Away From or Towards People – how it impacts your working life

In my last blog post, I looked at Melanie Greene’s thoughts on what being an Away From or a Towards person meant. Here Melanie explores what these traits can mean for your work, your business, your staff, your customers.

Towards People are motivated by results and rewards, as well as by the intrinsic enjoyment that they get from the work that they do. Away From people, however, tend to be motivated by their fears and reducing pain.

Providing good customer service – Some of your staff will be motivated to provide good customer service because they want customers to be happy and they enjoy doing that. Others will be motivated because they do not want customer complaints or having their manager monitoring their behaviour. Some, of course, will fall in between.

Promotions – When people are considering promotion to a higher position, with more responsibilities, a Towards person might be excited about the new challenges, the more influence they will have in the company and the increased salary. An Away From person might be thinking that ‘with more money comes more responsibilities’, therefore more worries and more problems, and then decide that it is not worth it.

For sales people – Towards people are motivated by the sales targets, bonuses, the holidays that they are either given as a bonus or that they can now afford with the money they have earned. While sales people who are Away From People are motivated by avoiding the embarrassment of not hitting their targets or how badly they will feel if they do not get the sale. It’s important for managers of all staff, not just sales staff, to recognise these differences, as they need to motivate each individual in different ways.

Living or working with your opposite

If you are living with your opposite, you might be finding them very annoying or frustrating. If you are managing them at work, you might be at a loss as to how to support and motivate them. However, if you can understand, both where you and they are coming from, you can then adapt your communication style to help lead, support and motivate them. Here’s an example:

  • With Away From people, think about talking about how the new idea, process, promotion or holiday so to reduce their pain and inconvenience. However, be careful not to overdo the emphasis on their fears, as they might end up being defensive.
  • With Towards people, it is about selling the benefits, the pleasures and enjoyment that they will get with whatever you are trying to persuade them to do or get them on board with.

So if you are like me, an Away From person and trying to get a big task completed by a deadline, find out what their fears are and tap into how they can avoid them. This will help them move forward. Whereas for a Towards person, it might be about painting a picture of how great it will feel when they have completed the task.

How have you approached a big deadline – with rewards at the end or the thought of embarrassing yourself or others if you don’t complete in time? Let us know your thoughts and stories.