Team Dynamics and Assessments

November 11, 2021

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We hire for talent and we fire for temperament. And we, also, usually hire in a vacuum. We could have incredibly talented people who are not clear how and when they might impact the team positively or negatively. We could also be hiring many of the same people and have a gap in our organization such as risk aversion, etc. Here are some things to consider about teams and how assessments can be a tool to enhanced performance.


Transcript

Matthew Kerzner: Hello, my name is Matthew Kerzner and I'm the Director in the Center for Individual and Organizational Performance, and I'm excited today to work here with my colleague, Natalie McVeigh. She is also a director in the Center and as part of our CIOP podcast series, I'm delighted to have Natalie here today. So Natalie, thanks for joining me today.
Natalie McVeigh: Thanks Matt, I'm happy to be here.

MK: That's great. Thank you. So we've talked about assessments in general in previous podcasts, and now we're starting to drill down a little deeper. Can you tell us a little bit about this team dynamics assessment?
NM: Absolutely. There are individual assessments and there are assessments that really tell you how you behave with others, regularly. And we have several in our center. We're going to talk about one today because 90% of expectations go uncommunicated in the workplace. And this assessment really hones in to those expectations I have of you and you have of me, and the unintended signals I'm sending to you that might give us a disconnect. And that's really what we want to focus on because when teams become disengaged and disconnected, they become less effective and less psychologically safe.
MK:Excellent. So what does FIRO-B, right, because this is the name of the assessment here, what does it stand for?
NM: Absolutely. And a lot of assessments are abbreviated because their names are ridiculously long and they're made by really smart people. So it stands for the Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behavior version. There are several different versions. We're looking at behavior. And so it's a very long name that all you need to understand is that it's talking about fundamental needs that I have for others and they have for me. And is there a connection between what I'm expecting and expressing, and what you're expecting and expressing? And if we can come together around that, or if we're constantly sending out bids that are going unmet.
MK:Very interesting. What are some of the specific behaviors on how groups, when they take the assessments, how can they be measured?
NM: Absolutely. So they're measured observationally, for one. So the way that I show up in the world, Matt and I are colleagues, we've been colleagues for years. He can probably tell you how I'm showing up in the world. In fact, I like to tell people once they get the debrief, to take home the assessment, share it with their spouse. They'll say, "I could have saved you a lot of time and money." The challenge is, we don't understand it. So it's a very simple form that you fill out online, that helps you express either your wanted inclusion, so how much do I want to join in on things? Your wanted control, how much do I want to be in charge? And your wanted affection. No, that doesn't mean hugs at work, we know it's COVID. It really means feedback. And then it also asks, "What are you expressing?"

So I might want a lot of feedback, but I don't show to people that I'm open. Or I might not want control, but I'm always in control. And so one, that is just deciding on how I'm congruent with myself, what's my disconnect between my wanted and expressed? And then if you compare it to a team, where if I have high wants for all of this, I want to be in control, I want to be included, and I want feedback, but everyone else on my team is low in all of that, we're going to miss each other. That's one of the ways that it shows up.
MK:Great. One of the things that I, when I work with my client or when we work with clients in the Center, I introduce the Tuckman's model, and this is how teams come together, right? They form, then they storm.
NM: Mm-hmm.
MK:And then they start creating these norms and then they can start performing. How does this assessment come into play as teams? What do you recommend using this for existing teams or new team members coming in, to kind of help with that Tuckman's model to help people through the process of forming, storming, norming, and then performing?
NM: That's a great question, Matt. And I think assessments are best used early and often. And what I mean by that is, early in the team's formation, as team members come on, and really doing a deep dive, which is why I don't think you should just send a report without a debrief, and then have a working session around it. So it becomes part of our language. For example, on our team, we actually have very low needs, our own Center for Individual Organizational Performance needs. We don't usually need to be included, we don't usually need affection, and we don't usually need control. However, people would observe the people on our team to be high control people because we will fill a vacuum if it's there.

And so when we have language around that, that ultra responsible people feel vacuums versus all of us having a power struggle, we can start talking about it neutrally. So my need for control, or the control vacuum, same thing with my need for feedback, or you can use the term affection, is very easy to talk about rather than, "Gosh, you just need a lot of attaboys here." So it's a neutral language. And as the team updates, we absolutely want to update the assessments. Again, have people go through it so that we're equalizing the playing field, we have equal knowledge of the information, and are able to talk about it fully.
MK: Yeah. You just brought a huge, very important piece to this formula here, when a new team member, this is that Tuckman's model, when the new team member comes in, you are forming and storming again because just the culture change, the norms are different until the new person gets onboarded and understands the culture. So if I'm hearing you correctly, not only is this useful to see the gaps of the team, current state, but when a new player comes in, you're recommending that this assessment is taken to see how this person's going to fit into the team.
NM: Absolutely. And that first workshop your whole team will do, might be two hours or three hours. The second workshop should be of a substantive amount of knowledge time for the new person, so they don't feel left out, at least 45 minutes. And it shouldn't be as long so that we can understand them. And as you said, Matt, which is really important, once you've done the assessments for a team, before you hire, we now know the gaps. We now know the diversity of experience to bring in, the places that we're not seeing because we tend to like people like us and that's who we're bringing onto the team. And you wouldn't believe if were looking at quadrants or however it's shaped, it can be circles or quadrants for the team report, depending on what we're doing for you, you'll see, pie pieces or whole squares that have gaps. And that's just really saying for you, there's a perspective you're missing.
MK: That's great. So I don't think you touched upon this, so I'm going to ask the question. Why are we looking at team results, if people are taking individual assessments, right? Because you're not doing this on a team base, you're doing individual assessments and then running a team report. Is that accurate?
NM: That's accurate. And it's a great point. Partly, we do the individual debriefs alone because the information is new. And again, it's self-awareness so there might be a part of you that is a little embarrassed, surprised that you had this feedback. Why we do the team is so that we can hold each other accountable. And not only can we hold each other accountable, but we're able to support each other in the growth pieces that we've set up. This happened with our own team, I use that example of control, where, we also, except for one member of our team, two members of our team were really low on inclusion. We don't need to go to anything together. One member has higher inclusion. And so then we have a reasonable way to accommodate one another. And so that's actually important too. So once I know something about you, how do I end up meeting you where you are and how do I then get to let things go? So that example of control, we now rotate control because none of us wants it all the time.
MK:Excellent. Well, Natalie, thank you so much for taking the time out of being part of our podcast series. It was a pleasure to talk with you today.

If you'd like to know more information about this specific assessment, you can visit our website eisneramper.com/CIOP. Natalie, thank you for being with us today.
NM: Thanks Matt, always a pleasure.

About Matthew Kerzner

Matthew Kerzner is a Managing Director in the Center for Individual and Organizational Performance and the Center for Family Business Excellence. Matt has more than 25 years of experience in organizational development with a specialization in assisting family businesses and closely held businesses.

About Natalie M. McVeigh

Natalie McVeigh is a Managing Director in the Center for Individual and Organizational Performance and the Center for Family Business Excellence Group within the Private Business Services Practice and has more than 10 years of experience as a consultant and coach.

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