Know Your Team's "Colours"

Understanding team styles can help you work better with others.

Have you ever had new work improvement ideas but your teammates preferred established procedures? Have you been frustrated when they don’t value your ideas? Do you know what you can do to present the proposal in a more palatable way to different teammates?

Or, do you work with people exactly like you but senior management says your team needs broader perspectives? What is lacking in your team? A Devil’s Advocate, perhaps?

The Team Management Profile (TMP) is one of several research-based assessments designed for this, a useful tool to understand why communicating ideas in a particular way would make one person tick, while doing nothing for, or even irking, others.

A 60-item questionnaire focuses on how you relate to others at work, how information is gathered and used, how decisions are made, and how you organise yourself and others. Charles Margerison and Dick McCann, founders of Team Management Systems, identified eight distinct roles – colour-coded for easy reference – that people tend to specialise in due to their preferences, work experience and assigned function.

Knowing the “colour” of your teammates can help you adapt your communication, generate greater buy-in and resolve conflicts. Colour-coding your team can help you tap individual strengths, and
invest time to build specific skills lacking in your team.

Here’s a sampling of four colours from the Margerison-McCann Team Management Wheel.

Yellow: The Explorer Promoter

This person is so persuasive, he could sell ice to Eskimos. He has high-energy, knows lots of people and is good at getting resources. He is a visionary and a good communicator. Easily bored, he likes varied, exciting and stimulating work. He’s influential and outgoing.

Pink: The Thruster Organiser

She thrives on making things happen and seeing results. She enjoys analysing issues, organising and implementing new projects through setting up systems, and making decisions quickly. She will exert pressure on others, and may overlook others’ feelings.

Dark Blue: The Controller Inspector

He is meticulous and detail-oriented, a great enforcer of rules and custodian of SOPs. He is strong on control, critical of inaccuracies, and has a low need for contact with people. Quiet and reflective, he can dive deep into a few issues at once.

Dark Green: The Reporter Adviser

This person loves to collect information, and is known as the “H: drive” (historical drive – she knows as much as a shared drive). Tolerant and usually not aggressive, she is a good helper and supporter who is flexible with timelines. She dislikes being rushed into making decisions, enjoys finding out more information, and has a tendency to interpret issues personally.

What happens when opposing colours meet?

The Pink Thruster Organiser seeks results impatiently, but the Dark Green Reporter Adviser needs time to collect information to decide. Balancing both perspectives is important for quality team solutions. If team members are unaware of, or biased against, certain work styles, conflicts will arise. Without a language to describe the differences more objectively, conflicts can be taken personally and team effectiveness adversely affected.

What can team leaders do to facilitate effective teams?

Invest time to understand your team and facilitate team development. Describe how the team will work together, establish decision-making norms and have a process for giving and receiving feedback. You may want to read Jerry Garfield and Ken Stanton’s Harvard Business Review article “Building Effective Teams in Real Time” (2005) for more tips for a positive tone and environment, especially for new teams.

Colours in the Public Service

Looking at Civil Service College workshops using the TMP tool, most public officers are Pink Thruster Organisers, followed by Dark Blue Controller Inspectors and Yellow Explorer Promoters. Dark Green Reporter Advisers are rarest.

The Civil Service College offers the workshop “Team Discovery – Building a Cohesive and Successful Team” to discover your Team Management Profile and design a plan for team development. The next run is Oct 24-25, 2012. Find out more at .

    May 25, 2012
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