How to Analyze Fix a Dysfunctional Office Dynamic

Within each group of people in a Business environment there exists an unseen force known as a the Team Dynamic, which causes businesses to fail or succeed.

 When two or more people get together with the common purpose of starting a new business, it is usually because:

          • They have what they consider as being a really good business idea

          • They believe that each party has is able to contribute some facet of knowledge, talent or ability to their ultimate success

          • They feel that their personalities will combine effectively toward making a team that can pull together for some common purpose.

Hidden DangerBut there lurks a hidden danger in these liaisons, something that either they are blissfully unaware of, neglect to understand, or perhaps do not fully understand. The danger is a powerful unseen force, a magnetism that can impact on, and influence how each individual thinks, then acts and finally reacts. This subliminal interaction – the team dynamic – can be highly complex. It is a relationship situation which is considerably more difficult to cope with than either a marriage, a sibling, or a child. The name popularly coined is the Team Dynamic, from a small partnership of 2 going into say, a hundred or more.

Let start with a small partnership of just 3 people, a fairly common scenario, marketing office equipment. Let us call them Albert, Beth and Chris. Albert is driving, aggressive and demanding, and is good with the money side. Beth is outgoing, but gentle and persuasive – she is the Product Rep. Chris is the Support Technician, plodding, somewhat dour, but painstaking and reliable.

Grizzly BearAlbert’s manner – one of the dangerous unseen forces in our team dynamic – is highly adversarial. It is thus extremely likely that the Beth & Chris will react with either dumb insolence or act out of character and respond hysterically where they feel they have been unjustly treated, particularly if they are equal partners. None of this portends well for the business. Moreover, this behavior can be reinforced if the dominant partner effectively alienates himself by spending a lot of time out of the office.

If this simple case can be a source of problems, with each partner having to contend with just two other relationships, it can be instructive to pursue and extend the theme of personality interaction to another level, say to a newly formed business team of 10 people. Here each person has got to deal with 9 relationships. So, the total number of relationships here is a surprising 90! – already building up to being potentially more challenging down the line! Unless one has a key ingredient, this number of personalities herded into one paddock can either go very well or disastrously awry.

Office ManagerLet us go one step up now – the group needs a manager, so the company owners advertise and a new manager is appointed on the basis of his qualifications, CV, and apparently pleasing, and even dynamic personality in the interview. Note especially that in the majority of cases, NO reference is made to actually MATCHING his personality to the TEAM DYNAMIC. What complicates things even further is that the potential number of relationships has escalated to a whopping 110!

If you are that avant-garde manager – what avenues should you pursue in a bid to get a grip on the team dynamic to make things work? The sensible route could be to:

          • Record each team member’s role and evaluate the specific job requirement

          • Carefully match each person to the job or role they will be playing, initially according to their CV and qualifications. (that of course is standard practice)

          • Factor in the physical office environment, especially where the layout or space constraints dictate that the group is broken up into 3 entities.

          • The methods of communication and how it is to be applied – this could include:

               o By “diktat” (An order given by someone with authority, often unpopular or harsh)

               o Office memos, bulletin boards or e-mails. (some managers avoid direct communication and hide behind these methods)

               o Group brainstorming and problem solving – often the trademark of the enlightened manager.

               o Sadly, this one happens anyway: whispering and backbiting

          • Take in to account the effect of status symbols such as a company car.

In the hectic modern office, sad to say, scant attention, if any is paid to Team Dynamics, until it becomes a problem. This is usually when the team performance is poor or sub-standard. The Knee- Jerk reaction from head office is to call in the relevant manager and take him to task – after all he IS the manager! In turn, he is likely to react (to preserve his job and skin) to target one or more of the team under his control for disciplinary action or even discharge. At least, that is the traditional way that may will recognize and relate to.

More often than not, the action he takes can be totally inappropriate – regularly his team morale, and setting them up for a cycle of problems and then poor performance.

How much more sensible it would have been to evaluate each staff member for their personality type. There are a number of very useful approaches that can be considered here. These could include a battery of Psychometric tests, or even a little recognized and under-appreciated approach using what can be cost-effective , speedy, accurate and pertinent – Handwriting Analysis:

Determining the Group Dynamic by way of Handwriting Analysis can be surprisingly effective

Handwriting AnalysisThe naysayers of handwriting analysis as one of the approach avenues to personality determination dictate, often rather vociferously, that they need statistical proof that it works, such as that oft quoted in medical literature. Yet, very often the upshot of the very same scientific studies is proven to be unreliable due to an inbuilt product prejudice (for example, studies determining that a certain allopathic medical drug claimed as being superior has actually been financially incentivized by the self-same drug manufacturer)

Another tactic is to suggest that the veracity of handwriting analysis should be peer reviewed. In real life though, there are many studies demonstrating that peer review does nothing toward lifting the accuracy of efficacy of scientific work.

The astute reader will readily perceive that there is a conundrum at work here – it cannot be proven that a process has scientific validity – but it CAN be proved that a specific practice is invalid. To date, handwriting analysis is yet to be proven invalid. Indeed, there are many scientific (i.e. conforming with the principles or methods used in science) papers showing where it HAS worked in practice. See: coaching.html (Resource list of scientific studies concerning handwriting analysis.pdf)

On their own admission, folk who conduct Psychometric tests readily admit that there are certain aspects of this approach that can be fudged, and thus effectively skewing the outcome.

So, in real life, with an open-minded attitude, handwriting analysis can actually play a valuable complementary and supporting role alongside other modalities. It can, without doubt, be shown that it is extremely useful in determining many aspects of personality, including:

          • If an applicant indeed fits a particular category of job

          • If the person concerned will slot easily into the prevailing Team Dynamic

          • Potential personality sticking points – including self-aggrandizement, procrastination, defensive, temper, unpredictable.

          • Time saving route to understanding

Handwriting Analysis, properly applied, is undoubtedly a valid, ethical approach in helping to delineate an individual’s inherent, and often unseen, abilities and foibles. An approach which pre-empts anticipated challenges – thus helping managers to run their teams, and the business more happily and efficiently, often with amazing insight.

Once recognized, how can the Team Dynamic be managed constructively?

          • Based on the results obtained from the comprehensive handwriting analysis, which should include the derived Jung classification, tabulate and categorize the range of 16 personality types

          • Determine where there are potential points of friction or cooperation

          • Evaluate and balance the strengths and weaknesses across the teams, and bring them into balance as dictated by the groups that will be formed.

What sort of results can be expected within the Team Dynamic?

There are 3 possible states, or levels at which any team is likely to perform when there is a problem:

           • No Team Dynamic

                o Dealt with as situations arise, and because it needs to be dealt with immediately, one person, more than likely the wrong person, quickly                    fills the need. Now, until there is a disaster, nobody recognizes the stop-gap action. When not recognized by the manager, this small     weakness can be a fatal flaw for what may appear to be an efficient operation.

          • Poor Team Dynamic

               o Where sub-standard performance has become the norm, the Team, and their manager often fail abysmally at recognizing the team      shortcomings until the situation actually moves to being calamitous. This situation is VERY dangerous because nobody, including top management remotely recognizes that there is indeed a problem, let alone what the problem is and how it can be prevented or changed.

          Team Spirit• Good Team Dynamic

               o With Team interaction in the “Rolls Royce league”, it will inevitably lead to EACH team member providing back-up in an appropriate, speedy, balanced and positive manner – i.e. the PREVIOUSLY recognized talents and personalities are used according to the SPECIFIC needs of each situation.

               o Not every team is the same, so it is important that ALL talents, abilities and foibles are correctly and accurately assessed, tabulated, and then APPLIED and USED in practice. NOT just an academic exercise.

What personality types does Handwriting Analysis recognize?

In this approach (there are many others) there are 8 personality types recognized:

Entertainer, Idealist, Lone Ranger, Motivator, Peacemaker, Perfectionist, Pleaser and T-Rex

Carl JungBeyond the basic types noted above, handwriting analysis can also easily be extended to recognize the 16 Jung personality types, and closely matching Thinking Styles researched by Dr Geil Browning in her excellent work: “Emergenetics” which classifies the Thinking Styles into Analytical, Structural, Conceptual and Social.

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Posted on Mar 3, 2010