Team Management Systems

The Workplace Wizard: The Definitive Guide to Working with Others

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The Workplace Wizard: The Definitive Guide to Working with Others

Author: Dick McCann
Gwent Publishing
ISBN: 0-9581313-0-9

paperback -308 pages

e-book - 308 pages

About The Workplace Wizard


A computer Wizard has become an essential tool for setting up programs to suit individual needs. The Workplace Wizard is the workplace's equivalent. No longer will you need to find your way through a labyrinth of baffling behavior, treading on people's sensitivities and stumbling over unforeseen obstacles.

It is written in straightforward language to help anyone who has to work with others. It is the ultimate guide to understanding behavior at work. Learn how to customize your interactions with colleagues to improve organizational performance by developing improved leadership skills and teamwork.

The Workplace Wizard is written by one of Australia's leading management consultants, Dick McCann. It is the culmination of more than twenty years of researching people's behavior at work. All the theories and concepts have been comprehensively tested for reliability and validity and are proven to work in practice.

Demystify people's behavior at work by reading the Workplace Wizard. You will find it compulsive reading and an indispensable resource for working with others.

The Author

Dick McCann is an international management consultant and researcher specializing in individual, team and organizational development. He is coauthor of Team Management Systems (TMS) - a system of teamwork development techniques used worldwide. He is also author of How to Influence Others at Work and coauthor of Aesop's Management Fables and Team Management: Practical New Approaches.

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Copyright © Gwent Publishing.


The title of Wizard has become synonymous with computer software. It's the magic program device which helps users easily customize the software to meet their needs. I have borrowed this concept for the title of my book, as I believe the ideas and models within will help you easily customize your workplace interactions by understanding the behavior of your colleagues. This book can become your Wizard for working with others.

For more than 20 years my working life has been dedicated to personal, management, and organizational development. I probably began as long ago as 1970 when I worked as a consultant within BP, travelling around Europe solving chemical engineering, finance and people problems. However, it wasn't until I returned to Brisbane, Australia working as a management consultant that I began to see the need for work-based feedback and behavioral models as a way to improve performance at work.

In 1982, I met Charles Margerison who was also experienced in organizational and team development. Together, we developed a work-based feedback instrument on preferences (the Team Management Profile) with the help of psychometrician and colleague Rod Davies. Further developments resulted in a suite of products known as Team Management Systems, which are now widely used throughout the world.

In the last ten years, I have continued to research and extend the original work on preferences into a comprehensive workplace guide to working with others. New ideas on Risk-Orientation, Values and Leadership have lead to a variety of models and processes, which enable diagnosis and understanding of a wide range of workplace behavior.

This book is the culmination and full history of my work. All my concepts, models and instruments are based on the fundamental ideas of psychometric research and have been rigorously tested for reliability and validity. I believe that there are too many unsubstantiated management 'fads' in use today and it is time to get down to solid ideas that have their roots in good theory and ideas that work in practice.

I am sure you will find this definitive guide all you need to understand workplace behavior and to use that knowledge to work more effectively with others and to improve your own performance at work.


The Pyramid of Workplace Behavior (Figure 1) encapsulates the results of 25 years of working as a trainer, facilitator, consultant, and researcher. It shows three levels of workplace behavior that build a complete picture of the different ways that people approach work. Various concepts and models at the three levels will help you understand the tasks that people enjoy most and what motivates them to give of their best. By using these ideas you will find it much easier to interact with, manage and lead your colleagues at work.

Figure 1: Pyramid of Workplace Behavior

Pyramid of Workplace Behavior


At the base of the Pyramid are Values. These are fundamental concepts or beliefs which people use to guide their behavior in the workplace. Values will drive our decision making and cause us to summon up energy to preserve what we believe in. They go beyond specific situations and determine how we view people, behavior and events. Often major sources of conflict and disillusionment are due to mismatched values. Whereas we are often willing to work on tasks that we dislike, we are much less likely to compromise when our values are under threat.

Values are difficult to observe in others, as they are inner concepts often buried in the human psyche and not readily accessible by the conscious mind. When these values are violated then the conscious mind takes over and appropriate behavior occurs to preserve and defend this attack.


The middle layer of the Pyramid addresses the way people approach risk. The behaviors associated with this operate at the middle level of the human psyche. They are not so fundamental as Values, as they can be influenced to some extent by the work environment and the attitudes of colleagues.

Risk-Orientation is the balance of energy people put into seeing the opportunities or seeing the obstacles. Some people will put a lot of effort into seeing opportunities and not worry too much about any obstacles that might be present. Other may see only the obstacles and therefore any opportunities are likely to be too risky. Understanding this balance is crucial in project management and implementing change.


We all approach our work in different ways - we think in different ways, we plan in different ways and we communicate in different ways. Some aspects of our work might interest us more than others and therefore we will tend to place more emphasis on these activities. Preferences are another name for what we like doing. We value our preferences but they are not 'Values'. Preferences guide our behavior, but if we have to work outside them at various times then we can usually cope. Values, on the other hand, are deep-seated determinants of behavior and we are more likely to react negatively when these Values are violated.

Preferences are usually transparent and are often the first thing we notice in others – 'He's rather quiet, isn't he?' or 'She never stops talking.' Some people prefer to think things through on their own whereas others need to talk out loud to clarify their ideas. Preferences are at the top of the Pyramid because they are readily visible to others and are usually the basis of first impressions. They are also subject to a degree of variability dependent upon the situations faced.


When we look inside the Pyramid we can see how to describe and measure the concepts that form the basis of each level. At the deepest level of the Pyramid are Values. These are described and measured by a model I developed to differentiate a wide range of Values into eight value types – Compliance, Conformity, Collectivism, Equality, Empowerment, Independence, Individualism, and Authority. These make up the model known as the Window on Work Values, described in Chapters 1-2.

Figure 2: Inside the Pyramid of Workplace Behavior

Inside the Pyramid of Workplace Behavior

Chapters 3-6 focus on the Risk-Orientation scale and the pentagon model which defines the components of Risk-Orientation as Optimism, MTG Energy, Multi-Pathways, Fault Finding and Time Focus. These factors add another layer to understanding workplace behavior and are the basis of a measure known as the QO2™ - the Opportunities-Obstacles Quotient. The ideas of Risk-Orientation add to the options we have in motivating, managing and leading others.

Preferences are described using the model of the Team Management Wheel which defines the roles people like to take on when working with others. These roles are built up from four key work preference measures: how we relate to others; how we gather and use information; how we make decisions; and how we organize others and ourselves. These ideas are discussed in Chapters 7-9.

By understanding all three levels of the Pyramid of Workplace Behavior and knowing how they interact to define an individual, anyone at work can have a series of models to explain and predict behavior. This knowledge can lead to greater understanding, better relationships at work, a happier environment and improved individual, team and organizational performance.

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