Grasping each other's needs is vital to good teamwork

It is a truth which is universally acknowledged that the best teams consist of team players rather than talented individuals trying to beat each other (ie others on the same team).  Less universally acknowledged however is that team-work is by no means a natural innate skill, nor is it particularly something that is rewarded either at school or even at work.

Off the playing field school children are told off for sharing (its called copying), and many organisations reward those who claim credit rather than give credit.  Indeed this can be one of the hardest things to explain to someone joining MediaCom from a different employment culture: – that if you will genuinely get more credit for making your colleagues look like heroes than for proclaiming yourself a hero.

It is of course best tackled not only in an informal way, but with training.  It is certainly not best left to chance in my experience, especially during recessions or indeed expansion periods.  One of the most well known techniques is Myers Briggs.  Dating back to 1923 and based on Jungian personality typologies, Myers Briggs classifies people by their preferred ways of thinking and acting.  Crucially the point is that there is no right or wrong typology.  The four main types are Extraversion / Introversion; Sensing / Intuition; Thinking / Feeling; Judging / Perceiving.  The theory is that you have a preference for one type or another in each pair, just as you have a preference for being right or left handed.  The revelations that can come from understanding how someone else is making decisions on a different basis from you can be really powerful and help teams of people manage disagreements and improve dialogue.

If Myers Briggs works with how people prefer to communicate and how they make decisions then FIRO deals with people’s fundamental interpersonal needs.  FIRO (Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation) was introduced by an American psychologist William Schutz in 1958.  His theory is based on the belief that when people get together in a group they have three main needs in varying degrees which affect how they behave with each other: Affection, Control and Inclusion.  If you happen for instance to have a very low need for affection from others in the work place, but the rest of your team have a high need for it, trouble will ensue that has nothing to do with the task in hand, unless you can diagnose and understand the situation.

The best teams understand each other and support each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  New teams coming to work together in new ways will be massively supported by some “psychological” understanding of each other, and its key that this extends throughout the widest possible expression of the team.  It would only enhance partnerships between media agencies and media owners in the new paradigm to be clear about each other’s underlying motivations.  Client and agency teams also benefit from the deepest possible understanding of each other, on an emotional as well as a business level.

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