Posted: 13th November 2013

The anniversary of Nietzsche’s death has just passed. Whilst his thoughts on nihilism and existentialism are tricky to apply constructively in today’s retail financial services, his ideas on perspectivism have more relevance. Perspectivism takes account of many perspectives rather than presuming the truth of your own view – a lesson for us all working within teams.

Financial services firms need teams. High performing teams often have these features: trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and a results-focus. But what about the people in those teams? Using personality profiling to support teams is often met with hesitation but, used well, it produces great personal and team success.

Start by remembering that each person sees the world from his or her own perspective. This acknowledgement of others’ perspectives is vital to success in the work place. Personality profiling does not judge right and wrong; it provides structure and language to assess and understand each individual’s perspective. Imagine the people in your team as you read the following outputs from the personality profile:

  • Strengths and limitations: Strengths are “go to” behaviours individuals use because they have previously produced success for them. Those same strengths may become limitations at the point of overreliance. Team members who plough on with their ways of working regardless of the world around them may find that their behaviours do not produce the same good results. The failure to adapt – whether due to inability of unwillingness – can hamper individuals and teams.
  • Style of communication: Is this a big picture or a detail person? Some people think up big visions and others cross the “t”s and dot the “i”s along the way; some are fast or slow paced. Does this difference matter? Without acknowledgment, it can be difficult for these individuals to communicate effectively. If either type of person communicates without taking others’ preferences into account, goals may be miscommunicated, criticism or praise lost and misunderstanding – rather than work or commitment – may result.
  • The profile provides insight into whether a person is a self-starter and what motivates them. The needs of a firm or team will determine the importance of being a self-starter; and the extent to which to the team has the capacity and appetite for providing external motivation. However, what motivates someone – money, achievement, recognition, fear of failure – is a point of differentiation in individual behaviour. If you know team members have different motivations, you can treat them according to their preference and still achieve the right outcomes.
  • Vital in the fast moving, heavily regulated financial services is understanding how individuals deal with extreme pressure. Where are their pressure points? Do their roles in the team reflect this? The personality profile highlights individuals who feel pressure in different situations: newness in a role, managerial pressure, lack of clarity in a role, pressure at home, being in a role not suited to natural behaviours right down to whether they suit sales, decision making and strategic roles.

Overall, the personality profile provides detailed analysis about yourself and those around you; this is the basis for understanding all those different perspectives to help rapport and collaboration to avoid clashes. Used well, what results? Common ground is formed between even the most different team members. Nietzsche might not have foreseen this use of his idea, but from disparate individuals, a team of self-aware individuals able to express their own strengths, limitations, preferences and points of pressure appears. We start to work in a way which acknowledges each other in our teams with perspectivism in mind.

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