Is life good?

Posted 19 July 2012 by
Is Life Good?

It’s not ‘spit your tea out’ funny, but it made me chuckle. The simplicity of the Is Life Good? flowchart really resonates and provokes the immediate response: “OK then, I’ll change something!” We all need to change and develop – that’s part of ‘growing up’, part of life. But the million-dollar question is “Where do I start?”

With work stuff in particular, it’s easy to get into a rut, to get tired and to feel tied in to the monthly paycheck. This is where business psychology comes in – it can help guide you in deciding whether the changes you want to make are big or small. Changing job entirely? Changing career? Or just trying to make each day more productive?

In the HR world we’re often helping others to make changes in their lives, and so it’s our job to know where to start. Business psychology usually begins with self-awareness. And for good reason: when we understand ourselves we have better conversations and make better decisions – including those we need to bring about changes.

Knowing more about yourself and understanding your personality can:

How we, as L&D professionals, help others develop should depend on personality. For example, an employee comes to you looking for something new – a change in their role, perhaps. Through a coaching conversation you can begin the process by helping them generate and research some options. For an employee who prefers detail, facts and experience (in MBTI-land we call this a preference for Sensing), you would probably want to include realistic and practical choices, get them to focus on realities, and then support them in broadening their options, as this bit will be more difficult (ie non-preferred) for them. For another employee you might want to use brainstorming, visioning of possibilities, and lists of options (in MBTI-land we call this Intuition). This person would need more support and guidance in narrowing their options and being more realistic in their approach.

Or suppose you are coaching a manager with a preference for Introversion who looks after a large team – what can they change? Could more team leaders be introduced to remove the burden of having so many people reporting in? Or could some quiet working time be scheduled each day, enabling the manager to work alone?

The ‘Is Life Good?’ diagram could act equally well as a staff health-check: does your team think life’s good? If not, what can be done about it? Business psychology can help diagnose what might need to change – and, crucially, can work towards making sure that life really is good for your teams. For example, you may be working with a team of people who seem to get along famously, without any outward signs of conflict. But you may start to question whether this is actually healthy and likely to bring results. That’s where a tool like TKI comes in. It can detect conflict-handling modes and discover what’s really going on under the surface.

Teams do need challenge and a sense of dialogue – that’s the vital ingredient that takes results from mediocre to outstanding. So, a more helpful flowchart might say: ‘Change something – using psychological insight to help you know where to start!’  But that would be a bit long winded...

Sources/further reading: Type and Career Development: Donna Dunning Introduction to Conflict Management: Kenneth W. Thomas Dialogue and the art of thinking together: William Isaacs

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