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Contrasting skills, personalities and attitudes are vital for the essential mix that healthy organisations need. Thinking about the requirements of the roles within your team or organisation in somewhat simple terms can help you arrange and marshal your resources in the numbers needed, where needed – just as a general organises their forces for the campaign ahead.

I have helped motor manufacturers and showrooms train and develop their sales teams for some 20 years now. In that time, a selection of industry ‘types’ has evolved that describe the differing personalities within that retail environment.

However, it strikes me that they also apply across other sectors and that if talent leaders can get the balance right, they will have created a formidable mix that can drive their commercial objectives.  

There are a number of types that most teams will benefit from incorporating into their ranks:  

‘Hunters’ are aggressive, dynamic, confident achievers who score quick, multiple wins then readily move on to the next ‘kill’. They might be high volume salespeople; customer advisers; delivery people; health professionals; or in IT support, but the nature of their role demands quick results, a new target always on the horizon and an insatiable appetite for the fray and new ‘trophies’.

These people may lose a few ‘prey’ but they don’t care, because another quarry will be in their sights, soon.

‘Farmers’ are longer-term players, who nurture high value sales prospects; are involved in lengthier projects that require much planning and methodical process to an end result; or work in research or other speculative exercises.

Their targets might be less defined and their achievements less measurable, as there is often no clear end point to their endeavours.

While the debate goes on in some sectors, such as sales, about which is the best persona, the fact of the matter is that having the right combination of the two will actively grow business and retain clients. And a breakdown needn’t be confined to these types, because there are a number of others.

For example, the ‘foot soldier’ who seeks security, predictability and stability. These individuals don’t like surprises and are not over-fond of being challenged – preferring a stable, well-established role, with clearly demarcated responsibilities, set routines and a signposted career path. They respond best to clear instructions and prefer managers to resolve obstacles and issues, rather than overcoming them proactively.

Solid, highly reliable, loyal and unimaginative, they are very happy in their comfort zone and the idea of stepping outside the box, let alone living outside it, fills them with dread. Effective communication motivates them best.

Then there are the ‘trappers’. Brash, confident, slick, outgoing, they are all about attracting and luring targets and are ideally suited for roles where an easy charm and establishing a quick rapport are vital, such as shop floor retail or customer relations.

The inventive and IT-savvy trapper has embraced all the latest digital aids that will support their particular role. Invariably, they are also well-versed in the power of SEO, social media, YouTube videos and other potent content platforms. They also tend to be highly literate and can readily generate various forms of social collateral, such as testimonials and case studies.

‘Rainmakers’ are also highly sophisticated, tech-aware players. While they may also be found in the sort of roles where trappers thrive, they are invariably further along their career path and have achieved seniority.  

They have a knack of making professional connections personal in today’s ultra-connected but often distant business ecosystem. With a web of tradable strategically-built relationships, they give best value to an organisation in senior roles.

Their contacts will span the marketplace and are likely to include key influencers; current, past and target clients; as well as their peers within their own organisation and across complementary ones in the sector. They tend to make their connections by piggy-backing existing ones, relying on a mutual acquaintance to make a warm introduction – a personal endorsement that automatically puts them ahead of the competition.

Certain sectors, such as advertising, design and social media providers need a constant pipeline of ‘pioneers’ – whizzy, dynamic creatives, fizzing with ideas that don’t necessarily always have an immediate application.  

However, even less colourful, more ‘mainstream’ organisations invariably benefit from having a few innovators and future gazers in their ranks, who can anticipate opportunities and threats – and devise ways of achieving commercial advantage in ever more competitive markets. 

The pioneer doesn’t so much think outside the box but operates as if they are unaware even of its existence. Beyond marketing departments and creative industries, most teams probably don’t need an abundance of them, but they can inspire and galvanise others, lighting vital sparks in colleagues.

Finding that golden ratio, which sees the right numbers of people exactly where they should be, is both a challenge and opportunity for talent leaders. It presents the chance to assemble a winning team, where each player is in position to perform to their individual strengths and give best value to the squad.

There is no magic formula for achieving this and obviously, this profiling is broad brush strokes. Individuals are nuanced and complicated and they do change and develop, while every team/organisation is also different and will need to continually review and adjust the balance to meet the changing needs of their business and markets.

Rob Purfield, Owner and Founder of Rob Purfield Associates

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