Do you wanna be in my gang?

Relationships are important.  It is a basic human need to perceive an association with others – common denominators, similarities, ‘belonging’ and being part of the gang.  Relationships are the conduit through which connections are made, information flows – and ‘understanding’ prevails. 

In fact, the extent to which appropriate information flows freely throughout an organisation is the extent to which nearly every positive measurement of that Organisation’s performance is enhanced.  As the oft-quoted English author and poet John Donne said: ‘No man is an Island’.

But when we have a team of people – each with their own foibles and follies, how can we possibly get it right?  Relationships are difficult enough one-to one!

So, get an understanding of the four basic personality types – and you’ll clean up!

It’s human nature to make broad assumptions about someone on meeting them.  Some would say we form an impression in as little as three seconds.  But what of our own prejudices are we bringing to bear?  Why do we assume character traits on the basis of physical proportions?  Is it fair to attribute intelligence (or its lack) by virtue of an accent?  And as for what they are wearing!!!

A skull tattoo?

On the Jeremy Kyle show recently (I was just flicking through the channels – ok!?) a young man proudly showed off his ‘evil skull’ tattoo – which took up most of his face.  The issue was that his girlfriend didn’t like it – and it was affecting their (otherwise stable?) relationship. He claimed he was expressing himself and had a right to do so.  It did not surprise me to learn that the young man was claiming benefits as “…it’s hard to find someone who will employ me.”

Now, for all I know, this fit, healthy lad might be a motivated and hard worker… but that skull!  Self expression is an undeniable right – within morals and the law; but there are consequences of such extremes of behaviour. Yet, even without alarming facial tattoos, we make judgements of others.

The trouble is that, most of the time, these judgements take place at a sub-conscious level.  With some people we just ‘Click’. To others, we automatically ascribe negative attributes based on… what?

Common denominators

As a speaker and trainer on ‘Team Building’ and ‘Business Relationships’ it never fails to astound me when I look around at a conference audience or delegates at a Master Class, and see the predictable basic differences between them all.  And before you charge me with ‘Boxing People in’, ‘Categorising’ or ‘Stereotyping’ let me point out some groupings that we take for granted:

I prefer to use my right hand when undertaking most manual tasks… I am comfortable with my right-handed identity.  Furthermore, I sport a fine mop (if I say so myself) of ‘salt ‘n pepper’ coloured hair.  I’m not ‘Blonde’ nor am I ‘Ginger’ or ‘Bald’.  And then there’s that wonderful X or Y chromosomal group – sometimes referred to as gender.  Yup, I am usually classed as a ‘Male’ and pretty happy with such a categorical assumption.  These physical characteristics are usually categories we accept – and can do little about (although some do try with varying degrees of success).

Differences between the ears

Less obvious than our physical distinctions (natural or manmade) are our psychological preferences.  But even these differences can be clearly evident to the consciously aware.  Ultimately, we are all individuals, however, there are some useful common denominators, the knowledge of which can really help connect to a person – or team…

Look out for the four main character types (as defined by the work of Carl Jung – but let’s not get too technical here!).  The words indicate a ‘preference’ – not an ‘ability’.

‘Red’ type: Determined, Competitive and Strong Willed.

‘Yellow’ type: Sociable, Enthusiastic and Expressive.

‘Green’ type: Caring, Encouraging and Amiable.

‘Blue’ type: Cautious, Precise and Analytical.

Now, of course, we can be all of these ‘Types’ according to the situation or context.  However, we probably have a starting point; a preference for one of these styles.  And it can be very obvious to others.  Unfortunately we can perceive someone else’s behavioural preference as ‘Wrong’.  NO!  It’s not wrong – merely ‘Different’.  The trick is to welcome, appreciate and respect these differences.  After all, if everyone was the same – then some of us wouldn’t be necessary!

Here’s an overview of the four main types as I so often experience them… and bear in mind that Red & Green are opposites – as are Yellow & Blue:

Red team member.  Extraverted Thinking – results focused.

Ready for the challenge and ready to go!.  Clear and focused approach.  Wants to be in charge of their environment (and others’!).  Easily impatient.

Make sure they really understand what is required – then challenge them to go the extra mile (especially if in competition with others)

Yellow team member.  Extraverted Feeling – future focused.

Looking for involvement and entertainment.  Creative and fun approach.  Wants to work with others and to socialise.  Easily distracted.

Allow flexibility and opportunities to be with others.  Praise them a lot and be clear that you like them.  Get them excited and celebrate their success.

Green team member.  Introverted Feeling – harmony focused.

Keen to understand the effects of any changes.  Intense, team approach.  Wants to understand the impact on others close to them.  Easily troubled.

Allow time for consideration and decision making in an accommodating atmosphere.  Maintain a low key, friendly approach – boost confidence.

Blue team member.  Introverted Thinking – detail focus.

Looking for a clear, logical process.  Detached, thinking approach.  Wants to obtain facts, perceive structure and recognise ‘why’.  Easily disengaged.

Provide information, references and proof in a business-like environment.  Expect initial disagreement – they look for what is wrong first.  Win them over with reason.

Image of a board meeting for MD2MDs post on types of Directors

Make it easy on yourself!

As team members or team leaders, we must variously be Engaging, Thought-Provoking, Motivational and Fun with appropriate bias according to the team ‘make up’.  A fully functional team is one where relationships are intact, respect is apparent and trust prevails.  Everything thereafter becomes SO much easier.

Now, does anyone know how to remove a skull tattoo…?

Written by Andy Edwards, professional conference speaker.