3 Secrets for Understanding Your Employees

Here are three things every CEO should understand about employees to improve employee relations.

It’s likely that you have heard of personality assessment tools that measures dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness (or a DISC profile). If you are really into personal and professional development you may have heard about the Innermetrix Values Index, which measures individual drive and motivation.

I’ve always been skeptical of these types of tests, but lately I’ve begun to understand their credibility — especially when it comes to the workforce and hiring employees. Recently I heard behavioral analyst Steve Sisler speak on these topics at an event for the Colorado Chapter of Entrepreneur’s Organization. Here are three main things I learned from his talk that CEO’s should understand to improve employee relations:


  1. Stop thinking about your employees as if they’re like you.

    They’re not. They are not motivated the same way as you are and they don’t process things the same way you do. As Steve Sisler says, “We don’t see people as they are, we see them as we are.” Individuals are all wired uniquely, and it’s up to you to discover and understand exactly what makes each of your people tick.

    Jason Eckenroth, CEO and Founder of ShipCompliant, a company that provides regulatory compliance and supply chain automation for the U.S. alcohol industry, had this to say about his experiences working with Sisler: “I have begun to see people for their nature and to judge less if their approach is different than the approach I would take. My company would not exist if it were filled just with my clones. Instead we have a great mix of booster rockets, maintainers, safety and project managers.”

  2. Stop rewarding employees the same way you want to be rewarded.

    As a founder or CEO, its easy to try to reward employees in the way that you’d like to be rewarded. That’s natural. But unfortunately, it doesn’t always work.

    Unique individuals require unique rewards. For instance, I’d rather make ten thousand cold calls than give someone a performance review. It is really difficult for me. Besides all the obvious reasons why it’s important to give regular performance reviews, Sisler says that some employees crave this kind of direct, ongoing feedback. They need to hear aloud that they’re doing a great job. But for others, it terrifies them. It’s up to you to know which of your employees need which kind of feedback.

  3. Don’t match a person to a position; match a personality type to a role.

    We often sign up for jobs we’re not well-suited for (i.e., such as me giving performance reviews.). However, it’s essential to understand not just what your people are capable of, but how to put them in a role that’s going to allow them to be the most effective.

    Fellow entrepreneur, Eckenroth, told me that because he started understanding his people better he was able move people to the right positions and approach them with greater empathy. “It is unnerving to have someone so easily point out your strengths and weaknesses but this actually empowered me. I could more easily manage against that weakness. It helped me quickly focus on my team member’s strengths, and to quit pushing them in areas that only highlighted their weaknesses,” he says.


Sarah Schupp is the CEO and founder of UniversityParent.com, the #1 site for college parents to find everything they need to help their student succeed. Follow her on Twitter @Sarah_Schupp.


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