Building Teams through Interpersonal Effectiveness

If ever there was one professional theme common to the challenges of most companies, it is the importance of communication. Communication, of course, takes place among people and with the aid of effective processes and it is no wonder that emphasis is placed so much on the value of self-directed teams. This article will describe the application of two learning instruments, the D.i.S.C and the P.I.A.V used in a two-day workshop to achieve improved communication and interpersonal effectiveness. Let us link effective communication to building a corporate culture in which core corporate values find expression through the natural behavioural styles and value positions held by its employees. Before describing this training process, let me make a point or two about corporate success.

A company’s success operating in a global environment depends primarily on maintaining and expanding its market share of its products and services. This requires providing an innovative culture and working climate where people’s most natural talents and lines of communication are made available to all company employees and demonstrated by top management. With an eye on these components, my present clients provide this training repeatedly for their employees in support of the company’s vision and mission statements. Superior companies invest in their staff to feel motivated and employed in the roles which fit their natural energies, values, talents and competencies.

The experts in motivation (Maslow, Conklin, Covey, O’Connor and Massey) all agree on two basic motivational principles: (1) all people are motivated and (2) people are motivated for their own reasons, not necessarily ours. It is therefore extremely important for management to help staff understand themselves and placing them into the work roles appropriate to fit their natural tendencies. Work teams too frequently clash when its members experience huge gaps of communication due to behavioural and value style clashes, pushing for results when not enough facts have been considered, members talk too much or too little or forge ahead with plan or proper procedures. Alignment among staff is required which much come from clearly pursued corporate core values.

The subject of corporate core values and ethics has received a real boost in corporate management of late due to the unfortunate legacies of some major players in the corporate arena.  With fresh consideration, management has realized again that ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand’ and the role of core values has again received its proper due. What is needed now is to build both understanding and skill development in this most important field of core value leadership and effective communication.

Consequently, a most essential question for management to consider is the very question posed by the researchers of Build to Last project (James C. Collins/Jerry I. Porras):

“What distinguishes excellent companies from good companies?” All their research findings funneled down to two discoveries: (1) superior companies managed by the preservation and application of core values (frequently no more than five core values) and (2) their core values collectively are to stimulate growth. Persons hired in these companies received training in the core values, reflect their commitment to those core values by living out the corresponding behaviours and being rewarded or corrected by the company’s management systems. The core values selected by superior companies are accepted as ‘the board of directors’, as the drivers for corporate success. It is on this basis that the Interpersonal Effectiveness workshop puts its emphasis on the importance of helping teams communicate their natural talents in the wider context of corporate values. Let us now become acquainted with the D.i.S.C behavioural style component.

Theoretical Underpinnings of the D.i.S.C Behavioural Style System.

Over twenty years ago, Dr. John Geier, then Professor of Communication and Behavioural Development at the University of California, studied the behavioural patterns of people in the workplace. He discovered that a person’s primary behavioural tendencies could be grouped into one of four basic behavioural styles – that of either being (1) Directive, (2) Influencing, (3) Supportive/Systematic, and (4) Conscientious/Cautious.

Further exploration of corporate behaviours revealed the fact that where management was trained to complete their projects with the help of the four different behavioural styles and train their staff to apply D.i.S.C style of communications, excellent communications begins to take place. When staff pay attention to a) results (the “ D” style application of ‘what’ and ‘when’ we will complete projects); to b) influence (the “I” style application of ‘who’ and ‘which’ ideas/people would make up for good communication and relationships); to c) supportive/systematic (the “S” style application of ‘how’ things need to be planned and d) conscientious/cautious (the “C” style of application of ‘what’ and ‘why’ we should complete rules and regulations/set standards, overall outcomes are assured. When people are helped to understand their unique style contributions and work well with others different from them, the entire team benefits. Individual self-awareness translates into balanced overall team output is practiced in the first day of training.

Theoretical Underpinnings of the P.I.A.V Value Style System

The research of Eduard Spranger in the early 1900’s revealed the fact that employees equally hold their unique value styles different from each other. To enhance the communication among people, respecting their unique values, this learning system helps employees to gain awareness of their own value clusters, that of  their colleagues and to learn how to connect with each other for the greater purpose of linking corporate core values with personal value stances. Similar to behavioural-style knowledge and application, this focus on value clusters also aims to obtain greater team results and for the projects to be completed in time, on budget, and with the most innovative outcomes.

To define briefly the six value clusters in the P.I.A.V (the Personal Interest, Attitudes and Values) System, the following primary value clusters arrange themselves in terms of priority to the individual. This clustering indicates the intensity and significance levels of held by the person and while all six value clusters operate within the person, paying special attention to the top two value clusters is of great significance to the person owning the value cluster and for the others to respect his or her value cluster to improve interpersonal effectiveness and maximize team potential. Let me define the six value clusters at this time.

The Utilitarian value cluster emphasizes the importance of always seeking a return on one’s investment. One pays attention to the importance of wise investment of time and money to gain their buy-in. The Theoretical value cluster indicates the importance of knowledge to the individual. It would be wise to consider the person’s knowledge and wisdom on issues considered. The Individualistic value cluster demonstrates the importance of role or positional power. Allowing them the power to lead the group while completing projects would be a wise move. The Social value cluster shows its sensitivity towards conflict and the need for harmony. Cooperating with them on matters of resolving conflict or creating harmony would be well received. The Traditional value cluster emphasizes the importance of working with a proven system based on values, principles or beliefs really resonates for them. Respecting their culture or ethics wins their team input. Finally, the Aesthetic value cluster considers such matters of form, beauty and harmony important to get their work done. Adding comfort, colour and music would bring out their responsiveness.

To repeat the same process applied to value cluster awareness and application as we have noted for behavioural styles, again participants are helped to understand their value cluster arrangement among the possible six clusters. The workshop participants are then guided to understand and respect the different value clusters among the participants and to enlist their creative energies towards achieving balanced and creative outcomes. The Platinum Rule is frequently emphasized which states that, “Do unto others as they like to be done unto!” All of this takes new understanding and respect for our behavioural and value style differences and the need to apply all the styles to achieve both quality and quantity-based outcomes.

Further Considerations and Implications

What brings all of this learning together is to understand how one’s values get communicated through one’s behavioural style while both styles must work the company’s core values for the best results. For example, one employee could bring a Utilitarian value cluster (wanting a return on investment), communicate this through a High C behavioural style (being conscientious/cautious in pushing for results) while needing to support corporate core values, such as innovation, competitiveness, communication. This person’s value cluster tendencies do link well with the financial objectives of the company while going about work tasks in a conscientious/cautious communication work style. This value and behavioural combination  could rub others the wrong way. Alternatively, another employee may reflect a Social value cluster (concerned to achieve a conflict-free environment, sometimes unrealistically) while communicating through a High I behavioural style (sharing high levels of communication and enthusiasm for ideas and people) while supporting the company’s core values as mentioned above. This employee desires his/her colleague’s support to spend a considerable amount of money to make everyone happy without possibly consideration of all the facts involved, the background to existing conflicts and the return on investment to remedy the situation. Each needs the other members of the team to bring out the better, more balanced and worthwhile outcomes. We all know that clashes take place when people are too different in value or behavioural styles. The consistent outcome of this workshop demonstrates repeatedly that people want to learn more about their unique talents, help others do the same and show a desire to work with each other for the betterment of long-term, total team, corporate results.


It is my professional conviction after years of training and consulting that there are a few top management steps worth taking to obtain superior and long-term corporate results. Research and life experience has stated the obvious – first, ensure your company’s success founded on 1)core values, 2) corresponding behaviours and 3) system supports. This corporate strategy requires leading from the top and thorough training for all staff. Secondly, pay attention to the important differences among employees behavioural and value styles. These natural energies and tendencies must be respected and linked into corporate core values. Through such training, employees will find themselves enjoying their work, giving their best and adding significantly to the long-term success of their company.

Respectfully submitted by:

Jack A. Heynen, M..S.W; R.S.W
President and Principle Instructor
Calgary, Alberta (Canada)