Workplace Requisite: People Need People

What one does at workplace is function of personality (who one is) and the situation
Workplace Requisite: People Need People
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CHRO & Senior VP Business Development & OEM Relations, Mahindra First choice Wheels Ltd
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“People need people,” said the small daughter of William Schutz, in response to his advice to come downstairs by her own. Her reply was a powerful trigger for the great American psychologist to work on ‘human potential’. Based on the research he developed the instrument of Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behaviour (FIRO-B) for high performance military team. The interpersonal needs are like physical needs such as food and shelter, motivating individual’s behaviours. The proper application of FIRO-B can be very useful for understanding and leveraging the fundamental interpersonal needs of an individual in a team for his involvement, ownership and loyalty.

What one does at workplace is function of personality (who one is) and the situation. “Who one is” is the function of what one has gone through in formative stage of life? William Schutz called it ‘relational continuity’ principle. How one has been treated by parents and his other nears and dears in early age, shapes his world view to respond to the various situations. Our normal behaviour is developed by the un-extreme treatment, we received in our childhood.

Our self-concept for significance, competence and lovability leads to varying degree of respective feeling of acceptance, respect and intimacy. These feelings, in turn, create within us expressed (when we initiate action towards others) and wanted (when we want other to initiate action towards us) interpersonal needs and behaviour respectively for:

  • Inclusion (recognition, belonging, participation, contact with others, and how we relate to group)
  • Control (concerns, influence, leadership, responsibility, and decision making), and
  • Affection (closeness, warmth, sensitivity, openness, and how we relate to another person)

Inclusion is about “whether I am in or out” with respect to group. Control is about “whether I am up or down with respect to competence”. Affection is about “how far or close I am with an individual”. 

FIRO-B test generates the FIORO-B scores and detailed report of our expressed and wanted three interpersonal needs. 

We interact with the external world through our expressed behaviour. The high expressed behaviour creates first impression about us. The wanted behaviours are anchored at much deeper level; and hence, they are difficult to change. However, “expressed” behaviours can be changed through awareness over time.

I-C-A-I-C-A……A-C-I:  Schutz observed that a new person when enters a new environment, be it an organization or team, go through a cycle of interpersonal needs in the sequence of include, control and affection (I-C-A). In this whole process he will need to be made knowledgeable about organization, fully comfortable, and to feel “significant”. In the next phase of “control” he should be clearly told the rules of the game and his roles and goals. He will need hand holding for some time through on-job training, informal reviews and mentoring. He will need to be set for great success; and he will need to feel “competent”.  A periodic call with him by his seniors to know—how is he doing, how is his family, does he need any support—will help him feel personally cared? If he feels that he is being cared at personal level his likelihood of giving his full “commitment and loyalty” to the company will be very high.

Even in a team the members will go through the phases of I-C-A. However, as time progresses and members become fully integral part of the organization, the order of three stages get flipped as I-C-A-I-C-A……A-C-I. The team members know that they must redefine their own identity, when the group no longer exists. Hence, the inclusion becomes the most important need at the end. Leaders must understand this need patters and shift their response accordingly to keep the employees fully engaged and increasingly productive.

Team compatibility: Schutz established that the ultimate test of compatibility has to do with goal accomplishment. Through research it has been found that the compatible teams have higher probability of achieving team goals. Lack of compatibility cerates huge stress in a team or relation. Schutz mentioned about two types of compatibility.

  1. Similarity: If Ravi and Ganesh express and want little direction and rules, then, they can be compatible. However, the similarity-based compatibility may not work in case of extreme levels of “expressed” and “wanted” needs.
  2. Reciprocity: If say Mohan has high expressed need for caring others; and Radha has high wanted need for being cared. Then, they are likely to be highly compatible. A team can be made highly compatible by interweaving of reciprocal needs of the members. However, team reciprocal compatibility does not mean pairing of a sadist with a masochist.

Coaching scope: Schutz believed that an individual will always strive to meet his/her interpersonal needs. Our fundamental interpersonal needs motivate us to fulfil the same in repeated manner. FIRO-B score is the equilibrium point one has attained in one’s life over time. However, the equilibrium point can be changed if one could be made aware of how to give enabling meaning (self-concept) to what happens with us. A trained coach may help one change perspective through self-exploratory journey by asking powerful questions, deep listening and feedback.

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