The OPPrentice - Episode 6

Posted 10 June 2011 by

Poor Edna.

If there's one thing that business psychologists should know, it's the importance of choosing your communication style to suit your audience.

Use of the MBTI can facilitate more effective communication with your boss through better understanding their approach and perspective, and how this may differ from yours. A greater awareness of your boss's preferences and communication style will allow you to present your arguments in ways which are likely to resonate with him/her. So, in Edna's case, a greater consideration of Lord Sugar's strong values and belief system may have helped her avoid the boardroom axe.

Lord Sugar is a barrow boy made good. The kind of man who might say "I didn't get where I am today by studying". He has often said he wants results, not qualifications. Thus one might conclude that hammering on one’s education, not one’s achievements, is not going to be best received.

Instead of considering this, Edna reeled off her degrees to an increasingly exasperated Lord Sugar.

Then it got worse. While Leadership Development is one of the many things that Business Psychology can help with in a very effective way, and something at which OPP excels, there are diplomatic ways to express this to the kind of leader who may benefit from such coaching.

By banging on about working with the CEOs of multi-billion pound companies, Edna implied that she could teach Lord Sugar a thing or two.

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Finger: pointed. Edna: fired.

Now, we're not going to claim we'd necessarily do better in the hothouse atmosphere of the boardroom, but goodness me, it's like she considered every response that was appropriate, then chose the exact opposite.

What a marked contrast to this flailing figure mouthing off inanities, and the charming and graceful person who appeared on the "You're Fired" aftershow. Will the real Edna please stand up? Media training or just relaxed and relieved?

There were few amusing shenanigans around the task this week. Notable was the slightly disturbing sound of Jim's Derry accent shouting "number 73 are you in there?" (to which we expected him to add, sotto voce "we know where your family live") via a loudhailer, then the owner of that accent limping in with a mere kilo of booty, the task was fairly straightforward.

What was obvious, however, was the lack of attention both teams paid to the waste entrepreneur guru at the beginning of the task. As Dara Ó Briain wisely noted in so many words: it's one thing to make sensible business decisions, but if your only business rival is as clueless as you are, you cannot factor in their irrational behaviour - like offering to do the work for free.

The most entertaining thing for us this week was the dynamic between Zoe and Susan, which had us on the edge of our seats. The animosity between the two women is now palpable and dripping with malice. The point at which Susan meekly – and correctly – suggested paying to take away some desks was the turning point. Zoe screwed up, big and proper.

In business, it is often difficult, but essential, to handle difficult people. As OPP told The Times in 2009, "It can be tempting to think: ‘Why should I change when they are the problem?' But the truth is that they're your problem and if you want it fixed, the most effective way is to take responsibility for the change yourself ... Often, the answer is to change something about yourself first.” We are sure Susan isn't the easiest person to work with, but this is something Zoe, as team leader, failed to realise.

Neither she nor Susan knew whether or not to offer money for the desks - clearly items with value to the client, who could of course sent them to auction or put them on eBay. The discount he would have conceded with the girls would be his payment for the convenience of not having to deal with them.

However, we would hazard that neither Susan nor Zoe really knew what to do. That they came to different conclusions, one of which was correct, was pure coincidence.

Thus we feel it was also sheer dumb luck that the teams came in within £8 of each other. But this at least meant that Venture would return to the boardroom to lose Edna. And we feel it was only Zoe's self-effacing confession of disaster that kept this week from being another double firing.

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