This week’s blog post is a guest blog post written by Dennis Adams. I’m much indebted to Dennis for this wonderful article in which he looks at how recent developments in the field of personality profiling impact how you should manage teams. Not only does he explain the theory he also gives 4 practical action points that you can use to boost YOUR team’s performance. Enjoy.
Increasingly managers are using personality profiling to better understand the people they work with and provide actionable insights into how to lead them. People are incredibly complex and as a result, various techniques have been developed to analyse personalities. The most well-known being Myers-Briggs, Belbin and DISC.
Less well known in the UK is Birkman® who have been developing their real-world research-driven analytical tools for over 60 years. In my opinion Birkman understand personality analysis better than any other and provide the most practical insight into how to effectively engage with your team.
1. The Platinum Rule
We all know the so-called Golden Rule: “do to others as you want them to do to you”. However, personality profiling suggests the Platinum Rule:
“do to others as they need to be done to”
The key to applying the Platinum Rule is to understand the following:
- You will see things through your own “perceptual filters”
- Your team members will each see things through their own “perceptual filters”
- Your own personality will pre-dispose you to behave in a certain way, and expect others to behave identically
- If you can assess the personality of your team members, you can behave towards them in a way that will best motivate them
Action point: When managing your team take time to understand each person’s personality. Don’t just assume they see the world in exactly the same way you do – because they probably don’t.
It is often quoted that understanding motivation is the key to effective leadership. There are many aspects that influence motivation in the workplace: pay, promotion, self-esteem, credibility, moral framework and even things like dreams and desires.
The Birkman approach views people as having two inter-related aspects to their motivation:
- External Motivators
- Internal Motivators
The external motivators (Birkman calls them ‘Interests’) describe the type of things that will energise and motivate us. They keep us motivated in the short term.
However, these are secondary to the internal motivators (Birkman calls these ‘Needs’). They describe what we need from others in order to perform well in the long run.
Understanding and fulfilling your employees’ needs is the more difficult task and also the most important. A person will only work in a consistently productive way if their internal motivators are met over time. And if they’re not being met, people become stressed and start behaving in ways which are not productive.
Action point: To ensure your team members remain consistently productive and motivated first attempt to understand their internal motivators or ‘Needs’
3. Communication Styles
Consider the way we communicate. Some people ‘speak directly’ or ‘call a spade a spade’; others prefer a more indirect approach.
As a manager, you will have your own personal communication style. You may be tempted to think that your team members share your preferences. But, in fact, each of your team members may be very different.
Action point: When communicating with your team don’t use the same communication style for everyone. For best results tailor your communication style to the personality of the individual.
4. Group Relationships
Another example concerns how people relate in a group setting. We know statistically that 80% of people will be seen as sociable and friendly. But most people also have a more reflective side to their personality (which is often hidden at work). They go through periods where they need time alone or time spent just with close friends.
So when a member of the team suddenly withdraws, becomes a bit unfriendly or avoids meetings, they may simply be expressing their internal need for time alone. This insight provides a practical way of exploring why they are withdrawing and helping them return to their usual productive self.
Action point: Understand that different members of a group have different internal needs. For example, some may need time alone. First understand and respect these needs then step in and try and help where appropriate.
Managing and motivating teams is incredibly complex. Although we all know some basic techniques that can encourage or deflate a colleague, having access to personality profiling techniques gives us clear strategies for motivating them in the best possible ways.
Dennis Adams is a director of Chief Executive Coaching who provide practical advice and mentoring on strategy and team leadership to executives at all levels within organisations. Executive coaching is the key that enables SMEs to face the unique challenges presented by transition and growth.