If you have ever completed a psychometric assessment, or character profiling tools you will notice that there are questions that define you and others that you would not be so clear about. And then there are the questions which you answer, thinking I can’t believe anyone would think any differently to my way of seeing things. The reality is that they do, and in most cases people are seeing the world in hundreds of different ways to you.
This leaves us with so many ways to divide people up into groups and types that you might be forgiven for giving up, ignoring all the psychobabble and just get on with working and delivering deadlines.
However, you ignore these differences at your peril. We know that it is important to recognise why it might be beneficial to your organisation to be able to divide your team/people into distinct groupings in order to help them...and you...to get the most out of their working environment. We only achieve real flow when the environment around us aligns.
Take, for example, the lady who got hugely frustrated at work because her boss wanted her to read every bit of information about a task before undertaking it, and to all but memorise the instruction manual before using a new piece of software, while her natural inclination is to dive in and explore a task or a programme to find out what works and what doesn't. Is this an environment where she will deliver to her best ability? The boss could argue that if she just jumps in she may ruin an expensive piece of equipment, or not follow process. However the fault lies with the equipment or process, not the lady being forced to read the manual.
As we have identified there are many types of people out there and for some people though the idea of not reading the manual in great detail is just plain strange. For them, the way to approach something new is to pore over the manual or to quiz experienced users; maybe watch instruction videos on YouTube. Nothing else will do. For some the research becomes more important than the task itself.
We call these groupings Players and Students
Players – Those people that dive in and let the process unravel as they get practically involved.
Students – Those that study the detail to ensure that once we get to delivery it will all be perfect.
If you think about the people in your team you'll recognise that you have representatives of both types. As Belbin pointed out to us, every team needs a mixture of different people to be effective, so both types of people are needed to run your team/organisation.
The challenge is to adapt your style of management - particularly your style of delegation - to each of these personalities so that each group is given the chance to learn and work in the way that suits them best.
Of course, you might already be aware of other groupings and learning styles among your people, and you may already be managing accordingly, you can never be too aware of how people work most effectively, so if you do indeed recognise that you have a mixture of players and students, let the players play and the students study.