training resource v2
TMS Research

Research insights by Dr Dick McCann

Education & Retail: An industry case study in differences

The Institute of Team Management Studies has completed a major study looking at work preferences across a worldwide sample of over 519,000. This sample encompassed data from 202 countries, 81 industries, and 295 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 25,573 people working in Education with a sample of 14,769 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. 

Major role preference distribution for worldwide industry sample: Education (n=25,573)
Figure 1. Major role preference distribution for worldwide industry sample: Education (n=25,573) 
Major role preference distribution for worldwide industry sample: Retail (n=14,769)
Figure 2. Major role preference distribution for worldwide industry sample: Retail (n=14,769) 

In Education, 7% 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 24% for Education). The total worldwide sample showed a distribution of 28% 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 © Dr Dick McCann, Team Management Systems. All rights reserved.