By Trevor E Smith Posted: November 10, 2010
The performance of organizations is heavily dependent on the productivity of their teams. Well oiled teams drive exceptional performance.
Yet, placing square pegs in round holes has the effect of placing square wheels on a racing car. Giving individuals roles for which they are not well suited detracts from the overall performance of the team.
Role Fit has been identified as perhaps the single most important factor driving the productivity of teams. High performance teams are those that have managed to sort out the vexed issue of determining how best to complete an assignment and getting the right persons to perform the right roles in the right environment.
There is a strategy for getting best results from teams. Here are the principles:
Right out of school I was assigned to work in a Government Audit Department. I was asked to perform the repetitive task of verifying the accuracy of accounting ledgers.
Mapping teams provide immediate insights in role assignment and best fit matches. Team members readily share the frustration that they experience when they have to perform tasks for which they are not suited.
Now, this approach is not to be mistaken with allowing individuals to remain within their comfort zones. This does not preclude getting members to stretch and to conquer new frontiers in the process of development.
I have a preference for more variety and for tasks that require more interaction with others. Sitting by myself doing repetitive tasks is not a good fit for me.
When Role Fit is put in place with the support of effective diagnostic tools, teams invariably achieve higher levels of performance.
Significantly, the improvement in productivity is usually accompanied by greater cohesiveness among team members.
Potentially productive team members are frustrated by having to play roles that take too much energy from them. This produces a drain on the productivity of the team and negatively impacts morale.
Take this mini-challenge to see how readily the Role Fit Framework is understood and how relevant it is to your organization. We are given 4 toolkits to cope with our environment:
1. The D-style - Dominance.
Outgoing and task oriented. Direct, driven, decisive, dogmatic, daring. This is the toolkit that we reach into when confronted with tough, competitive environments or situations in which bold actions in high risk contexts is required.
It is not heavily stocked with some of the niceties that underpin inter-personal relationships.
2. The I-style - Influence or Inducement.
Outgoing and people oriented. Inter-personal relations are vitally important. Impulsive. Innovative. "In-the-house".
The I-style is identified with warm inter-personal relations, creativity, networking, selling ideas. The ideal style for promoting change initiatives. Focus on variety, break projects down into short tasks, allow room for creativity to get best results from the I-style. Avoid details!
3. The S-style - Steadiness.
Reserved and people oriented. Supportive. Stable. Steadfast. Submissive.
Go to the S-style tool kit when you are seeking empathetic listening, sincere interaction, self-denial, willingness to serve and respect for others.
The S-style is not overly given to independent decision making. Consensus building is the preferred approach. Diplomatic strategies for effecting change are preferred to open confrontation.
4. The C-style – Compliance.
Reserved and task oriented. Conscientious, Cautious, Correct, Consistent.
The C-style toolkit is where we turn when we need to take a cold, logical outlook into any situation. The C-style has strong quality assurance instincts. This feeds into documentation and record keeping as well as a passion for analysis.
The C-style tool kit is poorly stocked with idle chatter and some of the fun and games that are integrated in traditional team building interventions.
1. How would you respond to the news that a D-style ex-army officer was going to be the new guidance counsellor at your teen-aged daughter's school?
2. What style would you prefer to be providing care for an incapacitated elderly family member?
The message should be clear. Different tasks are best performed by different behavioural styles.
We miss the import of this fact when we fail to take behavioural styles into consideration when we set up teams.
The key is to prepare a template of the style that would best perform given tasks with the help of sophisticated support tools that effectively perform role fit analysis.
The next step is to use the diagnostic tools to match the behavioural preferences of incumbents or prospects to the "ideal template". The identified gaps will help to determine the level of fit for the individual and provide a unique basis for coaching them to improved performance.
Success = Right Approach, undertaken by Right Individuals, who have been given the Right Tasks under Right Supervision in the Right Environment.
We will share more in upcoming articles on productivity enhancement, team building and inter-personal relationships.