both on operational and strategic level) and this makes his development curve very steep + feels the support of the management and that they play the role of a safety net when things get harsh
Loves (believes in) the project he works on
1.2. What is their motivation for development? strong
1.3. What is their work-related goal/s for this year? !!! needs to be defined
2. What are the peculiarities of this person? 3. How do you deal with the peculiarities?
2.1. strong sides 3.1. How do you empower the positive effects of their peculiarities?
puts order in the chaos – process oriented: involve him in setting processes and structure for new projects and initiatives
takes ownership and is responsible give him more freedom and autonomy in his roles; give him more responsibility
good communication skills his role involves a lot of communication with different stakeholders
2. 2. weak sides 3.2. How do you deal with the negative effects of their peculiarities?
too soft in his communication; avoids direct negative feedback magnify the importance of any issues and negative feedback which he brings up
it’s hard for him to say “No” Put him in situations when he needs to say “no” and discuss their feelings afterwards
he finds it hard to keep up with the work load in the organization Put clear priorities and discuss what can be left behind; this would be a long-term issue
perfectionist Delegate non-vital tasks and communicate that the deadline must be met but they can compromise on quality. See what happens. Afterwards, discuss how did they feel and the results.
not self-confident enough Put emphasis on his achievements and the areas where he delivers great results
4. What do they approve of: 5. How do you make sure that you keep it that way?
4.1. you safety net when things get tough continue providing support
role model as work ethic work 🙂
4.2. their role challenges and cases give him more and more authority and decision-making powers
sit down and discuss the hard cases
4.3. the company loves the product keep explaining the value of what we are building
6. What do they disapprove of: 7. What are you going to do about it?
6.1. you pushing too hard from time to time manage my expectations and making sure he feels comfortable with his workload
spelling mistakes let him correct me
6.2. their role too many tasks work with him to manage the stress
hire more people
he wants more people-oriented tasks let him do workshops for clients
work with me on company culture
6.3. the company not enough team spirit activities let her work with me
too hard-working culture
8. Do they wanna develop/ be an average/ do enough to not lose their job? Develop!
9. How do they react when:
9.1. get enthusiastic needs someone to share their passion!
9.2. disagrees with you/ another team member
he would not directly get in an argument but express her point of view mildly
9.3. is frustrated with you/ another team member he would escape direct conflicts
9.4. tired or under stress
tries to finish all tasks; finds it hard to prioritize; this drains his energy out
9.5. makes mistakes afraid to do them
9.6. wants to sell you an idea speaks out his arguments directly
9.7. gets involved in an argument he does not
9.8. is reluctant to do s.th. tries convincing you? (I need to explore this further)
10. What is the best way to sell him/her an idea? through meaning. explain the why!
11. What internal and external factors influence her? ?!? I need to explore this further
12. How does she learn best?
give him a problem and he’ll do his research, learning in the process

 

Practical notes:

Don’t just copy and paste the questions. You can borrow some of them but think of those which reflect your management approach

Chances are that you are about to “skip the writing”. If at some point in the future you have a conflict with a colleague; his/her productivity is falling; or you need them (they want to) take another role in the organization, remember about this exercise and grab a pen. The answers may surprise you and can really help you.

 

Share your tips and tricks in the onboarding process. What have you tried? What works for you? What doesn’t?


About me: Apart from acting as a CEO of DEV.BG (the biggest IT community in Bulgaria) I help CEOs of small companies build their business. If you face a case I can help you with, drop me a message on LinkedIN.

Excuse my English 🙂 English is not my mother tongue and as you have seen it may be improved. Though, I believe that my level of command of the language covers the basic criteria in order for me to convey my ideas.


image: pixabay