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Is it possible for a person to change his/her personality and character?  I am unhappy with myself because my subordinates do not approach me voluntarily.  My peers and their subordinates have an open communication and they seem to enjoy their interactions.  How can I change my image to my subordinates and in the company for that matter?  I don’t want to lose some of my subordinates who are talented and high potential.  Because of the serious expression of my face (I don’t have a smiling countenance), my keeping to myself, and speaking to my employees only when the topic is related to their tasks and in a business like manner, they are distant to me.  I even eat my lunch on my desk alone.  They are also formal with me and don’t come to me except when I call them.  I want to change myself to have a good relationship with my subordinates, particularly with those I want to keep.  How can I begin to change?

                                                                                    Mr. Formal Looking


Yes, you can change your personality and your character.  Your personality predisposes you to certain behaviors.  For example, your being an introvert predisposes you to want to be by yourself and to prefer to work alone.  This you can change by changing your mindset about yourself and about people i.e., you want to interact with them, and they with you, during break time instead of being by yourself.  Take your cup of coffee with you and go around saying “hello” to each of your subordinates and smiling as you do so.


Your character is the totality of your being such as being patient, kind, generous, tolerant, etc.  When you start to see people as your subordinates, as having value in the eyes of God and that the Lord expects you to love and respect them, you’ll have a different perspective.  What behaviors show respect, kindness and consideration to people?  Do these repeatedly.  Repetition of positive behavior makes this a habit.  This leads to change in your being, in your character.  “Watch your thoughts, they become your words./ Watch your words, they become your actions./ Watch your actions they become your habits./ Watch your habits they become your character./ Watch your character, it will shape your destiny.” by Frank Outlaw.  True, isn’t it?


The image people have of you depends on what they see you do and say, repeatedly.  To change the image, you have to change your behavior and do this consistently.


Steps in the Change Process:  It is easy for you to change because this is a DOY, that is, it depends on you.  The change process consists of 3 steps:  First, having a strong motivation to change.  This you now have.  Second, translate motivation into action.  Third, give yourself a pat on the back each time you do it.


For Step 2, look at yourself in the mirror and have a smiling countenance in your eyes and lips.  Practice this.  Upon waking up in the morning have a grateful heart.  Thank God that you have a job in a good company, that you have a good position and that you have people working with and for you.  A grateful disposition makes you happy.  Show this happiness in your smiling countenance.  Resolve to put on this smiling countenance the minute you enter your company.  Greet the security guard, the receptionist and then your staff.  Make sure that you look at them and that you are smiling when you greet them.  When you are able to do this, give yourself an “I did it!” smile of approval.


Instead of asking a subordinate to come to your office, go to his work area, and take a seat beside him.  Then say, “Hello, can I have a word with you?”  Then proceed to deliver your message.  Then ask, “Did I explain that clear enough?” instead of “Do you understand?” or “Is that clear?”  Then thank him for listening.  Smile when you do this.  You will feel awkward the first time you do this because this is not your usual mode of communication.  Expect also that your employees will look at each other, raise their eyebrow, and/or talk with each other about what you’ve “eaten” (“Ano kaya ang nakain?” is the usual remark.) to make you change your ways.  Be happy that they notice the changes in your behavior.


Continue to do these behaviors until they become habits with you, always congratulating yourself and feeling good about yourself that you have managed to change your ways.


Ways of Motivating and Keeping Your Employees.  The best ways of making your employees motivated and keeping all of them, not just the talented and high potentials, are the following:


  1. If you like what they did, give them a positive feedback immediately, using the I-message formula:  I + your feeling + for their behavior/their work.  Ex. “I like the way you did your report.  The data are well presented and well organized.”  Make sure that you have eye contact and are smiling while saying this.


  1. If there are errors, point them out in private.  Use also the I-message, this time looking serious.  “I’m disappointed at the late submission of your report, despite our agreement that it should be submitted on Tuesday since I need your data to make my own report that is due on Thursday morning.  I know that if you write this down in your “To Do” list for Monday, you’ll be able to submit it as agreed upon.  Then both of us will be happy.”  End the interaction on a positive note by a positive message and smiling.


For more on feedback that makes a difference.  I wrote a series of articles published in the Sunday Inquirer, Job Market Section, dated July 24-30, 2011, July 31- August 6, 2011, September 4-10, 2011 and September 11-17, 2011.  Let me know if you want these emailed to you.


  1.  Coach your subordinate to do something new, or to follow a new procedure or a new technology, or to improve on what he is doing.  Demonstrate how it should be done.  Then ask them to repeat the instruction or the procedure.  “Do you think you can show me how it’s done?”   When he is doing this, look at the person with a smile on your face and nodding your head in approval.


Then when you see improvement in his performance, give an immediate positive feedback with a smiling face.  When you don’t see any improvement, call him in private, and ask what the difficulty is.  Listen attentively.  Then repeat what you have coached him.  Then smile again.


When you do coaching, you not only develop your team member; you empower him to do some of the tasks you do, thereby minimizing your stress.


More importantly, coaching contributes to the development and strengthening of positive relationships between the leader and team members.  You gain their respect.  You enhance your self-esteem.


  1. Tell them how important their work is and how it contributes to your section’s output and goal.  Tell them how your section’s output and goal contribute to the achievement of the department’s goal, etc.  It’s important for them to see the impact of their work on the over-all goal of the company.  Recognition of their work and of their worth is a powerful motivator, and one of the important factors to work engagement.


  1. As much as possible, take your lunch break with them.  If they eat in the pantry, eat there, too.  Engage them in conversation about current events that you read about in the newspapers or see on TV.  Don’t talk about work.   Make the atmosphere relaxed.


As you do these, you will see improvements in yourself, in your subordinates’ interactions with you and in your relationships.  You have overcome the weaknesses of your character and personality.  This gives you a sense of achievement, and makes you happy.  And smiling has become a habit with you as well.


God bless you.



Josie O. Santamaria