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10 Aug 2015

Working with Detail Oriented Personality Type

The detail oriented personality type sees the world a bit differently than the rest of us.

The detail oriented personality type sees many things where the rest of us only see one thing.

Building corporate culture often means meshing many different personalities. Many firms have need for employees with a detail oriented personality type. Working with them can be challenging.

Kim Kozak, a Talent Management Consultant, has run into this. In a Twitter exchange, she asked for advice on “being on project with folks needing minutia-level specifics to feel confident moving” forward.

Understanding the Detail Oriented Personality Type

In the organizational culture, there are many different emotional reasons for the detail oriented personality type. They tend to fall into three types.

There is the type that finds security in details. Details give her the sense that she will not fail. Exploring them also postpones decisions, another common fear.

A second type looks at details as a path to learning and growing. She finds that she will understand the problem or project better.

Finally, the third type looks at details as a way to master a situation. Seeks to become the recognized expert.

All detail oriented people will be some mix of these three. One type will be dominant though.

Common Problem

For those of us who are not as detailed oriented, the detail oriented personality type presents some common problems. They all tend to have one central theme: the ever long pursuit of more details.

The first type wants these details so she can be more secure. The second so she can solve the problem better. The third so she can be more the expert.

This is similar to trying to achieve perfection. As Kim noted, this can drastically slow down a project.

Moving Them Forward

The key strategy for moving the detail oriented personality type forward has five parts:

Breaking the project into smaller parts prevents the wondering through oceans of details. We contain their focus by working one part at a time. Follow up allows us to see what details they have uncovered. We can then help them reprioritize their focus. We then shorten time frames.

For all three types of the detail oriented personality type, we assure them that other opportunities will arise either to protect them from failure, to learn more or to be recognized as the expert. Coupled with this, it helps if we assure them that they are only advising. We or someone else will make the actual decision.

In a perfect world, we would have infinite time to explore the details. Reality is not like that. At some point we must move forward. We will need to adapt as unexpected details arise. This is only normal.

The key is reminding the detail oriented personality type that there will always be more opportunities to fix mistakes, explore and stand out.

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