Getting the Best Out of the Diverse Mix of Personalities in Your Teams
Case Study – Paul Rogers, CEO, BladeRoom Group
BladeRoom, based in Cheltenham, make high performance modular buildings used for data centres, hospital theatres and pharmaceutical labs. When Steve began to work with Paul around 10 years ago, he had no idea it would lead to his becoming so involved in the business, helping to shape the teams across the business into the effective ones they have become today through coaching, training and role modelling best practice.
When faced with young teams, Paul knew he needed to do something to pull them together into ones that could work effectively and take the business forwards. Individually the team members were often experts in their fields, but they lacked vital leadership skills.
Over the years, Paul had experienced challenges with getting effective help in developing these skills. He also had to take a significant time away from the business to deal with a particularly challenging issue. And in his words, “when you have a strong founder member who is a bit of a handful personality-wise” it can leave a “massive vacuum” if for some reason he is no longer there.
What Did We Do?
Over the past 10 years Steve has worked closely with Paul and BladeRoom Group.
Initially he undertook strategy work to help Paul shape the business. Then began personality profiling across various teams to begin to understand their character traits. This helped encourage them to recognise each other’s strengths and weaknesses and to overcome their differences in a professional way.
He also spent a lot of time taking the teams through the dilemma between expertise and leadership – this is a problem often seen in certain industries – one where teams need to be headed up by individuals who are brilliant technically, but they are not necessarily the people in the organisation with the best management skills. Steve and Corine worked with managers to identify gaps in their leadership skills and try to plug these through coaching and support.
Steve worked very closely with key individuals to coach and mentor them to enable them to become good leaders of their respective teams.
While Paul was largely absent from the business for a period of time, Steve also took a non-executive role, supporting the running of the business and sitting in on board meetings to observe and offer critical feedback to those running the meetings.
And the Results?
The length of time that Steve has been working with BladeRoom Group demonstrates to some extent the success of the relationship and the value of his work:
- Personality profiling helped less experienced team members to tune into their natural character traits, really understand their strengths and the roles they could do well in. The team began to understand more about how each of them preferred to work individually and therefore give allowances for different personality traits to their own. This has helped them to resolve many potential conflict situations effectively.
- Observations and support in board and other meetings have helped young, keen members of the team to learn on the job – the most valuable way to learn – and to become more effective, helping to move the business forward.
- Coaching and mentoring work that was done with promoted managers and directors made a huge difference in a potentially difficult growth stage for the business.
- Paul commented: “I suspect we’d have more trouble in the business if Steve hadn’t been there supporting and helping me over the years.”
Paul recognised a common business problem. He needed highly skilled technical experts at the helm of his teams and within his operational board, but these weren’t necessarily the natural leaders within the business. Steve provided coaching on team dynamics, individual mentoring and training sessions on various topics to help create teams that could take the business forward to the future. He also stepped into the breach to help keep the business running efficiently when its founder and CEO was absent for a period of time.
What Paul Said
“Steve is not an expert in our technology, but he has the credibility, awareness and leadership skills knowledge to make a huge difference. There aren’t many people who I’d feel comfortable to chair a senior management meeting who don’t run the business. And he’s done many of these for me over the years. Most people don’t have the patience to constantly deal with people issues and managers that might struggle to manage effectively. He patiently keeps reminding people of the basics.
Steve is damn good at running the leadership skills sessions and profiling sessions – they’re engaging and people like them and get a lot out of them.
If you’ve got a complicated business with lots of complicated individuals he’d be a good person to call, have a cup of tea with and say, “can you help me put a semblance of order to this place?””Paul Rogers