The Helicopter View
By Robin Currie
People—every equipment distribution company’s best asset. Your staff can also pose your company’s biggest challenge as well. One way to best understand your employees is to gain some knowledge about Karl Jung and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. These theories assist us in learning about ourselves and others through 1 of 16 four-letter type references. The most common of the 16 type combinations is “ESFJ”, which accounts for 12.3% of the total population. The significant letter to recognize here is the perceiving function identified with the “S” abbreviation. This indicates, according to the Myers-Briggs Model, a “Sensing” type, or one who prefers to focus on tangible facts and real, verifiable data.
Although the “ESFJ” type is only 12.3% of the population, the overwhelming majority of people, when assessed, report a preference for information gathering that is based upon literal and present realities. In fact, the “S” factor can be found in 73% of the total population. Sensing types generally tend to want practical data, build their conclusions carefully, are pragmatic, look to the “bottom line,” and rely on experiences over theories. Think of the phrase, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Does that sound like you? As a dealer principal or an executive in an industrial equipment distribution enterprise, you are in good company.
The profile of the typical dealer principal and executive that Currie Management Consultants, Inc. works with is “ISTJ.” Studies have shown that 11.6% of the population are considered “ISTJ” types, and 15.2% of all managers are believed to assess as “ISTJ’s” as well. The additional indicators (I, T, and J) can be explained in subsequent articles, but for now let’s connect what we now know about the dealer principal type, the “ISTJ”, and how it relates to the annual MHEDA DiSC Report. Hopefully you have your copy handy for reference.
Why the “S” type is important. The people in this category are described by type professionals as facilitators, caretakers and committed builders. “S” types, and particularly “ISTJ” types, are further described as having a sense of duty, being organized and methodical in their approach to the workplace, and having a respect for the law and tradition. But what many of Currie’s Dealer Principal clients have also demonstrated is the preference to work according to procedures, plans, structure and an adherence to doing things “by the book.” This combination is a recipe for success in a distribution company.
This year’s MHEDA DiSC Reports for Industrial Truck and for Engineered Systems/Storage & Handling shine a light on Operational Excellence. That section, which can be found in “The Guide to Management Action,” talks about the many sensory factors that are vital to the flow of success in the company. Also, by developing the Preview, which can be found only in the Industrial Truck Report, the Currie team has created a document that will provide timely and critically important data to the management team. This is a document that we expect all management to be interested in.
The first section of the Preview is called “Critical Measures.” In it, all participating companies can instantly realize the results of liquidity measures, absorption, return on assets and the like. The Preview also assists the sensing dealer principal in keeping his or her finger on the pulse of the company’s expense control, plus employee productivity measures. All of our owners and executives who are gifted sensing types rely tirelessly upon this snapshot of “what it looks like when it’s right.”
Why we need intuitive types. Intuition is the opposing preference in the perceiving function dichotomy. Although most successful distribution companies are run by sensing types, it’s important to understand how the intuitive types function, and it’s important to learn how the talents of that population can best be leveraged within your enterprise. Remember, 73% of people are sensing types, and 27% are intuitive types. Here’s a quick profile of the intuitive type of person:
- Focusing on future possibilities is a guiding principle
- The ability to see the “big picture” is invaluable
- Identifying patterns and making connections is a special talent
- Creating and relying on innovative ideas drives this type
- Pet phrase of the intuitive: “What if?”
The MHEDA DiSC Report is designed to demonstrate the necessity that all distributors effectively manage their sensory data (facts, proven experiences, etc.) as well as the intuitive flow of information. The portions of the annual report that sensing executives will enjoy most are:
- Guide to Management Action. Each year, the “Guide to Management Action” is designed to engage both types – sensing and intuitive. This year, the study of The Guide will lead you to recognize that Managing Conflict (Part One) and the creation of a Talent Strategy (Part Two) are areas that involve the intuitive process. The execution of Operational Excellence (Part Three) is an area where a strong sensing person will take the helm.
- The Preview. As described above, the Preview is a new feature this year in the Industrial Truck Report, which enables all managers to take a snapshot of the critical data that drives the business every day.
- Section Three – Industrial Truck Data Analysis. Here’s where the data comes to life and we define the totality of the survey, what story the numbers tell us, and what questions arise out of the quantitative results. This section also contains detailed descriptions of what the various charts and tables are telling us.
- Section Four – Volume Comparison Tables. This is often the most important piece of the MHEDA DiSC Report. Executives view the results of all participating distribution companies, high-performing distribution companies, and average and median results of all participating companies, broken out into segmented volume groups.
- Section Five – Focus Area. The detail of service department performance (this year’s Focus Area topic) is always a study of facts, logic, data, mathematics and structured processes.
The MHEDA DiSC Report also contains portions where intuitive understanding is critical. These sections consist of:
- Guide to Management Action. Managing Conflict and Talent Strategy (Parts One and Two) are areas where it is important to take the “big picture” approach.
- Currie Reading List. Each year, Currie Management Consultants, Inc. distributes a list, based upon a current theme, which further challenges investors, owners, executives and all management people. Continuous study leads to continuous improvement in any venture. As mentioned on Page 22 of the Industrial Truck Report, and Page 17 of the Engineered Systems/Storage & Handling Report, all associates within an enterprise must have a comprehensive continuous development plan in place.
- This year’s Global Workforce Study is a lengthy discussion of the importance of engagement among a workforce. The information contained in the study is quite valuable and should be required reading for all management.
All industrial equipment distribution companies are made up of a wide variety of personality types. It is critically important for all business superheroes to learn how to identify the various natures within their organization, and how best to leverage the individual types, work styles, and talents of each employee. This article takes the helicopter view of the MHEDA DiSC Report and has sought to describe why each particular section, and why the style with which the information is communicated, is so important.
Robin Currie is with Currie Management consultants, Inc., located in Worcester, Massachusetts, and on the web at www.curriemanagement.com.