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Leading Expressives: Strategies to Increase Employee Performance

By Susan Hall

Leading Expressives: Strategies to Increase Employee Performance

Do you lead or work with an individual who loves to share ideas? Do they get frustrated with micromanagement? You are probably working with an Expressive. Susan Hall and Tim Deuitch discuss strategies to be more versatile and successful when managing or working with coworkers who display the Expressive social style.

Susan Hall: 00:01  Hi everyone and welcome to the Strategic Insights Podcast brought to you by Strategic Enhancement Group. I'm Susan Hall, Vice President of Business Development and Performance Improvement, and today I'm joined by Tim Deuitch, Senior Performance Consultant at Strategic Enhancement Group. Welcome, Tim.

Tim Deuitch: 00:18  Hi, it's great to be here, Susan. Thanks.

Susan Hall: 00:23  Always great to have you. This podcast is one of a series that addresses the challenges we often feel when working with clients and coworkers that have different communication styles from ourselves. 

There are four styles that we will be speaking to. The Analytical style is task focused. They're deliberate, thoughtful, and prefer process. The Expressive style is people focused. They're very verbal, they think out loud, they're creative and demonstrative. The Amiable style is also people focused. They're diligent, they prefer harmony and collective input. The Driver is task and results oriented, wants to get to the point, and they use their time wisely. 

Each podcast will address one of these styles, and today we're going to be talking about the Expressive colleague or employee. We'll start with the characteristics of the Expressive style and then share several practical tips and action steps that you can take to interact more effectively with your expressive coworkers and also employees for better relationships and results.

Expressives are people people, they put a high value on relationships, and they tend to use a lot of facial gestures and body language when they communicate. Tim, what are some of the other behavioral cues you see from expressives?

Tim Deuitch: 01:44  Well, a few things. One is, they tend to influence by telling. You don't need to draw too much out of them, they're right at you. They make statements, as opposed to being more subtle. They also love to solve problems. They're idea people, they're that employee that has an idea for almost everything. And I'll say this in a positive vein, they can change their minds, they're not dug in all the time. Yesterday's strongly expressed opinion can be replaced by a new and also strong opinion today, especially if they received new information.

Susan Hall: 02:25  Absolutely and they love to process out loud. They tend to be creative people. They're good at brainstorming and very passionate. They can be inspirational and charismatic. On the other hand, there is some frustration sometimes in working with Expressives. What are some of those frustrations that you've experienced Tim?

Tim Deuitch: 02:47  They can talk a lot and sometimes it's in circles because they do think out loud, as you say, they process thoughts out loud. They interrupt because even while you're sharing something, their mind is still going and they'll think of something and interrupt you sometimes. 

Related to that, as they can sometimes take an agenda or the focus off track, they'll go on that tangent. This is the coworker who asked you if you have a minute and then tells you a 10 minute story. Sometimes they'll ask a question and then they'll answer it themselves, instead of giving you the chance to answer, and that can be frustrating to people. Lastly, sometimes they're excessive approach, their dialogue, makes them late to meetings or they prolong meetings to make a point about some element that may be or may not be relevant.

Susan Hall: 03:46  Right. With all this in mind, let's talk about some very specific actions you can take when dealing with an Expressive coworker or employee that brings out the best of their style and also helps with the focusing that we've talked about. 

One is, Expressives are motivated by recognition, a ticker tape is not too much fanfare for most Expressives, you can recognize their accomplishments in a team meeting, a public forum. It should certainly be relevant to the business, but make it fun as well. 

I think also secondly, keep the discussion moving forward in focus, but don't force the process. Expressives like flexibility when they work, they want to achieve the goal, but they also want to put their own stamp on things. 

And then third, be clear about scope and deadlines. How about you Tim, what are your thoughts in terms of coaching or working with Expressives?

Tim Deuitch: 04:44  My first thought is one that can be very tough for people who are perhaps, introverted or who are real process people. That first thought is, make time for them, let them be who they are. Be prepared to listen, and problem solve, and brainstorm with them. Ask them directly for their opinion and thought so that they can get it out, because they're going to want to get it out eventually, inviting that early is often very helpful. 

Other things like, check in occasionally to see how things are going. Expressives want to hear from you, they don't want to be micromanaged, but they are happy to have somebody just look in the door and say, "Hey, how's that going, what's new with that thing that you're working on?" 

Strangely, they also like some structure to operate within, and perhaps as part of that invite to let them share something, you can say, "Okay, you've got five minutes, go." So you're inviting them, but you're also saying that there is some structure to this. Related to that, the last thing I'd offer is, help them prioritize. If they share three ideas, ask them which one they believe is most essential for this moment with this issue, and they'll be pleased that you did.

Susan Hall: 06:10  Great. In summary, Expressives are people people, they tend to be high energy, creative, and like when others engage them in dialogue, and recognize their contributions. Help them by clarifying and confirming outcomes, scope, and timeline, but give them a little room to put their own spin on things. We've just scratched the surface of this. If you have questions, additional thoughts, or want to reach us, please visit us at our website,

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Published: July 26, 2018


Susan Hall

Vice President- Business Development & Performance Improvement

Susan brings over 20 years of experience working with global markets and organizations, helping them navigate through tough economic challenges while maintaining their margins. Since joining SEG in 1995, she has had the privilege of working with organizations that truly value the development of their employees and recognize the impact their people have on their bottom line results. Susan graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a double major in business management and speech communication. She has also completed course work toward her master's degree at Johns Hopkins University.

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