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Education & Retail: An industry case study in differences

By Dick McCann
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The Institute of Team Management Studies has completed a major study looking at work preferences across a worldwide sample of over 303,000. This sample encompassed data from 198 countries, 87 industries, and 407 professions.

The data for industries is interesting in that it shows significant distribution differences in the way that people like to work. To highlight some of the differences it is worth comparing a sample of 8,532 people working in Education with a sample of 11,062 people working in the Retail industry.

The major role preference distributions for both samples are reproduced below on the Team Management Wheel. It should be noted that titles of major role preferences are not reproduced for clarity reasons and that rounding errors may occur.

Figure 1. Major role preference distribution for worldwide industry sample: Education (n=8,532)

Figure 1.  Major role preference distribution for worldwide industry sample:  Education

Figure 2. Major role preference distribution for worldwide industry sample: Retail (n=11,062)

Figure 2.  Major role preference distribution for worldwide industry sample:  Retail

In Education, 8% of people showed strong preferences for the Reporter-Adviser and Upholder-Maintainer roles on the Team Management Wheel, whereas in Retail there were only 4% in these two sectors. The distribution for these sectors in the total worldwide sample was 4%.

The definitions of the Reporter-Adviser and Upholder-Maintainer ways of working are as follows:

  • Reporter-Advisers represent the classic advisory role on the Team Management Wheel. They are excellent at gathering information and putting it together in such a way that it can be readily understood. They are patient people who prefer to have all the information before they take action. This can cause others to accuse them of procrastination, but Reporter-Advisers will typically respond: 'How can I take action unless I have all the information?' Reporter-Advisers do not enjoy conflict and have 'antennae' that can detect a potential conflict well before it happens. Usually they move to defuse the conflict or position themselves well away from any direct effects.

  • Upholder-Maintainers are people with strong personal values and principles which are of prime importance in their decision-making. Usually, they have a high concern for people and will be strongly supportive of those who share the same ideals and values. They prefer to work in a control-oriented, supportive way, making sure that things are done according to their standards. In addition they prefer a low key, background advisory role rather than a leading executive one.

Much of the Education sample is comprised of teachers and we can see many of the teaching competencies highlighted in the description of the Reporter-Adviser and Upholder-Maintainer roles.

Also of interest is the difference in the percentages of Thruster-Organizers in each industry group. In the Retail industry sample there are considerably higher number of Thruster-Organizers as there is in the Education sample (31% for Retail and 22% for Education). The total worldwide sample showed a distribution of 27% for the Thruster-Organizer preference.

Thruster-Organizers are described as people who enjoy making things happen. They are analytical decision-makers, always doing what is best for the task even if sometimes their action upset others. They will 'thrust' forward towards a goal, meeting conflict head on, if necessary. They emphasize targets, deadlines and budgets and will ensure that people are organized to take action.

The retail industry is very competitive and focused on the bottom line so it is not surprising to see that Thruster-Organizers are in demand in such an industry. A lower key, more detailed, supportive approach seems to be the order of the day in education.

Industry work preferences allow us to understand basic characteristics of groups in the workplace. This can help us understand how best to present information and to be in tune with current industry trends. For example, when trying to introduce change into the education industry it is clear that respect for the beliefs-basis of decision-making is very important if new ideas are to be accepted. Change proposals in the education industry need to be framed in terms of basic underlying value of ethics, standards and putting people first. In the retail industry the focus is much more analytical with an emphasis on action. Change proposals in this industry need to be presented analytically, referring to such things as market trends, cost/benefits and bottom-line results.

Copyright © Team Management Systems. All rights reserved.

Please note that the data presented here is extracted from the Team Management Systems Research Manual.


With a background in science, engineering, finance and organizational behavior, Dick McCann has consulted widely for organizations such as BP, Hewlett Packard and Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank. He is coauthor of Team Management: Practical New Approaches with Charles Margerison; author of How to Influence Others at Work, the TMS E-Book Series and The Workplace Wizard: The Definitive Guide to Working with Others; and coauthor with Jan Stewart of Aesop's Management Fables and The Half-Empty Chalice. Dick is coauthor and developer of the Team Management Systems concepts and products and also author of the QO2™ Profile, Window on Work Values Profile and the Strategic Team Development Profile. Involved in TMS operations worldwide for over 25 years, Dick is now Managing Director of TMS Australia and a Director of TMS Development International.
 

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