CASE STUDY Rational and Dependent Decision-Making Styles | Project Manager | Human Behavior and Handwriting Analysis | HR and Management Series Book by S.Sulianah
The following case study is an extract from my soon to be published book under the HR and Management Series. I am starting with the case study of one of the Project Managers whom I used to worked with for 13 years. I decided to choose this first is because of its significance in the thread for the other case studies. Other than that, it will be a comprehensive story with evidence from the long-term study in a business organisation setting. In this book and its case studies, the areas that I focused on are mainly on human behavior and how a personal trait could influence the individual’s decision-making, thinking pattern, observation, communication with colleagues, perceptions, the way they speak, the way the think, outlook towards their personal goals and their credibility in a business setting. In addition to that, I had also used the science of handwriting analysis to study their characters, behaviors and possible cause and effect, if any, during the course of my observations.
Project Manager (Not real name: Lewis)
Over 30 years of work experiences
In his mid-50s
ABOUT THE PROJECT MANAGER, LEWIS
The first case study is of one of the most senior project managers in the company, Lewis. Lewis have been working in the engineering field for over 30 years with experiences as an engineer and as of this present day, a project manager.
EXPRESSING FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS (i.e. Ideas, opinions, feedback)
The first few instances that I had noticed about his character is he is not the type who will say it out loud about his concerns such as what he is feeling or thinking toward others or situations unless I start talking about it and eventually when asked for his opinions. It is one of the good points in a relationship with co-workers or with anyone as you can expect that he can be trusted and will not share information to others. Which means when I tell him to ‘Keep this information to yourself because I do not trust others’, he will keep it to himself.
There are no handwriting traits that shows he is of a secretive nature. However, it is observed that his letters O are mainly closed and so, it is more likely that he will not share the information I had shared with him to others compared to if a person writes it with an open O.
There are traits of cautiousness shown on his left slanted handwriting even though the base of his writing is fixated on the ground pulling towards the right. Lewis has the desire to move one step ahead but usually will take another step backward to be careful with the things he says. He rather kept it to himself than to define his thoughts to the person he is talking to.
Since his opinions are well-kept and will only share with me when asked, I noticed it is quite difficult to understand what he thinks based on his expressions. However, the only areas I could analyse were based on the volume and the tone of his excitement, or disappointment. He will only be more inclined to share his feelings about something when I tell him my own personal story that might be related to the matter.
Another trait which I noticed is his positive expectation towards a thing that might not be necessary for me which by nature I will not do it anyway because I do not feel like wasting my time to do something which I do not deemed required. However, his attitude towards it is more “Yes, can! Why cannot??!” even though the matter is not even possible to do it that way. The handwriting trait visible signifying this is the all-capitals throughout his handwriting. On the other hand, even though ascending baselines are associated with someone with a positive mindset or more precise, optimism, his baseline mostly varies in ascending and declining, and eventually descending towards the end.
He does trusts others easily and could not see it in another angle. So, he will believe others and tell what is in his mind or the things people told him about without probably giving it a second thought just because he had known them for years. There was an incident that at first I thought I should not have told him but I am glad now looking back that my instinct was right, to tell him. About 8 years to our work relationship, during one of our conversations, I told him to be careful with whatever he shared with a certain colleague of ours. I decided to tell this because of the situations I had observed at every different angle — what our boss knows and told me, what other employees were chatting about him and the projects he was managing, what this colleague of ours told me and also based on my years of observing, understanding and analyzing each and everyone’s style of working and communicating with one another. Even though I am not the type who will usually do this but because I noticed that this Project Manager of ours seemed to be too gullible and trust everyone, I decided to advise him to just be careful with whatever he shares in the work site with employees. Especially anything to do with his conversation with the boss. Because apparently some works were shared around when it is supposed to be kept between them. Other than that, there was a few times our boss told me about what he found out from that colleague of ours about Lewis which I knew is a one-sided perspective and assumption. I was more assured of this when that colleague of ours were saying things behind his back and also to other employees in a not friendly tone. So, when Lewis found out the reason why I had advised to him which I usually don't, he was surprised. Because all this while he trusted this colleague and he really looked shocked with what happened. Their friendship actually had became more personal with him lending money to this guy and also being involved here and there with this guy’s relationship with his girlfriend during that time. And that is why he did not expect that this guy will talk behind his back.
Another trait that I observed from his demeanour is his tendency to agree to something that might not be feasible. I assumed probably is because that he is worried that it will affect his position or what others will think about him. He used to argue back to our boss and even to colleagues including me. But that changes over time. Based on my observations, this behaviour might have changed because of the changes in the work environment. The boss’ attitude and unfairness towards individuals at some points were emerging when we were both at our tenth year in the company. What I noticed is that this Project Manager tend to agree without arguments like he used to. The present handwriting that supported this are the closed spaces between letters. The spaces are closer than the ones he wrote ten years ago. This handwriting trait signifies the desire to be associated with people around him and forge a relationship. He prefers attachments with individuals.
They said that he could not make decisions properly and not professionally. They here refers to most of the co-workers. I believed there are still bias perspectives here. Firstly, there probably were envy. Secondly, people do not look at their own weaknesses but see it clearly in others. I have worked with each and everyone of them, and I will rather choose this Project Manager to handle the company’s projects completely than 90% of the staff who were complaining about him. Thirdly, remember that colleague I told my Project Manager to be careful with. I can confidently say that he is involved in telling the other co-workers about the unpleasant opinions he had about this Project Manager. I am very sure because I noticed it happened right in front of me and also not only to him but to me, my boss, and another Project Manager. There is this tinge of emotions that he can influenced others which will embed in the mind of those he talked to. Personally, I nearly fall into that hole, but I quickly let myself out and stay away. The fourth point is they could be comparing this project manager with themselves. So as humans with different mindset which I can safely say that most of them are having more of a fixed mindset than a growth mindset, they feel that they can perform better than this project manager.
My analysis is that this Project Manager could make his own decisions, but he feel restricted because he is reporting to a boss who in reality does not really support decisions that are made not only by this project manager. Even when the boss might give a green light at first, eventually he will change his mind in front of the other team members which will give an impression that this Project Manager is not a professional and hence not a reliable manager. His colleagues feel like he couldn’t make the decision immediately and the title does not fit him which did really happened at the work sites.
This character will then show another trait which is him as someone who is not flexible when making decisions. Because for him inflexibility is equivalent to fickle mindedness which is not a good sign and is associated with not reliable. This trait can be seen from his all-capital letters handwriting. And also, the consistent straight left margins. Once he planned and made a decision, he will not change his mind.
One day, I asked him why is he writing his texts in capital letters? He said that if he writes it in cursive (which he showed me during that conversation how it looks like), he is worried that the person who is reading his reports will make a mistake. Writing with capital letters will avoid readings errors. Reading errors are common in the field he is working in. It is not impossible that a reading from an instrument can be misread because it is indecipherable to the person reading it. Reading errors could affect the entire analysis of the project.
Other than that, Lewis' decides mostly based on logic and also after he contemplates on the subject for quite some time. But surely, his decisions are not based on his emotions and moods at that time. That is why most of the time when I need to ask his opinions about matters related to policy that could be improved or his perspectives of employees’ performances, I will rather ask him. As from the perspectives of his team members who had spoken to me about their opinions, for them it seems like he takes time to decide and sometimes he could not tell them immediately what they need to do in the projects. Simply, it is because from his position, he has to look into those matters at every angle and he could not afford to make any mistake for anything under his watch.
The indisputable fact about the way he thinks is that he will share his opinions and views from the logical perspectives and not influenced by his personal feelings towards the person. Mostly too this will be consistent if I asked him again on the same subject on another time just to see whether he changes his mind. This is in contrast with another Project Manager whose case study I will write in the next article. The second Project Manager will have different opinions when asked at different time so it depends on how he feels instead of in reality what could be the reasons to his opinions of the person or situations.
The handwriting trait that can be observed from Lewis related to logical way of thinking and hence when making decisions can be observed from his upright slants (70% on his handwriting), and the left slants (30% of his handwriting).
With reference to a study done on decision-making styles by El Othman, R., El Othman, R., Hallit, R. et al., Lewis follows a more rational decision-making and at times dependent. These two styles have similarities in a way that they both are of high agreeableness and high conscientiousness. The characters that were associated with agreeableness according to this study are cooperation, morality, sympathy, low self-confidence, high level of trust in others, and happy and satisfied with close inter-relationships. As for the characters associated with conscientious are competence, hard work, self-discipline, organization, strive for achievement, goal orientation, capable of analyzing pros & cons and high level of deliberation.
During the period I was working in the company as a HR and Operational Manager, another factor I respected about this Project Manager’s work attitude is the way he follows the system. Even though we created new systems and yet to test whether it might work or maybe not in our company, he is open to new changes and will try it out. He is very consistent when he follows it. I can say in the company, he is the only Project Manager and employee who will follow each and every steps of the processes. He will also try first before saying that it did not or will not work. So, as someone who is managing the entire process in the company, this character is a plus point for an employee. And I believed this trait is also another factor that will not make him entertained any of his team members’ complacent behavior. This is evident as shown by the straight left margin of his handwriting.
The only aspect that I think he might oversee about himself is that with his reliability, his experiences, and his attitude towards his work, he could actually go far in his career as an engineer and project manager. It doesn’t matter whether what his age is. He should not feel that his age or work status in the country put a standstill to his desire to move forward and look for better opportunities. The one trait that I had suggested him to improve on his handwriting four years ago was his signature. It is the way he strikes off his signature, which might not be an obvious strike-off in the first glance. Striking-off signature signifies eliminating off oneself from the presence. I noticed individuals with strike-off signatures are usually self-distrustful, self-doubting, and do self-criticize. And if it is with smaller signature or ending last stroke to the left, usually they will portray themselves as timid, complacent, or unable to move on. As for this Project Manager, his signature size shows boldness but it is more on how he showed his confidence to the public, but probably not himself. There is tints of reluctance to move forward as shown on the strokes of his signature maintained on the specific area and not moving forward.
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