Giving Constructive Criticism Based on PI Profile
Just as some people have a faster metabolism than others, people with vastly different personalities will digest feedback differently. How handy would it be to have a quick reference guide to help you figure that out? Here’s a quick guide to approaching constructive criticism based on PI reference profile.
Let’s start with the “Analytical” PI Reference Profiles. Those in this group are more dominant than extraverted and tend to work at a faster pace. They are generally more task-oriented as opposed to people-oriented. Be direct with all of them. They include: Analyzer, Controller, Specialist, Strategist, and Venturer.
Analyzer (Intense, with high standards and a disciplined and reserved personality): They prefer direct communication, specific examples, enough data to support your point of view, and a bit of time to think about what you’ve shared before responding or taking action. They are not afraid of difficult conversations, but don’t want to be told what to do. Discuss options and let them make their own decisions as much as possible. You might want to give them some advance notice as to what you want to discuss so they have time to think about it, gather their thoughts and data, and come prepared.
Controller (detail-oriented and conservative, with a preference for high quality and technical expertise): As with all analytical profiles, direct communication is key. Be straightforward with them, but respectful of their expertise. Like Analyzers, give them specific details and facts, not opinions. Since Controllers like to do things right (or “by the book” as we often say), make sure they have clearly defined responsibility, goals, and action plans. That will help them know what they are aiming for and to stay on track.
Specialist (highly precise, skeptical, while still respecting authority): Specialist have a lower A Factor (Dominance) than the other analytical profiles. They may be quieter, more reserved, and may need more time to think before they respond, so practice “holding the space” quietly for them to think. Don’t rush to fill the silence with talk. They are careful and cautious and rely heavily on their knowledge, training, and experience. Give them recognition for their specialized skills to help them feel secure and offer training or other expert support when you are asking them to improve performance or learn new things. They want to avoid or mitigate risk, so make sure to confirm that they are clear on what’s expected of them.
Strategist (results-oriented, innovative, and analytical, with a drive for change): Strategists are independent, analytical, calculated risk-takers. They are big picture thinkers who don’t want to be micro-managed. Direct communication and focusing on results, rather than specific ways to achieve those results will give them the control and freedom they want and need. They can thrive under pressure, and that can motivate them.
Venturer (self-starter, self-motivated, goal-oriented risk-taker): Keep discussions big picture and focus on getting to agreement on what results are needed and why they might matter to the Venturer. Keep things simple and not too detailed. Be prepared for some push-back – Venturers are not afraid of conflict or confrontation. Avoid over-complicating things and give them freedom to take action quickly.
The “Social” PI Reference Profiles are highly extraverted (high B Factor) compared to their other behavioral drives. They tend to focus on relationships in the workplace, so make sure you lead with the people aspect and relationship aspect of the situation. These Reference Profiles include: Altruist, Captain, Collaborator, Maverick, Persuader, and Promoter.
Altruist (congenial and cooperative, with an efficient, precise work ethic): Altruists are great collaborators and team-players. Their style of communication – just like most of the other Social Profiles – is more persuasive than direct, so modify your approach to a less direct communication style. Altruists want to know how they can help, so frame your feedback to them in a way to show them how the change of performance or behavior will positively impact the team as well as themselves. Give guidelines, a time frame for the results to be achieved, and let them know you’ll be there to talk it through with them along the way. Give them variety and a fast-paced environment to keep them engaged.
Captain (problem-solver who likes change and innovation while controlling the big picture): Captains are one of two Social Profiles that prefer more direct communication (and may be more blunt and direct themselves). They are independent and competitive. Give them a challenge and let them determine how they want to resolve the issue. Let them talk it through with you and encourage their enthusiasm. Give them the flexibility they crave and avoid too detailed a message.
Collaborator (friendly, understanding, willing team player): The Collaborator is the most patient of the Social Profiles, so give them time to adapt to change and do your best to provide a steady work pace and harmonious work environment. When dealing with stress or challenges, they need you to listen and be a sounding board for them. If they must make a difficult decision (especially one that will affect other members of their team), give them support and help them see how that decision is necessary for the good of the team, client, or organization. Like the Altruist, they are helpful, empathetic, and team oriented.
Maverick (innovative, “outside the box” thinker, who is undaunted by failure): The name of this Reference Profile says it all. Tell them something can’t be done and you’re likely to hear, “Here. Hold my beer…” Their self-confidence and independent streak drive them to challenge the status quo. Depending on their individual A/B relationship, they may be somewhat more direct or persuasive in their preferred communication style, but you will always know where you stand with a Maverick. So be open to lively discussions. Give them freedom, flexibility and independence in deciding how they will get the results you agree to. Remind them of the details that are critically important.
Persuader (Socially poised, motivating team builder who is comfortable with risk): Communication is key to the Persuader. They are gregarious and extraverted and can usually create energy and enthusiasm in whatever situation they find themselves. Their communication style is persuasive, focused of the people aspect and how their ideas will impact people and relationships. They are ambitious, so explaining how any changes you want to see them demonstrate will enhance their ability to rise in the ranks is likely to get you buy-in from them. They like a challenge and want the freedom to determine how they will get to the results on which you’ve agreed. They may need a little reminder from you on following up on important details.
Promoter (casual, uninhibited, persuasive extravert with a tendency for informality): Promoters are the ultimate marketers. If they are enthusiastic about something, they can’t help but share it with everyone they meet. Being liked may be more important to them than results. Since they don’t want to let you down, frame your critical feedback to them in a way that will let them know that you care about how they are viewed by others and how making the necessary changes to their behavior or performance will have a positive impact. Set aside time to talk things through and don’t forget to touch on more personal issues (family, home) rather than just all business.
The ”Stabilizing Reference Profiles” have a lower amount of Dominance (A Factor) and Extraversion (B Factor), with a high Patience (C Factor) and Formality (D Factor). People with profiles in the Stabilizing group are generally steady, detailed, and work well with structure and processes. This group includes: Adapter, Artisan, Guardian, and Operator.
Adapter (a bridge-builder who is comfortable with changing situations): Adapters tend to have a narrow pattern, with no significantly predominant drive. This can make them hard to read at times. This gives them situational flexibility and a fair amount of versatility. To figure out what their strongest personal drives are, have a conversation with them. This may give you insight into how to have a difficult discussion with them. See which other Reference Profile they most closely resemble for additional guidance and refer back to that paragraph in this article.
Artisan – the Reference Profile formerly known as Craftsman (accommodating, analytical with a focus on producing highly precise and accurate work): While the name of this Reference Profile has changed, the drives and motivating needs remain the same. Artisans take pride in their work and never want to do a sloppy job or make a mistake. When giving them critical feedback, you may find they are more sensitive to criticism than their normal behavior would lead you to expect. Be positive, constructive, specific, and provide details of the situation that you are addressing. Give them time to think about it and come back to you later. They learn best by hands-on practice, so when a skill needs improvement, give them training and time to learn the process. When change is occurring, give them time to review their current processes and determine how this will impact them. You’ll get less resistance when you give them some time.
Guardian (unselfish and approachable with a preference for detailed, skill-based work): Guardians strive to avoid conflict as well as making mistakes. Like the Artisan, give them time to learn and adapt to changes in the workplace. They are diligent in their approach to work, so may take criticism to heart. Frame your feedback in a way to show you appreciate their contribution to the team, and how the changes you are seeking will make them even more valuable to you, the team, and the organization. When asking them to learn new skills or modify their way of doing things, make sure to give them the training they need to feel confident that they can do the work to their exacting standards.
Operator (patient, conscientious, relaxed, and cooperative team worker): Security and a steady pace of work appeal to Operators. Like the Artisan and the Guardian, they need time to adapt to changes in their work and training so they can do it right. So do your best to give them advance notice when changes are going to impact their work. Like all the Stabilizing Reference Profiles, they are careful and cautious with a drive to avoid risk or making mistakes. Be specific in your feedback and give them time to think. Wherever possible, avoid frequently changing priorities.
Now we come to the last group – the “Persistent Reference Profiles.” They are more dominant (A Factor) than extraverted (B Factor), with a high amount of patience (C Factor). In the workplace, people with these profiles are generally task-oriented, deliberate, and thrive when they have control of their own work. This group includes: Individualist and Scholar.
Individualist (highly independent and persistent, while remaining results-oriented): When giving critical feedback to an Individualist, be direct, but allow them to develop and act on their own ideas. Challenge them and present the issue as a problem for them to solve since they are creative problem-solvers. Give them time to figure out what approach they want to take, but follow up to make sure critical timelines are being met.
Scholar (accurate, reserved, imaginative, who seeks a high level of technical expertise): Scholars tend to be quiet and reserved, but when they speak they do so in an authoritative/direct communication style. Give them direct and specific/detailed feedback when entering into a critical conversation with them. Have your facts handy because they my challenge the accuracy of your statements. Like all Low B Factor profiles, they need time to think and analyze the data. When possible, give them advance notice of the topic of your discussion and maybe even an article or report they can review and digest prior to the meeting. Their confidence comes in large part from their knowledge, training, and expertise, so give them training when new skills to techniques are being introduced.
In conclusion, every person is a unique individual, and their PI Reference Profile gives us insight into that aspect of who they are and what they need. You will also want to take into consideration their values, culture, etc., when preparing to give critical feedback. I encourage you to reach out to your PI Midlantic consultant if you are dealing with a particularly challenging situation. Their expertise can help you comprehend the nuances that may make all the difference in creating a positive environment for having those challenging discussions.