Do Your Change Agents Match Your Team Members' Personalities?

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In her Personality Matters series, Leslie Sachs examines the personalities and people issues that are found in technology groups from cross-functional, high-performance teams to dysfunctional matrix organizations.

Summary:
Configuration management focuses on software process improvement in an organization in many important ways, impacting the application build, package, and deployment. However, some organizations are more open to change than others. If you want to be successful at bringing about positive change, then you need to be able to assess and understand the personality of your organization and identify the key change agents who can help you get the job done.

Configuration management focuses on software process improvement in an organization in many important ways, impacting the application build, package, and deployment. However, some organizations are more open to change than others. If you want to be successful at bringing about positive change, then you need to be able to assess and understand the personality of your organization and identify the key change agents who can help you get the job done.

Configuration management focuses on software process improvement in an organization in many important ways, impacting the application build, package, and deployment. However, some organizations are more open to change than others. If you want to be successful at bringing about positive change, then you need to be able to assess and understand the personality of your organization and identify the key change agents who can help you get the job done.

OrganizatioJugglingns have cultures that foster many traits that are essentially personalities that influence the day-to-day working environment. Some organizations (e.g. hedge funds) are very insular with a strong air of secrecy while others (e.g. many dot coms and startups) maintain an overt theme of creativity and exceptionalism. Individuals and teams within the organization may also have personalities that are in alignment with the corporate culture and occasionally at odds with the status quo. Being at odds with the existing culture and environment is not always bad, but it may impact how you are perceived by others and, ultimately, your effectiveness. As Jurgen Appelo notes, “A person's behavior is a function of his or her personality and the environment.” [1] Jurgen further notes that, “without the right team personality, it is hard to get any creativity out of a team.” [2]

To bring about change, you need to assess and understand the organization’s culture as well as the personalities of the teams (and team members). Keep in mind that there are many factors that may impact how a team and each of its members operate. For example, some people operate solely as individuals, while others are more concerned with being in alignment with the other group members. In psychology, there has been a tremendous amount of research into how individuals and teams operate. For example, as noted in a recent international study, “In many Asian cultures, personality is constructed on the basis of an alternative model of the person as interdependent. In these cultures, then, personality is experienced and understood as behavior that is characteristic of the person in relationship with others in particular social contexts.” [3] Understanding how the team and the organizations view themselves is essential for bringing about positive change.

Bringing about positive change in many organizations must be a top-down endeavor, with senior management giving clear directives to all stakeholders. However, this is not always sufficient, as some members of the team may be very skeptical after having heard senior management make similar, unfulfilled proclamations in the past.

Make sure that you match your software configuration management process to the culture of the organization. For example, some organizations require a complete explanation for any change that takes place in order for the new rules or procedures to be viewed as acceptable and fair. If you do not approach change in this manner, then don't be surprised when some members of the team show a creative ability to circumvent your proposed change.

About the author

Leslie  Sachs's picture Leslie Sachs

Leslie Sachs is a New York state certified school psychologist and the COO of Yellow Spider, Inc. (http://yellowspiderinc.com). Leslie is the coauthor of Configuration Management Best Practices: Practical Methods that Work in the Real World, Addison-Wesley Professional (http://cmbestpractices.com). Ms. Sachs has more than twenty years of experience in the psychology field and has worked in a variety of clinical and business settings where she has provided many effective interventions designed to improve the social and educational functioning of both individuals and groups. Ms. Sachs has an M.S. in School Psychology from Pace University and interned in Bellevue's Psychiatric Center in New York city. A firm believer in the uniqueness of every individual, she has recently done advanced training with Mel Levine's "All Kinds of Minds" Institute. She may be reached at LeslieASachs@gmail.com, or link with her http://www.linkedin.com/in/lesliesachs.

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