Team Management Systems

Team Management Profile: Helping start-ups take-off!

By Anne Paterson
Copyright © Results Through People. All rights reserved.

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Achieving recognition as the highest ranked IT Services Company in the prestigious BRW Upstarts Awards is no mean feat. For Deborah Brook, the Chief Executive Officer of CustomWare Asia Pacific, this was recognition of a huge team effort. CustomWare has grown from a handful of staff to 65 expert consultants, developers and support staff based in Sydney, Melbourne, Malaysia and Singapore, delivering IT solutions to a client base of prestigious blue chips.

Deborah explained:

"The staff explosion and diversification into new markets in a short timeframe has brought its own challenges and as we continue on this fast-growth trajectory, there is a greater need for people to work in more collaborative ways and to communicate effectively within and across different teams and cultures. Our team members are fairly young, and although they work well together, we started to realise that during their academic training, they had little opportunity to develop strong self-awareness or to understand different work styles, approaches and communication needs. This is vital given it's a multidisciplinary team of technical leaders, developers, consultants, support engineers, project managers, client managers and administrative team members. As you can imagine, we don't always speak the same language! We wanted to address this by giving our people a practical way to learn about their strengths and to understand how they could contribute these to their teams and complement each other more effectively. That's where the Team Management Profile fits in."

I began the session with an introduction on what makes teams effective and this was followed by an activity to introduce the Margerison-McCann Types of Work Wheel. This activity produced a robust debate about what factors were important for CustomWare now and what these might be in the future.

When the team members were introduced to their individual The Team Management Profiles (TMP), the results facilitated conversations about each person's work preferences and how these influenced their communication and decision-making process. By plotting the work preferences of the entire team on the Margerison-McCann Team Management Wheel, we were able to identify the team's strengths and the 'gaps' in some work preference areas.

In terms of the team composition, Deborah explained:

"There was strong presence in the Assessor-Developer and Thruster-Organizer preference areas, and this reflected our success in translating client needs into high quality projects that delivered results. Our team was also well represented in the Explorer-Promoter, Concluder-Producer and Controller-Inspector areas, but had lower preference in the role preference of Upholder-Maintainer and no Reporter-Advisers.

The Profile reports allowed our team to talk about practical issues and also discuss strategies to manage the 'gaps' as well as low preference areas in our work. The feedback helped reveal that we need to make a more conscious effort to undertake Maintaining, Advising and Innovating tasks. On this, we discussed what each of these three areas mean in the context of CustomWare and identified key activities in each area. Then we developed measures for each of these, as what gets measured usually gets done!

The simple visual of the team plot was powerful. It showed that our preferences were reasonably 'balanced' and this can be considered a strength. However, it also means we are coming from different perspectives and hence there is potential for conflict. A final session on Linking, and in particular, the importance of 'Pacing' allowed the participants to understand their own communication needs and, importantly, the needs of others".

No matter how much interest the Profiles create, the process must always converge on issues relevant to the development of the business. Deborah explained:

"We set clear expectations with our team leaders to ensure they followed up the training one-on-one, as well as back in their teams.

One of the unexpected learning outcomes for the management team was the identification of the need to implement structural changes to enable people to contribute from their strengths more effectively. One senior team member was supervising a team working with a great deal of detail, and being quite stressed by this focus, when their real skill and contribution to the business was in the delivery of quality technical solutions. We have now created a new role to manage the detailed aspects of our work and are in the process of filling this currently.

Our Malaysian office is being expanded into another research and development facility with links to our offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore and we have committed to running the same workshop there shortly. All new employees will also complete a TMP, as when a new member joins it has an impact on the team. The TMP can help fast-track getting to know one another and we can find out how to get the best from the new employee.

We are seeing the benefits of creating a shared understanding amongst team members and developing a common language of teamwork that crosses geographical boundaries. The Team Management Profile has been instrumental in helping us achieve this goal".

Copyright © Results Through People. All rights reserved.

Anne Paterson is Director of Results Through People, a consulting and training organization dedicated to helping businesses achieve results through harnessing the potential of their people. She has over 20 years’ experience of human resource management in the UK, mainland Europe and Australia. Before founding Results Through People in 1994, Anne worked with British Airways providing an internal HR consultancy service to BA’s European operation and later, as Head of Human Resources, she managed a team providing a range of HR advice and support services to a number of work units. Anne has worked with senior executives, managers and team members in a wide range of industries and organizations to improve performance at both an individual and team level. She is a Master Trainer of Team Management Systems (TMS) and uses a number of TMS instruments to increase self-awareness and develop more effective team relationships. As a consultant, Anne has worked with a wide range of clients in the telecommunications, transport, services, financial, IT, local government and manufacturing sectors on a range of issues. Clients include Alcon International, American Express, AHRI (Australian Human Resources Institute,) BT Financial, Carl Zeiss, Cuscal (Credit Unions), Department of Communities, Department of Education and Employment, HATCH Engineering, Queensland Treasury, Red Cross, Stockland, Telstra, and 3M.

For more information contact Anne by e-mail: or visit

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