HR & Management

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Utilise your team players: The secret behind friendly employees

5 Mins

Affiliation-driven people are perfect to create a positive and friendly team environment at work. Alongside their power or achievement-driven colleagues, they offer up a unique set of behaviours which can contribute to creating a successful and thriving business.

This trio of primary motives or drives were defined by Harvard psychologist David McLelland, and can give a crucial understanding into different workplace behaviours and what motivates individual members of staff.

Here we take a closer look at the nicer affiliation-driven members of the team, delving into what drives them, plus uncovering their less attractive secret downsides.

To spot an affiliation-driven employee, you only need to look for Mr or Mrs Popular. Affiliation-driven people are often the social centre of the office workplace, as they are great with people and creating a sense of team cohesion and harmony. They are driven by a need to be popular and liked by others, as their primary motive is to receive approval in interpersonal relationships.

This makes them great team members as they place high importance on being a friendly and supportive colleague. They are so focussed on a sense of belonging and pleasing others that they will often sacrifice their own recognition for the good of the team, placing them worlds apart from their power or achievement-driven counterparts.

Their team-player attitude and drive to be popular makes them the perfect staff members to organise staff birthdays, office parties and team events.

This drive to be popular and well liked is counterbalanced by an equal need to not be unpopular or disliked, which can lead to problems when they are required to confront or manage a difficult situation.

When an affiliation-driven person is in a middle-management position, this can cause miscommunication issues as they may try to avoid announcing difficult messages to their staff, and even pass blame onto senior management to retain their popularity status.

This can cause a lack of clarity within an organisation, and it is much more prevalent than you may think! If you anticipate a hostile meeting or difficult situation, it is best to send in a power or achievement-driven person to receive the desired results.

Equally, their need to not be disliked means they could be the weaker party in a negotiation situation, and may give into the other person’s point of view more easily than others.

Remember, affiliation-driven people live to please, and are not motivated by winning the best results. They will often agree to things that they don’t actually agree with, and feel a sense of achievement through being a warm and likeable person instead.

This people-pleasing behaviour is something managers need to look out for, as affiliation-driven staff members can often just agree to or say anything to appease others, when in reality they have serious doubts or no intention of carrying out the said duties.

To manage these unique team members effectively, it is important to understand their primary need to feel a sense of involvement. This means that they need other people to function effectively, and should be involved in team projects rather than allocated work that needs a lot of time spent alone.

In addition, you need to be aware of their serious dislike of conflict or confrontation, which makes them great in supportive roles, but less effective in leadership positions. Although they have fantastic qualities that are essential for a positive work environment, even the nicest people have their downsides…

Karen Meager and John McLachlan are the co-founders of Monkey Puzzle Training, two of only a handful of NLP master trainers in the UK and co-authors to Time Mastery; a number one best-selling book, and Real Leaders for the Real World; an IBA finalist.

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