Introduction – what is Process Communication Model?
As you might already know, PCM is an internationally acclaimed, highly reliable, behaviourally based communication model, used to individually tailor connection and motivation and build trust and rapport. PCM profiles reveal a host of insights about how a person perceives the world, how they communicate, how they are motivated and how they will behave in distress.
If you are not yet familiarised with PCM, please read its very short description HERE, so we’ll be on the same page and ready to discover how PCM can help you to better motivate your teams 🙂 .
So, we agreed that each of the six personality types communicates, learns and is motivated differently, and has a different set of behaviours when in distress.
We also said that the Base, or the ground floor in our personality condominium, indicates the dominant, most highly developed personality type. We also agreed that being able to identify another’s Base helps us to use the most effective communication channel and perception to connect with that person.
On the other hand, and this is where I zoom in to what is the most important concept for this post, the Phase provides keys to understanding what motivates people and what stresses them. That is because one feels mainly the psychological needs of the Phase (not of their Base personality type), and these affect our motivation on a day-to-day basis. If we feed these needs, we will be again positive, efficient, and able to focus on the tasks at hand. If we don’t have these needs fulfilled, we will enter in our phase-specific distress sequence, put on a mask and start exhibiting the specific negative behaviours, while trying to actually fulfil those needs negatively…
While the Base personality type is fixed and will stay the same for all our life, the Phase can change under certain conditions. This is why, sometimes, we meet friends we known for ages but didn’t have contact for some years, and somehow they seem like a different person. They are still the same from the point of view of their base-related features (traits, perceptions, currency, strengths, etc.) but the elements that motivate or stress them now are different.
Note: early in our lives, our Base and Phase will be the same; depending on what life confronts us with, we might change our Phase once, twice, or more times… or not at all.
Returning to the idea of psychological needs: if we understand what other people’s psychological needs are, we can do something to invite them out of their distress sequence. If they accept our invitation (this is as much as we can do – we cannot force people out of their distress sequence) they will come back to their “condominium”, where constructive and positive behaviours take place.
This is useful for whatever context in our lives: team management and motivation, personal relationships, sales and negotiations, education, project management, HR or simple social interactions.
Below is a scheme of the six personality types with their specific traits, perceptions, currencies and their strengths (which we will recognize mostly in the people who have that specific personality type as their Base) + the psychological needs (which we will recognize mostly in the people who have that specific personality type as their Phase). It might sound a bit complicated (and in a way it is, really!), but once you go through the 3 days of PCM training, everything becomes a lot clearer and very easy to apply. Continuous practice helps too 🙂 .
Using the table above, we can better understand when one of our team-members is in distress (do they exhibit some of the behaviours from the last column?). If yes, try to invite them out of stress by fulfilling their psychological needs.
I’ll give some examples, to help making this clearer. For the purpose of the exercise, and to make explanations more straightforward, I will consider that our “characters” have the same Base and Phase.
Case Study 1 – Persister Base and Phase
Let’s say my direct report Anne, who is in charge of one team with five people, starts to criticise all her team members, focusing only on what is wrong with the work they’ve done for the past month, even when most of the tasks and projects her people worked on were delivered in time and quality-wise they were well done. Maybe they were not 100% perfect, but very close to perfect. However, she manages to find all the little things that she believes could have been done better, or which somehow were not up to her standards and pushes on her beliefs that her people did not show enough dedication and they don’t care about the quality of their work. All this preaching leaves her team depleted of energy and demotivated. They feel that whatever they do it’s simply not enough for Anne.
Seeing how Anne reacts under stress, I can deduce that her Phase personality is Persister. I know from the table above that her Psychological Needs are those of Recognition of work (needs recognition for her achievements, as it indicates recognition of her dedication and strong commitment to organisational objectives/mission/etc.) and convictions (e.g. She has a strong commitment to a belief, opinion or a judgment and she needs people to listen to her belief). Because she is now in a distress sequence, I can imagine her psychological needs have not been met recently, so I will try to do that, so that she can come back to her “condominium”, and exhibit again constructive behaviours.
What can I do?
Well, firstly, I will need to be authentic, and do not lie to her while trying to cover her psychological needs. Lying could make the situation even worse, as Persisters consider trust a very important base for successful relationships.
Then I can start by complementing Anne on her care and dedication to company’s objectives and for wanting to make sure that all her people value the quality of the final result as much as her. I would tell her that, in my opinion, she already managed to instil this behaviour in her team and that I believe her people managed to actually do a great job, caring for all details and showing dedication. I would tell her that I appreciate the fact that she is a perfectionist and ask for her opinion on how she could help her people realise that she appreciates their work, while always wanting them to improve.
And then I would listen and make her feel that her opinions and convictions are important for me, while taking care to help her realise that sometimes, praising can do a lot more good to a team’s dedication levels than scolding would.
By acting as such, I made sure that Anne had her convictions and beliefs listened to, that I value her opinion and that I see her consistent dedication to the objectives of the company. And while I managed to open her up for new ideas, as I have “charged her batteries” by filling her psychological needs, I also sent across the message that she needs to be more constructive with her team and to help her see the already good results they achieved.
By doing so it does not mean that I don’t want perfection and excellent quality in regards to the delivery of the tasks and projects within my teams. Yes, I do want that, but I am also aware that stressed and demotivated teams will not be able to deliver that (or not on a longer term, anyway).
Case Study 2 – Thinker Base and Phase
Let’s say my line manager is quite stressed lately because a project we were working on with an outsourced team is now two week delayed vs. the plan and we only have now one month until the official deadline, so we would need to deliver six-week worth of work in only four.
As she has a Thinker Phase, she entered into a distress sequence and she’s starting to display the following behaviours:
- Over control (she asks for project reports every morning, and I know that those reports would take me about 45’ to 1h to construct and analyse and I’d rather spend that time supporting the outsourced team with the project.
- She is now considering taking over the lead for this project, but I know how busy her schedule is, and I know how much time it takes to follow-up with the outsourced team to give feedback on all the output of their work and how important is to be available immediately for any questions they might have. While I do appreciate my line manager’s professionalism and know how, I know she would not have the physical time and the availability to help this project move forward and successfully close in as little time as possible.
So, what can I do?
I know her two psychological needs for her Thinker Phase are Recognition of work (goal and achievement oriented) and Time structure (knowing what is to be done and when). I realise that especially her need of Time structure has been affected by this situation and thus, I choose to work on this one.
While I let her know that I appreciate her logical approaches and clear thinking on projects I propose to her the following:
- to update the project plan by the end of the day, taking into consideration the current delay
- to draw a plan on how to either increase efficiency or bring on new resources in the project to ensure on time delivery, and to seek her thoughts on it and ask for her support where I cannot find a solution on my own
- I will also outline the potential risks I can foresee and how I plan to counter them if they arise
- I will let her know when and for what I will need her support
- I will send her project status reports weekly, and in the last two weeks I will send her two reports per week
- I will ensure her I will let her know in time if anything out of ordinary happens and I think the timely deliver is at risk so we can both think, analyse and design a strategy
Like this, I would meet her need of knowing what is to be done and by when, I would use her strengths (logic, good organisation skills, etc.) she would have an updated plan to refer to and I would be there to keep her in the loop with everything that happens, with a realistic frequency, that will allow me enough time to actually focus on the project, while still keeping her in the know.
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Copyright Information: Dr. Taibi Kahler holds the copyright for The Process Communication Model® and all derivative works.