Monthly Archives: April 2011

Half a dozen reasons for considering the individuals within your team. RiverRhee Consulting – April 2011

We know of course that teams are made up of individuals, but do we properly consider the value that each can bring to the team, as well as the differences to respect in working with them?

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a tool that helps people understand and respond in a positive way to the differences between individuals.

RiverRhee Consulting already works with associates qualified and experienced in MBTI to complement its process improvement, knowledge management and change management approaches for enhancing team effectiveness.

Recently, RiverRhee Consulting Owner and Principal Consultant Elisabeth Goodman completed her own certification in the MBTI Step 1 instrument so that she could more fully appreciate and help her clients to make the most of the strengths of individuals within teams.

1. Individuals will engage in the formation of a new team at different rates and in different ways

Many of us are familiar with Tuckman’s model of team formation: forming, norming, storming, performing and a fifth stage: mourning (or re-forming as the old team comes to an end, or changes into something different).  We recognize that there is no set rate for these stages of formation, and that teams might sometimes ‘slip back’ into an earlier stage.

Different team members will not all be at the same stage at the same time and, being individuals, will have different needs and different responses with respect to the team leader and the other members!

Elisabeth Goodman will be delivering a course for “First Time Managers” in May with colleagues in Stronger Business Ltd that will be addressing this theme as part of developing individual, team and task based skills.

2. A team that collaborates successfully takes account of the needs and situation of its individual members

Some team members will value more opportunities to have full-team face-to-face interactions to build the team, whist others will prefer to receive information and ask questions on a 1:1 basis or through written communications.

Successful teams are either co-located enabling lots of whole team and 1:1 communication, or make skillful use of collaborative technology.  Agreed ways of working and some form of local facilitation complemented with occasional face-to-face meetings are critical success factors for effective collaboration between ‘far flung’ or dispersed teams.

One of RiverRhee Consulting’s case studies illustrates how we can help teams develop effective collaborative working.

3. Each individual will interpret and communicate information in different ways

Whilst some team members will value detailed descriptions of roles and responsibilities, objectives and plans, others will prefer to have more autonomy based on generally agreed goals.

Effective teams will therefore have a clear ‘charter’ and give team members an opportunity to contribute to and review this at the level of engagement that suits them best. The important thing is to ensure buy-in from all concerned and that they have sufficient commonly agreed information to be able to communicate it to others outside the team as needed.

Similarly, in the course of the team’s work, some will have a preference for examining problems at a greater level of detail, whilst others will prefer to take a more intuitive or ‘big picture’ approach.

We help team members to build a greater awareness and respect for these different individual needs and strengths through our workshops and 1:1 guidance, as in our recently recognized work with Porsolt, a CRO to the Pharmaceutical Industry based in France.

4. Individuals bring different strengths to problem resolution and decision making processes

Decision-making requires both logical thinking, and an appreciation of the impact of decisions on people and their values. Again, MBTI teaches us that whilst we’re all able to think logically and appreciate what people feel, one or the other of these ‘dichotomies’ will come most easily to us.

Elisabeth Goodman’s work with Pelican Coaching and Development has helped teams to graphically appreciate the strengths that individuals can bring to a team to ensure a good balance of both approaches to decision making.

5. Individuals will have the greatest insights and expertise on their (part of) the process

A key principle of Lean and Six Sigma implementation is to involve the individuals who do the work as they will have the best knowledge of the problems to be resolved and the possibilities for resolving them.  Involving them from the start will also be a strong guarantee of gaining their buy-in for change.

Tapping into, and developing this individual (tacit) knowledge can be a real asset for continuous improvement, as well a challenge.  John Riddell and Elisabeth Goodman ran a very positively received workshop on this topic at the recent Business Process Excellence for Pharmaceuticals, Biotech and Medical Devices, conference in London and will be sharing notes on this as part of a fuller conference write-up during April.

6. Each individual has the ability to act as an opinion leader for change

Elisabeth Goodman introduced the ‘change model’ in a recent workshop to help a University Library team centralize some of its workflows as a response to, and also a driver for organisational change.  The model is based on Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief, and is a vivid way to help professionals understand their own, their colleagues’ and their customers’ reactions to apparently less traumatic change, be it perceived as positive or negative.

How we respond to change individually, our own knowledge and credibility, and the networks that we each have with colleagues and customers will be strong factors in how each individual within a team influences change2.  These individual perspectives will be something that Elisabeth Goodman will also be including in the UKeIG course that she and Shaida Dorabjee will be running in May.

Notes and further reading

  1. RiverRhee Consulting enhances team effectiveness using process improvement, knowledge management and change management.  Follow the links to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, and about Elisabeth Goodman and John Riddell
  2. Influencer – The Power to Change Anything, by Kerry Patterson et al, McGraw Hill, 2008
  3. Effectively influencing Stakeholders: powerful techniques for marketing AND change management (UKeIG) 18th May, London
  4. Introduction to Type and Teams, by Elizabeth Hirsh, Katherine W. Hirsh, Sandra Krebs Hirsh. CPP, Inc. Mountain View, Califormia, 2003, 2nd Edition.
  5. Personality Type and Project Management – with reference to MBTI
  6. Intuition revisited: how it could be important to a business environment (Part 1 of 3 blogs)
  7. How people (individuals) are integral to business process improvement In: Supply Chain Management in the Drug Industry: Delivering Patient Value for Pharmaceuticals and Biologics, by Hedley Rees, Wiley, 2011 pp. 372-376


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