In this article in our “Competing more Effectively” series, we will briefly acknowledge and then explore some critical tools associated with understanding and motivating an organization. Like most of the articles in this series, this will not be an exhaustive study, but rather more of an overview. If you want, or are interested in, more detail, feel free to contact me directly.
I think it is safe to say, that motivated and inspired teams tend to perform and compete more effectively than teams who are poorly managed. Which begs the question, how do we successfully motivate and manage/inspire our teams? As it turns out, not all teams or organizations are created “equally”- or “identically”. Like individuals, organizations and teams are unique and different. To treat all teams in a uniform and similar manner almost certainly insures “trouble”.
As I noted in my previous article, I will discuss some tools and techniques that can help you learn more about your teams and team members. Specifically, we will discuss a few handy tools to assist in categorizing, motivating, and managing teams and people more effectively, all while recognizing the uniqueness of each person and group.
At a macro level, there are a few points to understand and analyze.
- What kind of organization or team are we attempting to motivate?
- What are critical characteristics of the organization culture?
- What are the team members like individually and collectively?
- How do team/ group members approach the world and their work?
To be honest these four “major” points represent a gross simplification. However, if we are able to establish a mental picture of the organization or team using these “points”, we actually are able to develop a reasonable picture of what is required to better understand “the why’s and how’s” of the team/ group reactions and actions.
Let me provide a brief word of caution here. The tools I will offer are neither complete nor exhaustive, as a matter of fact, I will really only focus on a couple of my favorites. These tools, like all tools, will provide a somewhat simplistic view of the organization/ group/ team. In the “real world” you will, most likely, want to use additional tools and techniques. But nonetheless if all you use are these few tools, the picture you will obtain regarding what works, and doesn’t, for your organization and people, will be much more revealing than if you do not use tools or methods, or if you follow a placebo approach (one-size fits all… also known as “and then, a miracle occurs” approach).
What is most important to keep in the fore-front is an awareness that not all groups and people are the same; and not all techniques work equally well within all groups.
My daughter would say that the previous message was brought to you by “Captain Obvious”. A word of Caution: Too many organizations fail to account for the uniqueness and strengths of their teams and team members; individually and collectively. Do not make that mistake; you will not be happy if you do!
One of the easiest and most useful approaches to take when establishing a motivational approach for your group(s) is to determine, as precisely as possible, “what the type or style of group you are dealing with”.
Probably because my early years were spent doing software, and I still do web-development, I have a soft spot in my heart for thinkers in the software realm. Larry Constantine is one such person; the other, and the most important one to me, is my friend Jerry Weinberg. Both of these men contributed significantly to organizational and personal development within complex technical environments. Two of the tool-set items I am about to recommend and discuss have been championed by Larry and Jerry over the past several decades.
As I mentioned, one of the most important tasks of organizations involves being able to manage them effectively. Sadly, too many people think that what works to manage one type of group works for them all; that is a fallacy which is essential to avoid. In fact, organizations can be characterized and analyzed so that they can be handled both with care and effectiveness. Larry Constantine in his research describes four organizational paradigms that characterize very different “business” cultures. (This link will provide you with Larry’s article on the topic.) Stated very simply they are:
- Closed: A traditional hierarchy of authority, with decisions usually imposed by those above you on the organization chart; such organizations are oriented toward stability and continuity. Examples of closed organizations include many large financial institutions, military, and governmental organizations.
- Open: Integrates stability with innovation, and individual interests with collective interests; adaptive collaboration, flexibility, and consensus-building are typical characteristics; change likely will succeed, provided that the team members participate in the decision-making, planning, and implementation. Examples of open organizations often include “established” high-tech firms.
- Random: Characterized by innovative individuals who go their own ways; change proceeds through creative autonomy; team members can be creative and energetic, but definitely are individuals. Examples of random organizations often include high-tech start-ups or research and development organizations.
- Synchronous: Features harmonious alignment of individuals with a shared vision of goals and methods, where rocking the boat is frowned upon; the shared culture focuses on the status quo, with little conflict or chaos; groups operate efficiently through tacit agreement on roles and responsibilities. Examples of synchronous organizations often include religious orders, charities, and social programs.
Once you are able to establish, or determine, the type of organization you are dealing with, then you can better prepare or adjust your management style to reflect their intellectual and emotional needs. It is also important to note that some organizations contain or reflect multiple ‘paradigms’. It is also valuable to note that these paradigms can, and often do, exist in any line of business. No matter the case or industry, you need to treat each unique component or sub-culture in ways that best allow them to work most effectively, as well as to contribute to any larger teams or organizations of which they may be a part.
Perhaps it will come as no surprise that much of the same logic applies to individuals.
In over 40 years of research and practice I have found the use of Myers-Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI) to be most helpful. I have found that MBTI, as a psychometric tool-set, strikes an appropriate and convenient balance between the complexities of individual preferences and the need for quick, easy to comprehend categorization. Remembering that teams are built of individuals each with a different world-view and perspective on life means that this task is not simple; but, MBTI makes it doable with an acceptable level of effort while presenting clear options. Most importantly, whenever I use MBTI with my clients they enjoy and agree with the results and options presented.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. These preferences were extrapolated from the typological theories proposed by Carl Gustav Jung and first published in his 1921 book Psychological Types -English edition, 1923 (This link will provide you with a complete copy of Jung’s seminal text).
Briefly stated MBTI categorizes/groups individuals into 16 major categories. For a good and brief overview, please visit and review that MBTI Basics web-page. When the MBTI assessment is administered professionally and used in conjunction with guidance from a professional who holds MBTI® Certification, MBTI is extremely useful in classing group and individual preferences in problem solving, communication, motivation, and communication styles. You can do this yourself with ample practice, but you will get results more quickly with experienced, professional guidance. The major challenge people have when using MBTI and Jungian Psychology is in thinking that there is a right or wrong answer, or that one style or approach is better than another. Neither point is true, nor are either appropriate.
Quite simply these tools are designed to help you understand your organization/ team and team members better. Once you know what makes your team and team members tick, you ought to be better able to manage and motivate them. Without insight such as these tools permit, you run the risk of “flying blind”.
Remember organizations are made of people; people are unique. What motivates one, may demotivate another.
In a following article, I will discuss a few specifics and pointers on “How-To” use what you learn from these tools to support your management objectives.