10 Common Business Scenarios Likely to Cause Friction

Humans are uniquely gifted in the ability to presume that others see the world as they do … or at least “should” see the world that way. This tendency can lead to unintended consequences – particularly in the manager to report relationships in the workplace. But you can turn natural collision points into strengths.

“A little awareness can go a long way in removing friction and conflict from the workplace,” says Tim Golden, behavioral scientist at Collaboration Insights. “Each person is guided by seven naturally preferred intelligences and five base motivators that, when combined, are often different from those with whom they are engaging.”

Golden says that a manager knowing their own brain pathways – e.g., how they are ’wired‘– and those of each direct report can make a huge difference in the success of the relationship. The core issue is that both the manager and subordinate are thinking differently.

“The data inputs may be the same for the manager and employee, but these inputs pass through the two brains on pathways that are different,” he says. “Different priorities are given to how they think, how they are motivated, and how they are ‘smart’.”

However, Golden notes that this diversity can be highly beneficial because when both parties understand their own wiring, they can more easily find common ground.

Differences in how managers and individual contributors think are often expressed in the following 10 common business scenarios.

Thinking Differently #1: Communication

There are three primary ways that individuals settle into or “onboard” information:

  • Written and Spoken
  • Charts and Graphs
  • Show and Experience

Each communication form can be an effective means for communication between a manager and report if they can both communicate in that form. However, a person’s comfort level to communication in these forms falls on a scale ranging from:

  • Challenged
  • Workable
  • Dominant
  • Dependency

If a report has a strong dependency for one communication form and a manager uses a different one, they will struggle to communicate effectively unless they seek common ground, so they are both comfortable.

“It’s amazing how many times seemingly large challenges get resolved by simple awareness into how we’re wired differently,” Golden notes.



Thinking Differently #2: Approach

A persons Approach will range from a high need for either being Engaged and Involved or Introspective and Individual. Most will fall in the middle of those ranges but for those on the edges (or beyond in some cases), differences can create conflict. A manager and an individual contributor may be very different in their Approach, and that difference can hurt the effectiveness of the relationship.

For example, a manager may be frustrated with the reaction of a team member to a question in a meeting. However, the manager may miss that person’s strong contribution because they are simply wired to need Introspective and Individual time to process before they respond.  Like with Communication, awareness into how one another is wired, their most proficient brain pathways, is critical to working optimally as a team.

Thinking Differently #3: Consistency

A third way that managers and reports may collide is in the need for Consistency. Some individuals will have a strong need for pace, pattern, rhythm, and repetition in all that they do. A few will have an intense need for this.

If a manager (or vice versa) who has no need for patterns provides pace and pattern-free assignments or has no consistent structure within meetings, the team member may struggle to fully engage. This collision point is so easily resolved with awareness, Golden notes.

“The manager just needs to recognize that those without a consistency need can easily adapt to meet the needs of those who do have a strong need for repetition.”

For example, if a report has a strong need for Consistency, the manager can help them restore rhythm and get back on by creating a step-by-step list or start a repetitive process.

Thinking Differently #4: Perspectives

Individuals whose brain pathways start with a Logic and Numbers dominant trait, may often seem closed minded. These individuals typically arrive at a conversation with a specific outcome in mind or a singularity of direction that is strongly expressed. They have predetermined that this outcome is the most logical as their brain pathway has filtered through the input data.

This can frustrate others who naturally see multiple perspectives and is either a challenger of conventional wisdom or simply open to alternative approaches. “There can be many emotional responses,” Golden notes. “Getting ‘steamrolled,’ not listening, being stubborn, not valuing my input/guidance all surface.”

This misperception – regardless of whether the manager or the individual contributor is the one with the limited perspective – can derail what could be highly valuable diversity of thought in the working relationship. The person without a strong need for Logic and Numbers needs to recognize that their teammate will likely consider other perspectives, too – if they can see the logic.

Similarly, individuals with the similar Perspectives can be challenged, either by having conflicting single perspectives or by being unable to settle on one from among the many.

Golden notes that awareness into how one another is wired can curb the frustration of those with a Logic and Numbers dominant trait and also, individual without one. As an example, a manager with the Logic and Numbers dominant trait should recognize that direct reports may have a need to share and consider alternative ideas. Giving them the freedom to do so, and genuinely listening to alternate ideas, may provide a better solution and goes a long way in making the report feel they are being heard.

Thinking Differently #5: Confidence

Team members build motivating confidence in a goal or strategy in very different ways. It is essential that a manager knows how each team member finds confidence and not presume it is the same as how they develop it.

Some team members will need to have proved something themselves before they are confident in it. Others will need to have at least tested it, while still others will trust a direction based on the experiences they have observed through others. Finally, there is a valuable group that simply believes in a successful outcome, with no verification needed.

“Perhaps the most important thing with confidence is that, in business, when one person is high in confidence and the other needs a proven strategy, they complement one another,” Golden said. “One knowing the idea will work and the other making sure al the details are taken care of to make sure the idea becomes the reality.”

Each path to confidence is equally viable and valuable. If a manager and team member have different paths, however, expecting the team member to adopt the manager’s path will likely cause the relationship to struggle, if not fail.

Thinking Differently #6: Flexibility

Flexibility or the contrasting need for structure guarantees friction if a manager and team member are wired differently. Some individuals require structure and adherence to guidelines. In contrast, other individuals are highly intuition driven, applying past experiences to the situation.

Others still are “rules optional” in their mindset, seeing rules or structure as generally good unless another option seems more logical to them. Finally, a large group views guidelines as good but do not feel bound to them like those with a “structure a must” brain pathway.

Little thought is needed to see how thinking differently about flexibility sets up a manager and team member for friction, especially if one is “structure is a must” wired. Awareness of these differences, however, is once again key to avoiding relationship collisions.

“While each party may find the other’s propensities challenging, both bring diverse value and benefit to the relationship. Understanding the differences is what is needed to unlock it,” Golden observes.

Thinking Differently #7: Focus

How individuals think differently about focus can lead to unintended conflict if there isn’t awareness into what drives the focus. There are four groups of individuals:

  1. Out of Focus
  2. Creative Solutions Focused
  3. Task Focused
  4. Accomplishment Focused

Those who are challenged to focus naturally – tagged Out of Focus – need the manager’s help staying engaged. Those classified as Creative Solutions Focused provide an interesting opportunity for the manager. Out of Focus and Creative Solutions individuals likely need to be paired with someone who is Task Focused. These individuals bring the ability to see other ways to accomplish a task or objective. “Their lack of focus gives them license to see creative possibilities. A manager can foster this contribution if they are aware of the person’s focus approach. Without awareness, they will likely just be frustrated,” said Golden.

Both Task Focused and Accomplishment Focused individuals drive to complete an assignment. But they do so very differently and need to be managed differently. The Accomplishment Focused will be reach near “workaholic” levels in the pursuit of accomplishing what is set before them. This can be powerful for productivity but create friction between them and others who are not focused at this level of intensity. They also are either all in, or all out if they get derailed or lose interest.

Task Focused individuals are equally committed to completing a task, but not at the expense of everything else around them. They also can be counted to move forward to completion and are less likely to be derailed when things do not go as planned.

As a manager and team member, awareness and understanding of how each other find focus is key to a strong relationship.

Thinking Differently #8: Fun

Fun, defined as enjoying what one is doing, is either required for motivation or has little impact on it. For the manager, knowing if an employee requires fun to stay motivated is very helpful. Alternatively, motivation for these individuals will wane.

“Don’t just expect someone to have fun doing a task they might not love,” Golden emphasized. “Get out of the way and let the person create the fun they need to accomplish the task.”

Encouraging fun benefits other team members, too. While they may not require fun, they often enjoy it and find those requiring fun entertaining.

Thinking Differently #9: Multitasking

How an individual’s brain pathways process interruptions differently is a potential land mine for a manager and team member. Some individuals can jump in and out of projects with ease while others find any disruption of a routine nearly derailing.

Managers should respect the need for those who are wired to be task-focused or the run the risk of seriously impacting productivity. Direct reports also need to respect leaders who also are must more productive when they are allowed to complete tasks in blocks of time without interruption.

Thinking Differently #10: Recognition

Recognition and motivation are closely aligned but individual team members vary widely in what form of recognition motivates them. The unaware manager can easily misperceive a team member’s lack of response to recognition as indifference when in fact the manager was indifferent to the form of recognition needed. Golden recommends taking time to know and understand the recognition preference of each team member as it can pay big dividends.

All 10 of these “thinking differently” ways that can cause manager to team member challenges are available as 1:1 Share-and-Compare Meters in the yüMIvü People Chemistry Platform from Collaboration Insights. Further, 1:1 comparison along with individual profiles, and the meters Friction Finder and Staying Motivated are included in the free version of yüMIvü.  To access this functionality, interested managers can create a personal account and then invite team members into a Group with them.

To learn more about yüMIvü from Collaboration Insights, visit www.yumivu.com.