One Size does not Fit all

Many profiling systems place people in boxes, colours, quadrants or types, the descriptions of which are generalised. This generalisation of so-called ‘typologies’ means that each type does not exclusively refer to the individual person being assessed. Furthermore, because these preferences do not necessarily track the actual thinking behind someone’s behaviours and performance at work, they are often described as “Personality Profiles.” But we all know that each of us are much more than that.

Each one of us are like exquisite diamonds with many facets to admire and enjoy. Depending on the context, (at work, at home, at play, in the community etc.), the ‘identity’ we bring to the situation (work colleague; parent; partner; son/daughter; friend; volunteer etc.), influences the facet that we present to the world, and our motivational preferences within that context.

In recent years a new profiling system that measures patterns of thinking and motivation behind the behaviours for specific roles solely within the current work context, has been developed. This distinction is specific to the individual rather than being a generic personality profile. In effect we can now track and measure each person’s unique ‘motivational fingerprint’ as it applies to how they like to do their work, at any level of the organisation, which provides a useful and accessible basis for both individual change and team development.

This means that if the individual’s role or work context changes to any significant degree, this system of precision profiling can point to the likely effect of that change on the individual’s patterns of thinking and their consequent performance/behaviours as a result.

For example, I was invited to give advice and feedback to an organisation regarding one of their top performing executives who had recently been given a promotion involving a significant change in role and responsibility. This executive was moving from a highly strategic business development role which involved lots of fast decisions, canvassing and collaboration with peers, and quick action, which then required others in the team to follow up with the structure and the detail that was need to complete the task. He was being promoted due to his highly tuned ability to elicit the advice of his peers, enlist their support and then make things happen within the context of major new projects.

Whereas previously this executive had been more of a sole operator who worked closely with his peers and other stakeholders to make things happen, now he had his own team of direct reports eager to be led by this up and coming ‘wunderkind’ on a challenging new start-up venture. Because he had overachieved in his previous role as the promoter and developer of major new projects, the organisation in its wisdom felt that his skills and competencies, his previous experience, and his proven results made him a perfect fit for the new role. But they made the mistake that almost all organisations make when it comes to executive selection or promotion. They assessed everything in terms of skill, capability, experience, and previous success, but missed one vital link – motivational ‘make-up’ or fit for the role.

Whereas before, John (not his real name) had developed a highly tuned ability to canvass the input of all his colleagues, peers and other key stakeholders in order to get everyone in the boat before any major decisions of lasting impact were made, now he was being asked to lead a team of people who were looking to him for leadership and strategic decision making as new kids on the block who were still feeling their way in this start-up venture. And although he had the intellectual rigour and capability of offering such leadership, it was not part of his ingrained pattern of behaviour or ‘style.’ His motivational preference was for lots of robust discussion, challenging of each other, and canvassing of input before the decisions were made, and this was an experience that his direct reports were totally unfamiliar with. Whereas he was still regarding his new executive team as a peer group, they just wanted to be led with guidance and a clear direction.

Furthermore, because he was highly tuned to initiation and proactive ‘thinking on the run’  as part of his motivational make-up, his preference for laying down plans and structures before taking action was not a major factor in his pattern of thinking.

Now before you think that this is a story about someone who was not skilled or capable of formulating structures or leading others, that is an incorrect assumption. As a highly intelligent individual, John was extremely capable of performing in these ways, it is just that he hadn’t yet shifted motivational ‘gears’ from his previously more collegial work context within a looser structure, so the motivational drivers and patterns of thinking that made him highly effective in one context were inappropriate for the next, and it was having a significant negative impact on both the morale of his executive team and the success of this new start-up venture due to serious delays.

The most telling point of this example, is that of the 48 possible unconscious patterns of thinking and behaving that we could measure for John’s personal ‘motivational fingerprint’ in his new context, we only needed to isolate two of his patterns that were impacting on his leadership style in order to make a difference and turn the whole scenario around. Rather than him being judged incorrectly as having ‘failed’ in his new role, a programme of personal coaching with John was introduced over a series of months which turned this negative situation into a positive one for him, his team, and most importantly, the future success of the organisation’s new venture.

As I said in my previous blog, sometimes the smallest of things can make the biggest of differences. But first you have to know where to look, and then what to do about it. And while it may seem that the work I do is having a positive impact on the success of companies, actually my greatest satisfaction comes from the difference I know it makes to the lives of the individuals and their colleagues. People who may have been judged incorrectly by their leaders merely because those leaders are not well versed in the ways of human behaviour and ‘role-specific’ motivation and therefore make decisions about the careers and lives of others based on their own misunderstandings of what makes them tick.

Until next time… Let’s seek to understand more and judge less.   Have a great week – Brian.

Precision Profiling – What Makes You Tick? Revealing the hidden secrets about yourself and your colleagues that even you didn’t know.

About Brian Clark

Brian Clark is the principal director of Precision Profiling®.

He is a renowned practitioner, writer and speaker on building total customer cultures; values driven leadership and world best practice strategy and implementation.

He has been a guest lecturer on world best practice for the executive management programme at Monash University’s business college (Mt Eliza campus); an adviser to and key note speaker for the Singapore Productivity Association and a consultant to many major Australian and overseas corporations and government departments.

Read more about Brian Clark Here

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