• Andy Goram

Why Use Personality Profiling?

Have you ever taken a personality profiling test? Have you ever read the result and felt as though you've been put in a box, or pigeon-holed? Or have you felt for the first time, that you've been truly seen? In episode 51 of Sticky From The Inside, the popular employee engagement, culture and human leadership podcast, your host, Andy Goram, discusses the merits and pitfalls of such tools, with Nicola Jackson, a strengths assessment coach.


Whilst the pair are qualified in quite different tools, they compare and contrast their own experiences of being "put though" such instruments, and look at the opportunities lost when these things are used poorly, and the wonderful results seen when time and effort is taken to go deeper into the insights that can be found.


Below is a full transcript of their conversation, but you can also listen to it here.

A lady and a man discussing the merits and pitfalls of personality profiling
Nicola Jackson (left) and Andy Goram (right) discuss the opportunities missed and gained with personality profiling

00:00:10 Andy Goram

Hello, and welcome to sticky from the inside. The Employee Engagement podcast that looks at how to build stickier competition-smashing, consistently successful organisations from the inside out. I'm your host Andy Goram and I'm on a mission to help more businesses turn their lights on behind the eyes of their employees, light the fires within them and create tons more success for everyone.

This podcast is for all those who believe that's something worth going after and would like a little help and guidance in achieving that. Each episode we dive into the topics that can help create what I call stickier businesses, the sort of businesses where people thrive and love to work and where more customers stay with you and recommend you to others because they love what you do and why you do it.

So, if you want to take the tricky out of being sticky, listen on.


00:01:10 Andy Goram

OK, then Dan Pink's often quoted, and highly successful book “Drive” takes a look at the factors behind personal motivation. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. For me, the major take outs are the three factors that determine our desire to do something. He refers to those as purpose, mastery and autonomy.

Purpose is about being clear on the bigger reason for doing something. Mastery is the feeling that we're constantly learning and on top of our game and feeling confident in our capabilities. And autonomy is having the freedom to just get on with it. It's a pretty compelling trinity, I think.

And if I think about our current climate, I want to pick out Mastery for today's conversation. Recruitment is extremely tough, and more and more businesses are finally focusing on retention strategies to plug gaps in capabilities and skills. So, things like learning and development are firmly back on the agenda for more places (Yes, at last!).

Now part of any successful, individual learning journey, involves getting a clear view of who you are, what you want to achieve, what you're good at, what could be developed and how that fits in with your team and the businesses needs as a whole. And then there are many tools on the market to help people do that. Like me, many of you may have been “put through” tools like DISC, Insights, MBTI and Hogan, and over the years they will have helped in the personal development of many, many people. The thing is, do they really help as much as they could?

Are some of them a bit generic? Do they end up pigeon-holing you as a type? Do they really recognise you as an individual and the diversity and benefit you bring to a team or organisation, or do they supply you with a label that you can wave around willy-nilly to excuse you being your “authentic self”?


Look, I am a personality profiling practitioner myself, so I'm not here to slag off any of these well-established tools. I'm just wondering if we're using the right things for the right reasons and getting the best effect.

Well, with me today to offer a different perspective and opinion to mine is Nicola Jackson, who's a personal strength coach. Nicola uses another tool, Strengthscope, to help people and teams to recognise and harness the power of their strengths. With a background in HR and Learning & Development, she's passionate about growing capabilities from within an organisation and I'm looking forward to seeing where this conversation goes today.

Welcome to the show, Nic.

00:03:53 Nicola Jackson

Thanks Andy. Thanks for inviting me on the show.

00:03:55 Andy Goram

Oh no! Lovely. Great to have you here. Lovely to have somebody who does similar things in the personality profiling stuff, but uses a different tool, comes from a different background to me, you know, crossing the streams of marketing and HR and learning development is always a scary thing on this podcast, but today I feel confident. I think it'll be good.

Nic, I know you. I'd like to say pretty well, but my listeners, maybe not so much, so why don't you just give us a quick introduction to you? You know, what you're doing, a bit of background, and what you're currently focusing on.

00:04:28 Nicola Jackson

Absolutely. So, as you say HR background through and through. So, I had a really great opportunity in 2020 to go and leave my corporate career and venture out on my own when I formed my business, Personal Strength Coaching and I suppose for me the passion there was to focus on the personal development side of things. So, L&D has been my passion and that's where I really find my energy, so supporting and developing others. And so,, for me it was about getting a really good balance between being able to do that for others and also have a great family life. I've got a young family who absolutely I love being a part of that dreaded school run. And so, for me, it was about getting a bit of both and personal strength coaching has absolutely allowed me to do that.

So our focus at the moment is mainly around teams. So absolutely I support individuals and I help them in terms of through coaching, but there's been a big focus at the moment about supporting teams in making sure, from my perspective, they're using their strengths. The things that energise them, to get the best out of that team, to be as effective as they possibly can be.


And I suppose through the pandemic, people haven't spent as much time together face-to-face, learning and understanding each other. And so now we're coming back together there's a good opportunity for them to suddenly learn a bit more about what it is that they're bringing to that team. And I use a psychometric tool to absolutely help me do that.


00:06:03 Andy Goram

It's really important, isn’t it, to just take a pause there, to think about even if you're still working with the same people, the chances are today you're doing that in a different environment, or you've got people from an extended reach that perhaps you didn't see as often, even when you're in an office, because they were in a different office, but now you’re even connected on mediums like zoom or whatever it is, or Teams and your team set up, your team environment is quite different, regardless.

00:06:32 Nicola Jackson

Absolutely. And it will have gone through loads of changes. So, we all went to this, “can't work from home”, “are working from home” so very virtual, and now people are starting to come back together so, all of that absolutely has an impact.

And then I suppose there’s a question, “How well did you know that team if they are the same before the pandemic?” So maybe this has just put a bit of a spotlight on it. And then you suddenly realise that we don't know each other as well as potentially we could do.

00:07:00 Andy Goram

Yeah, I’ve probably told this story before on a previous episode, but I did have a friend who runs an independent agency in... I still have a friend who runs an independent agency in London, but he said actually over all the lockdowns, where everything had to be kind of done over video and 121 chats, he said,

I actually got to know my team far better, on a much deeper level, because I had to take the time to have those one-to-one conversations to talk about them, get to know them properly, rather than the sort of veneer of tapping someone on the shoulder as I ran around the office on a Monday saying, hi, how are you? How was your weekend? Not really listening?”

And I think this whole conversation is going to be around two or three things. Focusing on yourself and understanding yourself, focusing on the impact that you have on others and how that whole team thing comes together, right? And whether we're using tools for the right reasons, wrong reasons, whether there are benefits, whether there are pitfalls, it's going to be an interesting chat, I hope.

00:08:01 Nicola Jackson

Absolutely. And I think there are those managers that have absolutely used it as a real opportunity to get out there and get to know their people and thank goodness for individuals like that.

00:08:12 Andy Goram

Yes! Good for them. That's what we like. More of that. I said in the intro, that I've been put through some tests myself. Go on. Fess up. Which ones have you been through?

00:08:21 Nicola Jackson

So, I suppose through my whole HR background, I have been through quite a few. I've been through Insights, I've been through Myers Briggs. I've even been through one which classified me as a type of animal. And to be honest, all of them I've taken bits away from, and they have helped me to learn a little bit about myself...


00:08:42 Andy Goram

Which animal were you?

C’mon! You can't say, “I did one that said I was an animal” and then move on.

So what animal were you?

00:08:47 Nicola Jackson

OK, so I was a horse. So yeah, that was very much about your individual care and compassion for others and wanting to help and please others, which I suppose fits with what I do, and it has advantages and it has pitfalls, as they all do. And I did find it really interesting. It would help me really apply what the, you know, the theory behind it was, but what I didn't like about any of those tools was, in fact it put me in a box, and it described me as this thing. And all of a sudden, instead of being me, I was a horse, or I was green. Well, actually, there's far more to Nic Jackson than that.

00:09:33 Andy Goram

Well, we'll park the green horse thing, although it does... I spoke to a really wonderful lady on the Engage For Success Radio Show, just the other week, a lady called Jude Jennison who does leadership training with horses. Right.

00:09:48 Nicola Jackson

Oh, actual horses.


00:09:51 Andy Goram

Yeah, yeah, she's got like a herd of horses. And it's all about nonverbal communication and your impact on others and building trust. So, I mean, I know you as well as I know you. Now I understand what horse might mean. Yeah, I can kind of see that, right? I can see that, that relationship-building, caring piece. Definitely. But I promise we'll leave the green horse to the side of the pasture for now and move on.


In the intro every week, that gets played at the start of this show, I talk about “lighting the fires within people” as opposed to what was always said to me back in my corporate days, of light fires underneath people. And when we've talked about this sort of stuff before, you have used phrase I think is a similar thing, 'cause you talk about “Putting wind in their sails.” So, what's that mean and how does that relate to this topic today?

00:10:40 Nicola Jackson

Well, I suppose the strengths approach I would describe, if you’d imagine in your mind's eye, a picture of a sailboat. So that sailboat I am using to describe yourself, so that's you. And you're sailing towards a desert island. So, this dream vacation we've all been getting to, essentially our goal, where we're going in either in our personal lives or in work lives. When we're trying to get there, the thing that's going to make us a success in getting there, or actually, a failure, is going to be whether we use our strengths in getting to that goal.

So, the wind in your sails is absolutely your strengths in determining whether you get to that destination. Whether you get to that goal. And I suppose the tool I use Strengthscope, which I’ll explain a little bit more in a moment, that's a strengths approach, which absolutely wants you to focus on what energises you. It is a positive psychology tool, and you know that may have reputational issues for individuals, in terms of what, you know, “let's just look at the positive.” But actually, if you focus back to that boat, it isn't just about that

.

So, what we think about is the holes in the side of the boat. And those are your non strengths. Those are things that really don't energise you. If they're above the waterline, we absolutely in a strengths approach, don't even consider them. Because if they're not going to impact on you getting to your goal, we don't need to worry about them, because that they're... we're never going to be strong in everything. We are individuals and that's what where our power comes from.

If those non strengths are below the waterline, however, absolutely they're going to sink your boat. They're going to stop your strengths working, and they're going to stop you achieving your goal. So, therefore we've got to address those. And Strengthscope is a tool which absolutely enables you to improve your self-awareness, so that you understand what that might look like, and how you can use that to really get to that goal.

00:12:48 Andy Goram

I think that's interesting, isn't it? Because when I talk to people around human leadership and this stuff, that the word “authentic” always comes up, right? And we talk about being your authentic self, because everything is easier, right? You don't have to work hard to be something that you’re not. It doesn't mean we can't do other things. It doesn't mean we can't work outside of our preferences. It just means we have to be more conscious about them, and we have to dial up a lot of energy. You know, if I'm sitting on a spreadsheet, I know I need a little rest and a sweet treat afterwards to get some energy back up, right? Doesn't mean I can't do them because it's not my penchant. But it does mean I have to work a lot harder. And I'm sensing that's pretty much where the Strengthscope stuff comes from, right? The things that you're really good at and naturally good at is that right?

00:13:32 Nicola Jackson

Uhm, it is right. It is right. I think there's one thing to bear in mind, though. So, it's not just about what you're good at. In fact, it's what about your energy comes from. What comes so naturally for you. So if you're using your strengths, you won't say, “Oh, I'm trying to do that”, because actually you won't need to try because it will come very naturally in terms of you doing that. The spreadsheet example is actually one I use a lot with my clients.

00:13:57 Andy Goram

Oh, OK.

00:13:58 Nicola Jackson

Do if you think about someone who has a detail orientation strength, they'd absolutely love to sit in that spreadsheet all day, to submit it at the end of the month. Let's spend the last day of the month doing that, however, for those individuals that don't have that strength, that can be a real challenge. So that they're going to spend that day working on the spreadsheet and by the end of it, they'll have nothing left. They'll be totally drained. And so, in terms of well-being, it's about making sure that if you aren't detail-orientated and if that doesn't give you energy, we'll break it down and do an hour every morning rather than spending the whole day on it. Once you've done that hour and make sure you move on to something that really does energise you, 'cause then, in terms of well-being, you're in a far better place.

Let's not forget the person receiving that spreadsheet at the end of the month. Unless they work and understand and know you, they won't know whether you've got energy from that or not, because actually, the end result can be exactly the same. The quality of the output is there. Doesn't mean you can't do something if it doesn't play to your strengths. It just means that it's going to drain you in terms of getting there.


So, we often talk about what other strengths do you have that will take you through that spreadsheet? So maybe, it's that you’re results-focused, and for you what energises you is ticking that thing off the list and getting it finished and over the finish line. Well, perhaps that's your motivator. Perhaps it's not the detail, but perhaps it's getting it done. And then I suppose it's addressing the quality and those sorts of things that come behind that. But it's all about trying to maximise what your superpower is. What your personal strengths are to help you achieve results that way. So it's about “The How” you get there, not just there. “I've got there. I've achieved this. I've done this spreadsheet.”

What we want at the end of that, is an energised person. Not somebody that's absolutely drained as a result.


00:15:54 Andy Goram

Yeah, slumped over the keyboard. We don't need that.

I think it's really interesting because, I mean, literally this morning I was just conversing with someone on LinkedIn on something similar, about glossing over the good stuff. You know there's a tendency in business today of just, “We've done something well, don't worry about it, forget it. Move on. We've got so much stuff to fix. But not taking time to recognise where we've done really well, or where we've been strong. And this is the sense I'm getting from the Strengthscope tool that you're using, it's absolutely thinking about what you're really, what you're good at, what gives you energy, and focusing on making the most of those things, as opposed to just taking them for granted.

00:16:35 Nicola Jackson

Yeah, at stretching them. Really using them a little bit more so, but yeah, the natural human nature way is to fall to their, “Well maybe what I'm not good at” or the negative pathway of thought. But actually, what we want to do is try and move it to like the opportunity that's there. So in terms of what you are asked to do the task, might not change. You might not have much flex there. But what you have got flex then is how you address that and how you do it. And so, I think that's where the repositioning goes, changing your mindset. Instead of looking at... when people will look at their Strengths Wheel, often their first thought is, oh, where's my shortest spoke? How am I going to make it long? And absolutely, That's not about what Strengths is about. It's about making sure that you're using your long spokes, your Significant 7, your energisers, as much as you can within the role. Because you're getting the best out of yourself, your organisation will naturally be getting the best out of you. So, it's a win-win situation.

So spending a bit of time changing that thought process, changing that mindset into a more positive one, is a win-win for the organisation and for the individual.


00:17:49 Andy Goram

OK, well I want to pick up on something I mentioned in the intro. and I think you mentioned as well at the start about, when we're thinking about these personality profiling tools, and we've been through plenty ourselves, there is, I think, a pitfall that comes around when you feel a bit boxed, a bit pigeon-holed. And we also see it... I definitely see it in sorts of leadership development stuff. Someone has to come out of Insights or C-Me or whatever, and they start running around.

I’m a red. Just deal with it”, right, “I just need stuff!”

Rather than, what I think these things are about is self-reflection, self-awareness and flexibility. Being able to sort of adapt to different people, to different situations.

When you're using Strengthscope, how is it different? So how is the pigeon-holing thing not happening, with your tool?

00:18:46 Nicola Jackson

OK yeah. So I suppose with Strengthscope the wheel, in your mind... If you can imagine a wheel split into 4 sections. So those four sections, around four different areas of strength. So, it works well with the likes of Insights because actually, some of that maps across. Relational strengths, and we've got execution strengths, thinking strengths and emotional strengths. So those are your 4 quadrants. So, if you wanted you could absolutely look at those, but the point, the value from Strengthscope isn't about that. What it's about doing is looking... each of those strengths have got 24 strengths that fall within them, and using Strengthscope, identifies 7 of those 24 that are unique to you.

And the chances of you being the same as anyone else in those are 1 in 1.3 billion.

00:19:42 Andy Goram

OK.

00:19:42 Nicola Jackson

So Strengthscope is backed by the British Psychological Society. The science was always behind it, which I have to say I love, and I think that's one of the things that's really great about it is that the fact that you have got that unique set of strengths that will fall within execution and relational, and you will have a certain quadrant that, perhaps it's a bit of a higher percentage, but it's not saying you have to be in that quadrant or out of it. So, it's about saying, “Well actually three of your significant seven are in within execution, one’s in thinking. Let's look at that. Let's see what your bubbling under strengths look like.” So those are the ones that I haven't quite made that significant 7, but if you had a significant 10 they’d be in there, they also energise you. So how come we don't use our strengths in isolation? How can we use them together to have a real good impact?


00:20:35 Andy Goram

I think it's interesting. I do, sorry, I just. I think it's just what you're saying is really interesting because, if I think about the tool that I use in terms of Lumina Spark, it's similar. There's a lot of psychological research behind it. It's aligned completely to the Big 5 and Jungian stuff as well. So, this is where we end up seeing crossovers, right, between a lot of the different tools, right? If they're good, if they're backed up by significant science, and we love a bit of science on this podcast, but the fact that only 1 in 1.3 billion are going to be the same, I think this is where the better tools differentiate themselves. Because in the old days, and I'll probably get contact from people saying,

MBTI is marvellous. Leave it alone!”

Maybe. But I'm either an introvert or an extrovert in that assessment. There's no gradation. You're in one box, or you're in another.

If I take Spark, I'm recognised. I'm on a line between introvert and extrovert at one end. In one piece of measurement, and on any given day I can be extremely extroverted, and in other situations I might be incredibly introverted. And that measurement recognises that. It doesn't say I'm one or the other. And I think this is where we start to get into the interesting thing of what I would probably incorrectly term “better tools”, but other people might say “alternative tools” and even some of the more “modern tools” are trying to recognise that we’re far more complex than fitting into 8 boxes.

00:22:13 Nicola Jackson

Absolutely we are, and I think there's challenge. Let's be honest, there's probably a reason that we started out with these tools that boxed us off because there's advantages to it. They're easier for us to interpret, to understand. You can run around saying, “I'm a red. I’m a green”, and that, quite quickly allows you to make interpretations of individuals. So there's real value there, and like that's in terms of the investment you can spend, in terms of time and financially there's definite benefit there, that's not what this is about at all.


00:22:39 Andy Goram

100%

00:22:48 Nicola Jackson

I suppose the additional advantage of understanding and spending the time, because it does take (time) to come to really get into a tool like Strengthscope or like Spark, is to be able to spend that time in really understanding that individual. And time is something as leaders that we absolutely are always up against. So, to go to one of those box tools really does speed things up a little bit. But for us to be able to move more deeply into understanding and then taking that one step further, in terms of this, isn't just how you work as an individual, but let's put that together with your team players. Where does their strengths come in? Where do they then play together to show more team strength? Or actually, where are the risks? Where as a team don't we have strengths? And I think what that allows us to do is look really intricately at that team of people. So, let's not just make sure we've got a red, and a yellow, and a green, and a blue. Let's really take a deep dive to see within that blue, there'll be thinking elements that might be missing, and where can we find those? Where do our resources lie? Where can we go and look for stakeholders and other people to support with those risks or gaps in strength?

00:24:10 Andy Goram

I think this is the whole point of today's question, right? It's not to question the validity of these tools. It is to question the benefit that we are getting out of them. And at one end of the scale, like you say, quickly hacking if someone has red preference or blue preference, right, can be very helpful in communication. It can save you oodles of time. But there's so much more capable coming out of these tools for both individual development, growth and for team cohesion, development, performance. And at the end of the day, we need a return on a lot of this stuff, right?

00:24:50 Nicola Jackson

Of course, absolutely.


00:24:51 Andy Goram

So, performance is really, really important. It's nice to sit everyone in a room for a couple of days discussing all their preferences and how it all fits together. I remember when I sat down with the team and did MBTI and looked at my little dot, which was miles away from everybody else in the team, and I cried and said, “But that's the problem. That's, the issue right?” And, you know, those sort of things happen. But things can really help on a much deeper level if you really get into the benefits of some of these tools.

And I want to talk to you a little bit about your work and what are some of the things that you're finding clients want to use these tools for? How are they finding real benefit and how they're using it in not a fluffy kind of top-level sense? How are they really kind of like applying it in their day-to-day work?


00:25:43 Nicola Jackson

So, I suppose there's several ways that my clients are using theirs, and the first, most... probably the easiest way to implement for many businesses, because this is a different approach and we get pushed back in terms of how is this going to be received by the business. And that fluffy thing is absolutely there. Once you start working with it, you can see actually it's far from fluffy. There's nothing... it is absolutely recognition of strength, and therefore it's positive psychology, but it doesn't buff over anything that we don't need to look at. In fact, it allows us to look at it in a lot more detail. So, it's helping individuals.

So when I have a new coachee, often they come to me, they’re new to a regional role or they’re new to a line management role, and that's a big transition, Andy, isn't it?

00:26:30 Andy Goram

Yeah, yeah.

00:26:31 Nicola Jackson

You know, going through that step. So, often it's about supporting them in terms of giving them confidence. So, these individuals all of a sudden really value what they have, what are their strengths. And Strengthscope is able to be using 360 tool, so it has that element in there that really does allow them to get feedback from their team. So all of that put together; the feedback, the strength, knowledge, the self-awareness that individual has, really helps them in terms of confidence. And working through coaching allows them to really apply it to what they're working on.

So, I am so fortunate to be able to see the transition in those individuals from the beginning of the journey to the end, or mid-point in the journey, when all of a sudden, they're really stretching and maximising those things that they're bringing to this new position that they maybe didn't understand or value before. So that's massive.


I suppose moving more on to other ways of using it, I use it with sub teams. So, 2, 3, 4 individuals that have started to work together perhaps, or potentially been working together for some time, but aren't working effectively together. So they're not getting the most out of each of those individuals and what they bring to the team. And that sometimes, that can result in friction. So sometimes we have slightly different strengths, and you may have a critical thinking strength, where actually when you get some facts and data, you want to argue it out. You want to debate that in terms of how that idea someone’s brought up, works. And somebody without that critical thinking strength can land that and think,

Well, hang on. Every idea I have, I have in my creativity mind, I'm using my strength coming up with these ideas and you're just batting them down and being really critical of them.”

Well, all of a sudden that friction, when you understand each other's strengths, kind of dissipates a little bit. Because you understand they're not coming from this in a way to be critical. This is where their value’s added. So actually, that criticalness of the ideas can be really valuable to the team as a whole. Because once you get to the end of that process, you've got a real, great, quality idea. It's almost been internally assessed before it's launched. So that critical thinking is really valuable. But unless you understand and perceive why that's there and where it's coming from, it can result in friction. And actually that's where some of this is coming in really usefully, for us to get together with those individuals' openness, we build trust in terms of sharing what those wheels look like for each other and how we can bring those together and use them to make the most effective team.


00:29:20 Andy Goram

I think that's again, really important because you can get what I would frame as positive friction. So, because someone’s good at something, they’re always dumped with the same tasks, from the team, right.

OK, that that might work. In a lot of cases, it doesn't. It can breed resentment, or why I'm always getting this? But at the same time, that's not an effective use of that skill, because that individual can actually help develop other people by sharing their strength, right, by educating people, by sharing a bit of what's going through their mindset. By sharing a bit of their process, a bit of their thinking behind things to help try and grow and round the team as a whole.

I also think it's really interesting, what you talked about at the start there, about the point at which this stuff's really useful for people. Because often, it is making that transition, right, from team member, to manager, to leader. You know, typically in the early stages of your career you're leading task, right? It's a thing. Whereas you go through, you’re leading people. They're not things, right? They're difficult, complex, bags of emotions, and actually understanding how you come across to somebody, how you're perceived by somebody. How that matches up with how you see yourself, and how you move that stuff forward when trying to elicit help, support, effort from your colleagues, this is where this stuff really pays dividends, I think.

00:30:54 Nicola Jackson

And it's not, yeah, it's not, it's not about that person intent isn't the result, is it? So, the outcome you're getting is, absolutely not that person intent. They're intent is most in the main positive. But the outcome can be perceived as something slightly different. So yeah, I think it's really valuable in that sub-team approach.


And to take that even further, we then do it as a leader approach, so that's through a leadership team. That's more of a cultural change. So, the organisation needs to be ready in terms of reaching that point. And there very much, it's top down. So we talk around what are your team’s objectives? What does a Dream Team, look like? Where are you trying to get to? And all of that really leads to more of the other. So, more coaching, more sub teams... But the value comes from the fact that then is cultural.

So that's where it comes back to, you know, this employee engagement piece, in terms of really making a massive change to the way the organisation works, I think.


00:32:01 Andy Goram

One of the best things about having a conversation. Let's say I'm doing a Spark profile with someone. Some of the best conversations end up using that word “intent” quite a bit. Because we go through the profile, and we go through, you know, the things that they're over indexing in, or need development, and often when I ask a question as simple as,

OK. So how would I see that in your day-to-day? What sort of things would be happening?”
And, they'll describe behaviour. And then you flip it around and sort of say, “And what's the impact of that on anyone else?” And often there's quite a large pause.

00:32:41 Nicola Jackson

Pause, yeah!

00:32:43 Andy Goram

Because either they haven't really thought about the impact on somebody else, or they're trying to work through the, “Well, maybe I've never really explained that to somebody.” And all of a sudden you can hear pennies dropping, of going, “Right. Now maybe I understand why somebody, I thought just can't get it, hasn't really understood from my perspective what I'm looking for. I've not been clear, or I have communicated in completely the wrong way. I've communicated to my strengths, not to somebody else's. I’ve not given them what they need to kind of progress. So, someone who I thought was just a belligerent idiot all of a sudden I'm looking more internally going, wow, I've kind of...”

00:33:23 Nicola Jackson

Maybe they're just different from you?

00:33:24 Andy Goram

Yeah. Well, I mean, I think that is the ultimate base lesson when you go through these profiling tools, right? And it sounds trite, and I genuinely don't mean it to. I think you go through a lot of your early career going, “Why can't people just get this? This is the this is easy. Why are other people struggling?” And it isn't until you have these conversations, not just about yourself, but with others, that the old adage “Well, not everybody thinks like me” actually, you start to realise that it's not just a phrase that people say and there's evidence in front of you. And even things like putting up that wheel, or that grid to plot people as to where they are in the team, that's actually, quite a stark moment for people. I remember doing one where you put up that team wheel, and a bit like me crying with the MBTI, someone said,

Look! That's why I feel out of it. That's why I feel disconnected to you. That's why you think I'm not interested, I am interested. I just don't get what you lot are doing. I don't get how you are talking.”

00:34:25 Nicola Jackson

Dealing with it in a different way.

00:34:27 Andy Goram

And for the first time, at the end of that session, someone said, “I feel like someone’s seen me today. I feel like I've been seen.” And for me... I'm getting goosebumps now, that is a wonderful, wonderful outcome of having these sort of conversations with people. I'm sure you have very similar conversations.

00:34:47 Nicola Jackson

Absolutely. Those lightbulb moments for me, as that's how I would describe that, is what it's all about. So that is that moment of recognition and the awareness that absolutely we are all different. But the value comes in that. So if we are often... in my HR pass it we had conversations about recruiting in our shadow, like getting people on board that were the same as us. And in terms of working together, it makes it so easy doesn't it? Because they just think the same way, and we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. But then, all of a sudden, when you have a real cross-functional strength within the team, that's where your team is the most effective. Because all of those different strengths are playing to the success of the team. And so, whilst you might have those initial teething problems, once you are working together and you know and understand each other, that's when you're going to get the most out of your team. And that's where they're really going to be sailing when you come back to that wind in your sails. Because absolutely, they're all bringing those different strengths to the party.

00:35:59 Andy Goram

Yeah! I mean, I literally the other day, was going through an exercise with a young team of managers and we showed a fictitious wheel of sort of team colours, as it were. And there was a whole glut of Yellow and Greens, right? No Reds. No Blues. And we're talking very, very high level here, and we asked them a simple question, “What's good and what's bad about this team?”

So it's a great team! They're really happy. They will love each other. Things will be easy. They probably get, they probably work really, really well together.

00:36:34 Nicola Jackson

Yeah! I bet they do.

00:36:34 Andy Goram

Well, I bet they do. But on the other hand, there's the question of,

Well, let's think about the Lencioni pyramid, right. The five dysfunctions of a team, right? Trust first, OK? They probably do trust each other. Challenge the next one. How often do this lot challenge each other?”

Well, not very much.”

Right! They'll avoid any sort of challenge at all.

And this myth that teams are all lovely and happy and smiling. And there's no challenge, everything just runs smoothly, is exactly that. It's a myth. You know, really great teams do challenge. Do push. Do like really work issues through hard, to get to a point where they've all got common understanding and commitment behind something. And I think this sort of stuff is where you really see some of the real benefits of understanding your own behaviour and how it impacts others. And how that works more cohesively as a team.

00:37:31 Nicola Jackson

That challenge, that really leads to the stretch, doesn't it? So, in terms of, you know, there's no challenges, that we don't need to. Well then I'd question, actually as an individual, are you pushing yourself? Are you stretching yourself? And as a team, could you be achieving more, more effectively, in terms of if you were to challenge? So, to sit in that safe zone is great, but it doesn't really lead to an effective, striving forward team of people, does it?

00:38:03 Andy Goram

No. Just think about the time thing that you talked about before. I mean, I don't know a single client that I work with, where time isn't an issue, right? “And, well we haven’t got time to input in these sort of things, we haven’t got time to do these things. We're very busy.” But yeah, how much time do you spend running around 3, or 4, or 5 different times after you try to work something through, because it hasn't been worked through, or you have to recommunicate something 3, or 4 times because you haven't thought about the communication needs of this particular audience, or individual, and you're wasting time doing that. Wouldn't it be easier if you had this stuff down pat right from the get go? Wouldn't you save a tonne of time when you work problems through more effectively? Which means you didn't have to do second and third iterations of projects or implementations.

We just waste so much time, wasting time by not being effective in the first place. This stuff I think can really help people be effective right from the get-go.

And what real benefits do you see? What are some of the most common benefits, Nic, that you see businesses gather from the work that you do with them, from those lightbulb moments that happen?

00:39:10 Nicola Jackson

The main benefits, I suppose, are... there is so much depending on the team I suppose, but, in terms of... it’s the how. It comes back to the how. How those teams are working together is radically different. So instead of... those relationships are based on them pulling together towards the goal, rather than that friction being there and time and energy spent trying to resolve those issues. So having that understanding of each other really does mean that they're pushing forward.

One of my latest testimonials really talked about accountability and driving projects forward far faster. And I think that way you've just talked about your examples in terms of, you know, being proactive rather than reactive. You don't have to repeat because you've thought it through. You spent that time planning. And this all falls into that, really. So, in terms of what are the businesses getting from it? They've got engaged teams that want to work together, that want to challenge, that want to push and move that role forward, to be something more than it currently is.

Well as an organisation, why wouldn't you want that? For me it just seems so logical that this is something that really benefits organisations in so many ways.

00:40:39 Andy Goram

I would completely agree with you. And let's be really logical with a little bit of fun, right? Because we have run out of time already. But then, I mean we go for 1/2 hour coffee chat and an hour and a half later we decide, “Oh! Blimey! An hour and a half has gone.”

So, we've come to the part of the show I call Sticky Notes, Nic, right. So, I'm looking for some of your pearls of wisdom to get summarised onto 3 little sticky notes people can take away. And on the topic today of, I guess, making more of these sort of personality tools and particularly their strengths, what three pieces of advice would you give to the listeners today?

00:41:17 Nicola Jackson

OK, well my first one has to be starting at the beginning, so start with knowing yourself. Your strengths, your motivators. Make sure you know for yourself what they look like.

Number 2 would be, know your team. So understand their strengths and where you can step up, where your role is, your strengths are really needed or where those other team players come in in terms of their strengths.

And number 3 would be, consider how you achieve, not just what you achieve. Because that comes back to your well-being. And we can always go back to the spreadsheet example. We can all get the right output there. The spreadsheet can be correct for all of us. But we want to be energised at the end of that, not drained.

00:42:06 Andy Goram

Nice way to finish. A nice meta-thought for the end there about “how”.

Nic, loved talking to you today. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule and school runs to have a chat.

00:42:18 Nicola Jackson

No problem. Thank you.

00:42:19 Andy Goram

And you take care. I'll see you again soon.

00:42:21 Nicola Jackson

Bye bye.

00:42:22 Andy Goram

That was Nicola Jackson, and if you'd like to find out a bit more about her or any of the topics that we've talked about today, please check out the show notes.

So that concludes today's episode. I hope you've enjoyed it, found it interesting and heard something, maybe that will help you become a stickier, more successful business from the inside going forwards.


If you have, please like comment and subscribe, it really helps. I'm Andy Goram and you've been listening to the Sticky From The Inside podcast. until next time, thanks for listening.

Andy Goram is the owner of Bizjuicer, an employee engagement and workplace culture consultancy that's on a mission to help people have more fulfilling work lives. He's also the host of the Sticky From The Inside Podcast, which talks to experts on these topics from around the world.

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