Knowing Your Work Style Can Help You Avoid Burnout by Donald Miller
Recently I read Tom Paterson’s book Living the Life You Were Meant to Live and enjoyed it a great deal. I even took part in a 2-day life plan evaluation with somebody who works with Tom’s system (Pete Richardson in Colorado) and, together, we evaluated the significant events of my life, my working style, my management style and so on, and then hi-lighted the stuff I was good at and also the stuff I wasn’t. I left with a very clear picture of what I needed to do over the next ten years. I also left understanding what I needed to let go of.
What I found out is that I am a visionary entrepreneur. I come up with ideas and I love to get them started. I also discovered I am not a manager. I can manage a small staff of self-starters, people who do not need to be managed or told what to do, but I can’t manage a team that is looking to me for specifics. In other words, I treat people the way I like to be treated. I want to come up with a vision and then given the resources to make it happen. Check in with me in a year and I’ll show you what I’ve done.
The way that Tom lays out a persons work style is by categorizing work styles as such:
1. Grinders: These people want to be given tasks, very specific tasks. They will complete these tasks if they are given the resources and expectations are set clearly and respectfully.
2. Minders: These people are like grinders, but they can also manage their peers. If they are given specific tasks, they can accomplish them while also working with and even managing a small team.
3. Keepers: This personality is capable of managing the whole store. They think in strategy and can help actualize somebody’s vision as long as they are given clear goals and resources.
4. Finders: Finders are looking to open up new territory. They think strategically, but also can work with a blank canvass. They can be given a broad vision, and are not in need of specifics. They are creators. They are not necessarily good managers, though, and need a team around them to make up for the parts of their job they are not wired to perform.
5. Theorists: Theorists can be very open ended. They play with ideas, and don’t really need to bring those ideas into fruition. They are not closers, they are starters, but their ideas are often massive, culture shaping and changing ideas.
You can also look at this list as a scale in terms of risk aversion. Grinders are low risk. They like security and safety and value dependability. Theorists, on the other hand, are high risk. Too much security and safety makes them uncomfortable. They need to explore new territory.
So here is what I learned from Tom and Pete:
Working outside your personality is exhausting and if you do it for long, you will burn out. You can keep it up for a while, but if you are a grinder in a management position, you are going to be drained, and if you are a theorist having to manage people and specifics, you are not going to last long. The key is to begin moving toward work that fits within your work style. A friend who is more of a finder had to work in a keeper position for a large company and burned out. He literally spent six weeks in the hospital recovering. He just wasn’t wired to do that kind of work.
Another reality is that if you are a grinder working for a theorist, it’s going to be difficult. You need specifics and they don’t have any specifics for you. So understanding the personality of those you work with is important as well.
This idea resonated with me so strongly that I made significant changes in my work. Being a Finder/Theorists, I moved out of some of the management roles. Luckily, I was already surrounded by a small staff of self-starters, people who do not need to be managed and understand and are compatible with my work style. I also realized that in one area of my life, I work with another visionary finder. Two finders can work well together, but they have to give each other space and respect. If one tries to manage the other, it simply won’t work. So I am formalizing a way to interact with my other Finder.
All in all, great stuff.
This helped me and I thought it might help you too.
Where are you on this list? If you are a grinder or minder, does your authority give you clear instructions and expectations? If not, a conversation with them (non judgmental) explaining to them how you are wired and how they can get the most productivity from you might be in order. Are you a finder, working in a grinder job? You need to figure out how you can move out of that position. If you are a theorist, you are going to need a team of closers to help you out, because you aren’t going to finish tasks, and that means you aren’t going to be productive.