We were tasked with running a teambuilding session for a team which formed part of the finance function of a large organisation. This team had been largely unchanged for several years, but recently a few new members had joined; one middle-manager taking responsibility for half of the team to take the pressure off the overall manger, and one team member replacing a leaver.
Before the session, all of the team members completed the Persona Personality questionnaire. After an introduction to the personality and our colour system, we asked everyone to guess where they would sit on the Persona Wheel. As you might expect from a team of accountants, Blue energy featured very strongly in the team! The logical and analytical nature of the accounting role is perfect for people with high Blue energy.
The Overall Team Manager, part of the overall organisation management team, combined Blue Energy with a lot of Red energy that common in leadership roles and in those who have to make tough management decisions quickly.
The team member in position 8 on the wheel stands out as she has both Yellow and Green energy; the opposite side of the wheel to most of her colleagues. Yellow energy is associated with those who generate lots of new ideas and keep team spirit up. Yellows sometimes feel they can bend the rules to get the results they want and are not known for their ability to follow procedures.
This is not to say that Team Member 8 (Karen) is not a good accountant. Despite a lack of Blue energy, she is able to understand figures, spreadsheets and complex processes and carry them out with a high degree of accuracy. It’s just not her natural style that comes out in the way she expresses her personality to others.
Within this team, Karen and Team Member 4 (Anne) work closely together, performing processes which intertwined and covering each other’s holidays. Anne is a very organised person who likes to plan things well in advance. She likes routine and follows her weekly and monthly procedures timetable carefully. Her holidays are booked well in advance and put in the other team members’ diaries so they are aware she will not be there. She leaves comprehensive holiday notes so everyone is aware of what tasks they need to cover when she is not there.
Karen, on the other hand, is not a planner. She loves spontaneity and seizing opportunities as they arise. There had been quite a lot of friction between Karen and Anne recently after a number of occasions where Karen had requested a short notice day off. Their manager agreed, provided her work for that day was covered.
By the third day off with only a week’s notice in as many months, Anne got annoyed. She did not like her carefully planned routine to be disrupted quite so often; it put extra pressure on her to fit Karen’s tasks into her already busy schedule. This compounded the little things that were getting to Anne, like the way Karen’s lunch hour was sometimes taken early and sometimes taken late, her seemingly disorganised filing system etc. Karen saw Ann as inflexible and unwilling to help.
We helped Anne and Karen to see that aspects of their personalities were opposite to each other, and that, by adapting their approach to each other a little bit, they could make their working relationship much better. A lot of the tension was down to communication. The Persona report contains a section on Effective and Ineffective Communication; how your personality type likes to be communicated with and what sorts of communication you really don’t like.
Anne agreed to try and be more flexible, understanding that the days off were important opportunities for Karen. Karen agreed to try and plan her leave more in advance so Anne could plan around it, and to leave more detailed notes for Anne to follow.
After the team session, Karen and Anne’s working relationship did improve. Their manager monitored the situation, reminding them to review the Effective and Ineffective communication sections in their Persona reports if it appeared that tensions were rising.