Managing Someone with High Thorough and Compliance

by | Mar 1, 2023 | Hiring Tips | 0 comments

By: Mara Miller

When it comes to your team’s success, your role as their manager is vital. Business goals, priorities, training, communication, and understanding of each individual’s different personalities all play a part in creating a solid team. To make that happen, you need to identify and understand the personality traits that make each person tick to help you lead them more effectively. 

The definition of “thorough” is to complete with regard to every detail. It is not done superficially or partially. The definition of “compliant” is someone who is inclined to agree with others or obey rules, especially to an excessive degree. In other words, they can be described as a “rule follower“ and a “compliance thinker.” 

However, that is not all they are. Quality assurance is very important to them and they can be creative problem solvers if given all of the information and time to sort through the problem. As their manager, you will need to guide them on stepping outside of their comfort zone and focusing on the right details, not ALL the details at once. 

High Thorough and Compliant Personality Traits:

Positive Traits / Strengths

Individuals with high Thorough/Compliant are analytical and systematic in their approach to tasks. They take a large amount of pride in their work because they believe that work represents their true self. They love information and digging into the details and unearthing in-depth information. They know how to ask the right questions to get the answers. They focus on expectations (e.g., policies, practices, and procedures) and outcomes. Almost in contrast to their analytical tendencies, they are quite creative and can be counted on for unique concepts and ideas. They create logical order for complex tasks. Due to their need to be accurate, they prefer checking processes themselves to eliminate an error before it becomes a problem. They are considered the “expert” because they will know the system inside and out.  

Growth Areas / Areas that Need Support

They view rules and processes as the only way to obtain effective results. They can appear rigid and uncooperative to others, even more so if it appears others’ ideas are not being considered. If working in a fast-paced environment, they may struggle with sudden changes and will want a slower changing process. The slower pace allows them the chance to evaluate the plan, ask questions, analyze it for any potential problems, and then decide whether it will work or not. They have an unattainable desire for perfection and Individuals with high Thorough/Compliant spend much of their time over-analyzing and may become overwhelmed with details. They may spend more time looking for the “perfect solution,” not the “workable solution,” which makes them inflexible at times. However, they would rather avoid conflict and arguments, rather, preferring to remain in control in a passive way. They can control the quality of their assigned tasks instead of addressing any feelings. They tend to be over-critical of others resulting in their attention to detail. When you look for mistakes, it’s easier to find them. 

Motivated By

Knowing expectations and how they will be evaluated keeps an individual with high Thorough/Compliant motivated. They value quality, accuracy, logic, and information. They like to have a clear idea of their role, and what’s expected of them, so they will ask for clarification if needed to ensure they are on the right track. They can provide support by assisting others in being more efficient or creating guidelines for others to follow.


Individuals with high Thorough/Compliant can become stressed or anxious when in unstructured environments. If a conflict arises, they will do what they can to distance themselves from it, even if it means giving in to not having to deal with the conflict further. They need to have control over their environment. (i.e.: details, appointments, boundaries.) Admitting to a mistake, acting before thinking, speaking before pondering, meeting spontaneously, and giving opinions without the chance to sort through the data, are all causes of stress. 

Ideal Environment

They thrive in an environment where they can follow through with tasks to completion and excel in specialized areas due to their attention to detail. They prefer an environment that is peaceful with few to no conflicts or arguments. They are in their comfort zone and feel safe when there are procedures and routines to follow with few distractions. They are fine working alone. Their work environment is stable because they have been given instructions, their questions have been answered, and they continue to receive reassurance and feedback from their manager. They want recognition as an expert. They would prefer things not to change, but if a change is necessary, it’s well thought out and planned. 


Conversations should be sincere, and professional, and include questions to fully understand what they are thinking. Meetings should be infrequent, formally scheduled, and with a prepared agenda. Emails should be detailed and factual, but straight to the point. Feedback should be specific, detailed, and delivered with logical reasoning and factual proof to support all claims. Keep emotions out of it. If conflicts arise, try to work out a solution using logic and rationale. They are open to compromise. They are people of few words and typically speak more carefully and with less expression. 

Benefits to a Team

Although they prefer working alone, they contribute significantly to a team environment. They emphasize quality, think logically, and strive for a diplomatic approach and consensus within groups. They need to complete tasks and be thorough while doing them. They ask important questions to get a full understanding and provide helpful analysis for any potential issues that may block projects from being completed on time. 


The biggest fear of someone with a high Thorough/Compliant is criticism. They fear criticism of their work. A decision made too quickly or without all the data, mistakes, sloppy methodology, or an emotional situation that prevented than from achieving their goal of perfection. They also fear illogical, irrational, and emotional acts from others. Their goal is to keep their own emotions in check and getting caught up in emotions will cause embarrassment. They self-impose themselves into a box of boundaries that others cannot cross. This means they need to be seen as “perfect,” “the go-to person,” and “the expert.” 

Management Tips

Below are some management tips to consider when managing someone with high Thorough/Compliant:

  • If looking for an assertive sales professional, consider using someone with low Thorough/Compliant, even if they have high Motivation/Drive. An individual with low Thorough/Compliant will focus on the goals and achievements provided to them, however, they are uncomfortable playing an assertive role. They prefer to concentrate on working with structure and planning rather than taking direct proactive action. May focus more on “doing right” rather than asking for the sale. 
  • Consider encouraging them to get out of their comfort zone by participating in coaching and roleplaying exercises to help build communication and confidence within their team. They have a tendency to want to distance themselves from others, preferring to communicate via email or text instead of in person or on the phone. 
  • Planning and organizing tend to be second nature to them, which can work in your favor. Consider giving them specific guidelines and the details you want them to focus on to prevent them from losing sight of the bigger picture. 
  • Consider how you approach conversations. Avoid being confrontational as they will not respond well to this and will close off. As their manager, there may be times you will need to have meetings with them. They are concerned with being accurate and producing high-quality work. These meetings can be stressful for them, especially if they don’t know what they are about. Mistakes are not an option for them, because they feel their worth is based on the work. 
  • Consider how you approach all communications (emails, messages, meetings, conversations, etc). Avoid being confrontational as they will not respond well to this and will close off. Provide details and explanations with supporting facts when possible. Do not speak in broad generalizations. Take the time to pay attention to the details because this is what they focus on and it is important to them. Give them parameters and details, and talk about how different tasks fit into the big-picture plan. 

Combination of Personality Traits

Each of us has a combination of personality traits. Below are examples of how high Thorough/Compliant individuals can be affected when combined with other personality traits.

High Motivation/Drive: They are formal and structured with a forceful and blunt style. Believes in getting things right, and will state their mind robustly and directly. 

High Persuasiveness/Convincing: (Note: self-confidence is not the same as aggressiveness); They want the attention and approval of others, but it is not likely to be shown, but will be more subtle and discreet.

High Structured/Routine: They want a stable environment with clear boundaries (safe space) and where there is not a lot of interaction with people. 

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