Tiger, square pegs and round holes

Are square pegs born or developed?


Effective teamwork is the bedrock on which high performance is built. Often, the focus of attention is on leadership issues. But there is no denying that the success of teams is hampered by the existence of square pegs in round holes in 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.

The Role Fit framework is simple on the surface, yet it escapes so many teams:

  1. Identify the right approach to completing the task.
  2. Select the right people for the assignment.
  3. Assign them to the right roles.
  4. Create the right environment for them.

Let me share with you the story of a real life person who we will call Jane.

Then watch Tiger resolve a round peg square hole challenge at the end of the post.

Jane felt trapped by her own success. She had steadily risen to positions of increasing responsibility in her chosen field of Accounting & Auditing. Jane was excited by the challenge of designing creative audits. Now, she was confronted with the reality that signing off on an audit for her organization meant that she had to spend many hours going through what she considered to be tedious verification and quality assurance work.

Jane’s behavioural profile indicates a strong preference for I-style behaviour. Focusing on details takes a lot more energy from her and dampens her enthusiasm.

Jane’s story is replicated over and over in organizations. 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.

Extended DISC experts have been successfully engaged in guiding organizations through the implementation of the Role Fit framework with the aid of their unique personal and team diagnostics.

Take the 2-minute 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 toolkit supports an outlook that sees the need for change and improvement. It equips us with decisiveness, a willingness to be direct in communication and a commitment to drive hard towards desired objectives. 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 toolkit is geared to support a mindset that reflects the view that success is best achieved by working with and through people. The capacity to influence others and to respond appropriately to inducement is among the principal tools. This is the toolkit that supports creative activities, innovation, out of the box thinking and high impact networking. There is a shortage of tools for focusing on details and for sticking to one activity for extended periods.
  3. The S-style toolkit is favoured when we face environments that are more stable. There might be need for change but those are addressed on the basis on consensus. Key tools include the capacity for listening, empathy, sincerity, respect for others, loyalty, team cohesiveness, dedication and self-denial. There is a shortage of independent decision making tools and the willingness to challenge the status quo or established authority.
  4. The C-style toolkit is where we turn when we need to take a cold, logical outlook into any situation. Tools that are readily available include precision, attention to detail, reliance on properly documented facts, quality assurance, holding self and other accountable, record keeping and a passion for analysis. Tools in short supply include a willingness to engage in small talk, fondness for team building and TGIF initiatives and patience and understanding with respect to mistakes and incompetence.

So, now the quick pop quiz:

  1. If you wanted someone to conduct some life and death medical analyses for you what toolkit would you like them to rely on? D ? “I make my decisions right”? I-style challenged by a focus on details? As for me, I would love my technician to be wed to the C-style toolkit.
  2. What if you wanted someone to take charge of entering a notoriously competitive market? What toolkits would you want to see in play? S? With a shortage of the willingness to challenge the status quo? I would want to see reliance on a blend of D and I style toolkits.

So from this little exercise you can see that different jobs and situations can best be achieved by relying on one or two of the toolkits. This has huge implications for the composition of teams and for the assignment of roles within work groups.

The key is to prepare a template of the style that would best perform given tasks with the help of sophisticated role analyses support tools. The next step is to use the diagnostic tools to match the behavioural preferences of incumbents or prospects to the 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.

Tiger - square peg

Tiger – Square peg in round hole

Trevor Smith is the CEO of the INFOSERV Group, a Director of the Success with People Academy and a joint-venture partner in Extended DISC Caribbean.

Sites: www.swpacademy.com www.extendeddisc.com/caribbean

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