Which Work Functions are the Biggest Struggle – Part 2

Tom GibbonsOrganization Development, Preference Assessments, TMS ApplicationsLeave a Comment

The last post identified 3 of the work functions from the Margerison McCann Types of Work Model that tend to be challenging for teams in organizations to play:

  • Maintaining
  • Advising
  • Developing

When we add work preferences into the picture from the Team Management Profile (TMP) there are additional perspectives that may be at play here.  The work preferences identified in the TMP are as follows:

These work preferences are correlated to the work functions of the Types of Work Model; some preferences are more closely related to some work functions than others. This is a very important part of the TMP and is illustrative of why Maintaining, Advising and Developing may be a challenge for teams.

The letters around the outside of the Types of Work Model in the above graphic stand for Extroversion, Introversion, Creative etc. In TMS terms we would say that the preference ‘anchors’ for any work function are the preferences most closely correlated to it; for instance the preference anchors for the Developing work function are Extroversion and Analytic. So if you are performing work in a specific work function you will be exercising those preference anchors. Even if you have not expressed a preference for them in your TMP.

You will note that the Beliefs preference is one of the preference anchors for both the Maintaining and Advising work functions. Over the 30+ year history of TMP use, the Beliefs preference is consistently under represented.  This is true across all demographics. It seems that the work environment emphasizes the Analytic preference and context does influence preference.

From a TMP preference perspective then, this under representation of the Beliefs preference may be a contributing factor to the point made in the last post regarding why Maintaining and Advising are a performance challenge for teams. These 2 work functions tend to be  neglected. Not only does the short term focus of organizations create this neglect, the under representation of the Beliefs preference may be contributing to this neglect as well! Maintaining and Advising are simply not on the preference radar screen as much!

The same cannot be said for the Developing work function. The preference anchors here are Extroversion and Analytic; no under representation here! What these anchors mean though is that when you are doing work in the Developing function; answering the question ‘What do we move forward with?’ the Analytic preference is Extroverted. This means very active and involved discussion using objective data. There is the potential for significant conflict.

Imagine this scenario. A senior team needing to decide on a course of action that will commit large amounts of resources to the execution of that decision. The senior person (the person with the most power) strongly states their position on what course of action should be taken. Their stated position has more influence than anyone else on the team, not necessarily because it is the most well thought out and analyzed, but because they have the most power. If this team has not grappled with the power dynamics at play here there is a good chance the sway of the senior person’s power will rule the decision to be made. Even  if it is not the best decision. We have all seen this play out. You mix Extroversion, Analytic and power and you have a lot of potential for a compromise of effective decision making.

So there are both organizational factors which contribute to the challenges in performing the Maintaining, Advising and Developing work functions as well as preference factors. It typically takes a conscious effort to deal with these factors.

We’ll take a look at what those conscious efforts might look like in the next post.

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