Like all couples, my husband and I have a few ongoing arguments. One involves how we get from one place to another. The problem isn't that one of us doesn't want to ask for directions. Rather, we disagree on how to get the directions.
He's a GPS man. He's happy to rely on his technology to get us places by issuing directions one monotone directive at a time. He willingly follows along and figures he'll see his destination when he gets there. I, on the other hand, feel helpless without an actual map in front of me. I like to see the entire journey laid out before me and understand where we are in relation to other things. I like to see the route we're taking and understand what direction we're heading in. I also like the idea that if the GPS stops working – which it occasionally does – we'll still know how to get where we're going.
I realize I’m in the minority. I haven't checked, but I'm sure sales of paper maps are on the decline. Even the Federal Aviation Administration has started allowing some pilots to use iPads in the cockpit rather than traditional paper charts.
The standing map-GPS smack down in our house reminds me that home isn't the only place where people disagree on the best route reaching a destination or the best method for solving a problem. At work, too, there are GPS users and there are map lovers. And, if you don't find the right way to manage each, you're probably not tapping into your employees' full potential.
Instead of communicating with your employees based on what they do, you may want to try to communicating with them based on how they think. Knowing which kind of employees you've got is the first step toward mapping out your managerial route to inspiring your employees to do great work.
The GPS Guy: If you've got some GPS'ers in your group, then clear cut, piecemeal directions are the way to go. These workers like to deal only with the task at hand and not worry about the big picture. They don't want to be overburdened with unnecessary details and would rather you focus on the longer-term plan and let them focus on what needs to be done that day
The Map Maven: Like I said, people who love maps like to see the big picture. They want to know where your company is headed and what role they plan in the journey. They also believe that having that knowledge will help them make better decisions about how they execute their tasks and make sure they are headed in the right direction at all times.
The Frequent Rest Stopper: These are folks who may enjoy the job, but need to take things at a slower pace. They may work hard for a couple of hours, but then need a few minutes of rest and relaxation before getting back on the road. They may be the proverbial tortoise to the rest of the company's hares, but just remember: Slow and steady often does win the race.
The AAA Member: While some employees cruise along and do well until something goes wrong and sends them off into a ditch, others are ready to handle any unforeseen problem. These are the types that keeps flares in the trunk and their triple A cards at the ready. They also usually know exactly where their spare tire is and how to work their jack. It's not a bad idea to have a few of these folks on your team.
The Mechanic: Every company has a couple of mechanics – and thank goodness. These are the people who don't really care so much about taking the journey themselves, but do care about making sure everyone else does. While the rest of their fellow travelers are focused on their destination and how to get there, the mechanics have their head under the hood and are willing to get their hands dirty. When you're managing your employees, don't forget to give your mechanics a pat on the back. They, after all, are the ones keeping everybody moving forward.
Jeanette Mulvey has been the managing editor of BusinessNewsDaily since its debut in 2010. She has written about small business for more than 20 years and formerly owned her own e-commerce business. Her column, Mind Your Business, appears on Mondays only on BusinessNewsDaily. You can follow her on Twitter at @jeanettebnd or contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.