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Transforming Team Profiling into Team Performance – How do you do it?
Author: Leona Bishop | Editor: Sally Redshaw
The other day, I found myself on a sunny terrace, sipping a cold drink and catching up with an old friend from my student days. We've known each other for almost three decades and meet every now and then. This time, we touched a topic that we had never spoken about before.
I asked him how he was enjoying his job at the prestigious research firm where he had been working for years. His response was far from the usual corporate enthusiasm. He leaned in and confessed that although he loves his work, he found his team mate rather annoying. His colleagues, though brilliant in their own right, all had their quirks. He chuckled and added, "But you know, it's not just them. I've got my own quirks too, and that's just the way it is, right?"
This led us to a discussion about the popularity of personality testing, or as he put it, "eight-letter abbreviations and colour combinations that you forget within a day." He described how these tests had become a regular part of their team development initiatives. "We all took these tests," he said, "and then the big question was, 'What eight-letter combination are you?' followed by a frantic attempt to remember your ‘secret code’ and figure out if we were complementary to each other."
I couldn't help but burst into laughter at his witty description because it's a scenario I've come across all too often. It seems that in most organisations and teams, the focus is on taking personality tests, but what comes after is often a giant question mark and we are often left wondering, …”so what now?!”
For those of you who have worked with any of the well-known personality or strength tests along the way, you may be thinking the same, I mean, it’s a great question right?! So, why not explore it:
Seriously, what's the point of these tests, anyway?!
The most important thing to acknowledge is that these types of ‘tests’ are not supposed to solve all of your challenging team dynamics at the drop of a hat. When I start team development or individual coaching, I often ask: "Have you ever taken a personality test?" More often than not, the response is a hesitant, "Yeah, I think I have it in a drawer somewhere."
Then I ask, "What did you or your team do with it?" Sadly, the typical response is a shrug and an "Uhhh... not much."
And, that's where the problem lies. On the face of it, it all seems like a good idea at the time – ‘let’s see what kind of personalities we have in the team’ – but when we don’t know what to do with this information and it gets ‘filed’ in a drawer the next day, it is difficult not to question the investment.
Personality tests are just the beginning, not the end of the road, but we are often left hanging with hardly any follow-up or discussion, and we simply don’t know how to put it to good use in terms of personal and team growth and development.
It is important to note, however, that personality tests can offer insights and opportunities for growth, but that they also have their weaknesses. One of the main weaknesses I encounter is the risk that people get boxed in by themselves and/or others, whilst every healthy human being can be changeable across time, place and context. It all depends . . .
It identifies the intricate web of strengths, weaknesses, emotional drivers, and behavioural patterns of an individual – be them effective or ineffective. This unique and comprehensive approach to personal and team development, offers guidance rather than leaving you to figure out 'what's next’ on your own.
Understanding your behaviour is one thing; applying that knowledge to improve teamwork is another. And that's where things often get tricky.
Why, you ask? Well, because it's often uncomfortable. You must know how you are all put together, how you react to one another and where the irritations are going to rise. It takes courage, time, and inner discipline to confront yourself and your colleagues. Admitting your shortcomings, accepting that you might not always be right, and delving into your own fears, needs, and desires and expressing them, is no walk in the park. That’s where the learning, growth and transformation begins ….
And what about the issue of time? Where do you find the time to dive into these matters when your schedule is already bursting at the seams?!
But here's the flip side: the benefits are worth it. Imagine what you could achieve if you turned it around and worked with it? When you grasp the diversity within your team, learn to bridge and leverage differences, and learn to discover and change ineffective, reactive behavioural patterns within the team for the benefit of all, magic happens. Your differences become your strengths. You become a stronger individual, and your team performs better, with more energy and ease. However, this transformation doesn't happen automatically.
So, here's some steps you can already take and questions you could ask yourself by simply looking through the framework of Functional Fluency (you can download the Functional Fluency model below).
First of all, take time to recognise and acknowledge how effectively you and your team members are interacting.
What are the energy gains and the energy drains in the context of team behaviour and dynamics?
What behaviours do you see when the team is together? Who is responding to who/what (effective 'Golden' behaviour)? Who is reacting to who/what (ineffective 'Purple Pitfall' behaviour)? What is the outcome?
Who is getting along well with each other and who isn't? How can you tell?
What are typical 'triggers' into (in)effective behaviour for your team?
What behaviours are helpful toward's achieving the team's task/goal? What behaviours/ behavioural patterns are getting in the way? Who (including yourself) is/are benefitting? Who is/are not?
What combination of effective 'Golden' behaviours can you and your team use to improve team dynamics on your way to becoming a high performing team?
Embrace positive behavioural change and watch your team's brilliance shine through.
Thrive at Life! With Functional Fluency
P.S. If you're worried that your good intentions will fizzle out, don't hesitate to reach out to us at: email@example.com - we might just have some ideas to turn your insights into real progress!!
Now, let me ask you: What's your explanation for why some teams do nothing more after filling out those tests?!!