Getting the Right “Loose/Tight” Balance in a Playground Personality© Partnership

Publication 13, Issue 3

I love it when my clients call me because they’re self-aware enough to know they need to talk things through before they take action!  It makes my day and my client’s day too!

I got a call from a coaching client, Lou, late one afternoon.  He was tasked at his company’s annual conference to put together two workshops, 50 people each, on Day 2 – kind of on the fly, of course!  The topic:  Teamwork.  He was assigned this task with a co-facilitator, Tina. Here’s how the dialogue went:

Lou:  “Great, I’m excited, we can do this!  We know this stuff cold.”
Tina:  “Well, I think we should use a PowerPoint and put some structure to it.”
Lou:  “Let’s not use PowerPoint – let’s just wing it!”
Tina:  (Gasp!)
Lou:  “Oh.”  [Note to self, call Kathyg!]

Do you see how the miscommunication could end up—and over a PowerPoint?  Who’s who in this short scenario, from what you can gather?  Lou is a Revolutionary. He’s got lots of action in his comments.  The “just wing it” phrase is a “term of art” of a Revolutionary!  And who is Tina?  Yes, an Organizer, who has a nearly sleepless night because of her co-facilitator’s “Rambo” comments!  For Organizers, structure and order ground them; they can be spontaneous, as long as it’s scheduled!

So, what happened behind the scenes?  Lou is a very self-aware guy, Peacemaker/tie between Revolutionary and Steamroller, so he wasn’t going to challenge Tina, dismiss her comments or get into an argument with her over a PowerPoint; but he knew if they had too much structure in the workshops, they would lose the interest of the participants.  He knew, too, that he had to make this work with Tina.  So, Lou called me, not to complain about Tina, but to figure out how to lay-out the game plan by providing some structure so she didn’t feel like this was going to be a “free fall” event! Rock on, Lou, The Peacemaker!

Let’s recap what each Playground Personality needs in order to be able to function in any environment:

Peacemakers – need for communication, which usually smoothes over the rough spots, builds relationships and provides rewards and recognition; helps keep their universe in balance!

Organizers – need for defining things clearly, keeping on a schedule and having a solid plan; helps them to know that if something goes “sideways,” they’ll be able to regroup pretty quickly!

Revolutionaries – need for being able to think freely, react immediately and be impulsive; helps keep them engaged and in the moment!

Steamrollers – need to stay “above the fray”, explore ideas that haven’t been explored before and use their creativity and brilliance; helps keep them energized and ready to solve the next problem!

There was a happy ending to the story!  Lou sent a detailed email to Tina with steps 1-5 outlined, including time limits, numbers of groups and asking what other approaches she would like to add.

Tina sent back a resoundingly positive response admitting that she was in agreement about not using a PowerPoint, liked the flow of the workshop, and she confirmed the meeting logistics for the workshop—the furthest detail from Lou’s mind!  And, funny, even after Lou’s detailed (or what he thought was detailed) email to Tina, she asked “How many in each group?”  Lesson . . . for Organizers, there are never enough details!

P.S.  The workshops were a huge hit and they got rave reviews!

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