Using Psychology As A Modern-Day Manager

August 13, 2013

Modern-day managers need to have a greater understanding of human psychology. This can provide enormous benefits for appreciating what makes their team members tick.

There are three key areas of human psychology that we can appreciate about people in our teams and it is these three that will affect the performance of the individual.

1. Behaviours

What we see on the outside of a person are the behaviours and not necessarily the true person beneath. It is too easy to judge people purely on our interpretation on those behaviours. A first impression of a person or a situation is usually made within 5 seconds.

It has been estimated by scientists that there are approximately 5 million bits of information being received by our bodies through our five senses every second. As we can only cope with between five and nine bits of information our brain filters this data by deleting, distorting or generalising using our experiences and beliefs. Unfortunately, this means we often jump to a conclusion based upon restricted information.

In order to understand people properly as managers we need to recognise what is happening in our heads and suspend judgement. By taking time to gather further information, it is likely that we will be better informed. This will include giving team members the opportunity to explain their perspective in any given situation. Often by taking this approach you are more likely to prevent conflict or risk demotivating someone based upon a misunderstanding.

2. Motivators

There are two elements in terms of understanding motivation that are useful to any manager. First there is what motivates teams of people to become high performing teams. These include making sure everyone is clear about the vision of the team and how this links to the organisation vision.

The second is about what motivates an individual in the team. Many managers still treat everybody the same despite the fact that people are different. Some also think that they know what motivates people and then get it wrong. Managers who believe that everybody is primarily motivated will be making a huge mistake even in a sales team!

Managers who have a better understanding of psychology make the time to ask people about their motivators at work and then use this information to get the best of them.

Values & Beliefs

Every person has core values and beliefs which affect the way they see the world.These are also key elements to understanding people in our team. Many people will not reveal or share some of these values and beliefs unless they feel comfortable doing so. Others have not shared them because no one has taken the trouble to ask.

In terms of finding out the values and beliefs of people in your team there are a few different approaches. Firstly asking people what is important to them in terms of their work will often bring out their key values attached to working. It is important not to prompt in this situation to ensure that it is their values and not yours!

The second method is to have team building activities where employees are encouraged to ‘open up’ and share things about themselves that not many people know about them.

Another method is to use some of the analysis tools available such as DISC profiling available through MTD. The reports provided by these profiling tools enable the employee to gain a better understanding of themselves as well the manager. If you would like to find out more please contact us.

Many thanks

Stuart Allen

Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training

(Image by Ambro at

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