The ABCs of Collaborative Working Relationships

Effective working relationships are about Authentic Beneficial Connections

We all want good working relationships, yet we all know things sometimes go horribly wrong. Our work shows that our motives drive our intentions and behaviours, and, as we have explored in previous posts, that we tend to deploy our personal strengths more frequently. We also know we can overdo strengths to the point they become weaknesses when things go wrong, and if that happens we must find reasons to borrow less favoured strengths to put things right.

So how do we do it and what does the ABC of good working relationships look like?

A is for: Assess your and others’ motives.

We are all driven by a blend of three primary motives and values which are central to our sense of self-worth. The first primary motive is a drive to help others, (PEOPLE), the second primary motive is a drive to achieve results (PERFORMANCE) and the third primary motive is a drive to establish order (PROCESS). The frequency of when we are driven by each of these three primary motives gives us our own unique Motivational Value System (MVS).

These motives drive our behaviour and shape our approach to a situation; those with a People MVS are looking to be helpful; someone with a performance MVS wants results; and those with a process MVS want analysis and planning. All perfectly reasonable and equally valid, but when people with different Motivational Value Systems must work together there’s potential for conflict.

You know what motivates you but do you think about what motivates the other members of your team? Listening to the reactions of others will give you strong clues to their MVS and enable you to adapt your own approach accordingly. If someone with a process MVS wants to slow down and assess the situation, that’s what they need to do to perform at their best – so let them do it. If you have a performance MVS you may find it a little frustrating but appreciating the difference instead of pushing against it will be more productive. You’ll have a happier team and a better result if you do.

B is for: Bring the right strengths.

We all want to deploy our strengths to best use but we can overdo it, and ‘too much’ is a judgement call – and it’s not you who’s making it. So, for example, deploying your Helpful strength excessively may come across to others as Smothering. If you’re getting a negative reaction think about borrowing a different strength to smooth things over, perhaps replacing Helpful (I’ll do that for you) with Supportive (Do you need anything from me?).

By showing behavioural flexibility and deploying the most appropriate strengths in any particular situation, you become the steadying hand that steers the team to harmony and success.

C is for: Communicate in the right style.

As your understanding of other team members’ MVS’s grows, not only can you adapt your style to accommodate them, you can change how you communicate with them to maximise your positive impact. Anticipate what is driving the other’s self-worth and build your communication to play to it.

Those with a people MVS will want to understand the social connection, people with a performance MVS will want to hear about high-level actions and results, whilst individuals with a process MVS will be looking for details, structure, facts and plans. Let them all have what they want. By accommodating everyone’s MVS you’ll get the best result and great working relationships.

Who knows, you may even Achieve Better Conversations?

Matt Leighton, Marketing Executive
A self-described lifelong learner, Matt has a genuine interest in what makes people tick, and how to get the best out of them. One of Matt’s roles at Personal Strengths UK is to keep banging the TotalSDI drum, sharing powerful Relationship Awareness Theory messages to get people working better together, through sustainable ‘people improvement’ training programmes using TotalSDI.


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