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It’s good to talk…

Are you happy with the way your team works together, or are there people who you find frustrating? Do you feel you can be completely honest with your colleagues or are there so many things left unsaid that you have a major communication problem?

If your team is more frustrating than productive, then you need to do something to break the cycle and reignite lines of communication. And while psychometric profiling might not initially sound like the ideal conversation starter, you might be surprised to learn that it’s actually a tool designed to do exactly that: getting everyone talking about their strengths and weaknesses, as well as helping everyone on the team find out what makes each other ‘tick’.

And that starts with the individual – you. ‘The self-awareness element for the individual is a key reason to use a profiling tool,’ says Stuart Calvert, one of People Puzzles’ profiling experts. Stuart is an accredited user of the Thomas International DISC profiling system and holds a Masters in Business Psychology. ‘It helps us understand why we get on with some people more than others, and how to interact with co-workers and communicate more effectively with them.’

People Puzzles uses two personality profiling tools, which are chosen depending on the needs of the client. As well as Thomas International, a well-known and easy-to-understand tool, People Puzzles also uses Wiley EverythingDISC, which gives a lot of insight and is used when building cohesive teams.

But what exactly can an online test do? Many of us might have completed a personality ‘test’ via social media and found the results baffling. You might even have disagreed with the analysis and feel fairly cynical about the whole thing.

The key, according to Stuart, is how that information is interpreted and acted upon. Professionally delivered feedback is essential. ‘We talk through what it all means,’ he says. ‘We ask questions like, ‘Is this trait something that you recognise in yourself? How does it manifest itself in the workplace? How do you deal with your peers, your subordinates, your managers?’

Team feedback kicks-off an important conversation about team members’ strengths, weaknesses and how they complement each other – as well as where they potentially clash. ‘We talk about the different personality types between each person in the team and why they behave or respond in certain ways to certain situations,’ says Stuart.

Some employees may have concerns regarding the sharing of their personality profile to others, in the team, and feel vulnerable to criticism. Again, this is where expert feedback is key. ‘Accredited users are taught how to give feedback correctly,’ Stuart reassures. ‘We’re in possession of some powerful information which people could take the wrong way. It’s a bit like a trained counsellor; if you shoot from the hip you’re likely to create a worse situation than was there in the first place, whereas if you put it across in a positive way, with reflection on what this actually means to you, it can be a very positive experience.’

In fact, Stuart reckons the real value comes in – particularly with management teams – by exposing one’s own limitations and saying ‘this is why I’m like this’. ‘Having that honesty and trust is a huge foundation to successful team building,’ Stuart explains. Team building is enhanced by making the sessions entertaining and enjoyable. ‘We do try to put a fun element into it,’ he goes on. ‘Because nobody wants to feel that they’re being ridiculed or that they’re deficient in any way. One exercise is having been furnished with the relevant information to work in teams to guess each others profile types. This can help break down barriers and build a strong team culture – everyone’s in the same boat. There is usually a lot of laughter and sharing as the lightbulbs come on, when people realise others aren’t wrong, they are just different.’

Once the first steps are taken into self-awareness, it’s time to explore interventions so that when you encounter a certain scenario you recognise what is happening and deal with it more effectively. This might mean modifying your style of working to make yourself easier to work with (fancy admitting that to your team!).

How do you prevent people becoming demotivated if their profile doesn’t deliver the results they expect? Again, it’s all in the feedback, according to Stuart. ‘It’s an opportunity for self development,’ he says. ‘If I’m lacking in certain skills, I know that’s what I need to work on. Understanding your limitations is really useful for self development.’

The exercise can become part of the office ‘language’. If colleagues can say things like, ‘I understand why that conversation went wrong: I like big picture whereas my colleague prefers detail and process,’ they are articulating the problem, making deadlocks easier to solve.

In short, profiling is a great first step in helping your team work better together. Contact us now to discuss and book a workshop.

Stuart Calvert has been using the DISC products for more than 20 years and has been accredited to use the Thomas International DISC profiling system since 2001. He also holds a qualification from the British Psychological Society for psychometric profiling and testing, and has a Masters in Business Psychology.

Lynn has been a fantastic support to us and an ongoing fountain of knowledge. If you have a business and/or staff you need to take care of, you need a Lynn on your team!

Kerry Berry, Director, S&K Berry Associates LLP

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