What Cheeses Me Off?


Better understanding of self and others for team effectiveness.

Like most Australians of my generation I enjoyed watching the classic TV show “Hey Hey It’s Saturday” on a Saturday evening.

In particular I always found Daryl Summers “What Cheeses Me Off?” segments to be a good laugh, but also quite a nice window into what made other people tick.

To refresh the memory a little, and for those non-Aussies (or Aussies who were living under a rock in the 80’s and 90’s) the “What Cheeses Me Off?” segment allowed people to write in or email in the things that bugged them most.

Gets me thinking about how each of Belbin’s 9 Team Role types would respond to their own workplace interactions in terms of things that “Cheese Them Off”.

We all have things that press our hot buttons from time to time, and the Team Role Language is a very succinct way of describing these in a non-threatening way.

To better manage yourself and others (especially when working together under pressure) it pays to truly understand not just what “Cheeses You Off”, but also the things that may press the hot buttons of others.

The examples listed below for each Team Role can serve to trigger a threat response in the primitive limbic system of the human brain.

What follows is an emotional and not always useful response that can lead to conflict or withdrawal of their Team Role contribution (the amygdala moment of fight or flight). This in turn leads to wasted human capital, gaps in decision-making and worse cognitive bias within teams.

So do any of these things ring a bell for you as an example of one of these Team Roles, or indeed as a result of seeing another person in action when they have been triggered?

Things that can Cheese Off a PLANT:

For the creative and often unorthodox PL try to avoid…

  • Unnecessarily forcing them to conform to too many rules and boundaries.

  • Criticizing or shooting holes too quickly into their ideas that may have no immediate application and may lead them to even better ideas.

Things that can Cheese Off a RESOURCE INVESTIGATOR:

For the outgoing, chatty and exploring RI try not to…

  • Press them for too much detail when it’s not required.

  • Throw too much cold water on their enthusiasm when they off “chasing shiny things”.

Things that can Cheese Off a CO ORDINATOR:

For the calm and consensus seeking CO seeking to manage the overall objective try not to…

  • Undermine them with private side deals once a course is agreed to or engage in petty private conflicts.

  • Promote any hidden or under the table agendas.

Things that can Cheese Off a SHAPER:

For the dynamic, competitive and energetic Shaper try not to…

  • Press their hot buttons without good reason when they are on the warpath with their anxious sense of urgency.

  • Clash with them by “unnecessarily” contradicting them when in Shaper mode.

Things that can Cheese Off a MONITOR EVALUATOR:

For the analytical, discriminating and risk assessing ME try not to…

  • Sell them the bells and whistles when they want the cold hard facts.

  • Overrule them and ignore their concerns with enthusiasm and collective pressure when telling things you may not all want to hear.

  • Demand a snap decision from them.

Things that can Cheese Off a TEAMWORKER:

For the mild, empathetic and harmony seeking TW (who may not even demonstrate that they are Cheesed Off) try not to…

  • Take their mild nature for granted in decision-making and simply assume that they agree with everything.

  • Force them into making personal decisions or having “hot” / difficult conversations without good reason.

Things that can Cheese Off an IMPLEMENTER:

For the well-organised, practical and hard working IMP try not to…

  • Use them as a sounding board for wild and untested new ideas.

  • Fail to provide clear information or explain things in a haphazard and ill-thought out manner.

Things that can Cheese Off a COMPLETER FINISHER:

For the anxious and perfectionist CF with an eye for the details try not to…

  • Overload them with so much work that the high standards they seek are impossible for them to attain.

  • Set unrealistic deadlines that force them to rush, miss things or fall short of their high standards.

Things that can Cheese Off a SPECIALIST:

For the professionally dedicated subject matter expert SP try not to…

  • Involve them in unnecessarily unstructured discussion outside of the field that they know and love.

  • Undervalue or dismiss their hard earned expertise.

  • Neglect them if not mixing readily with others in a cross-functional team.

In summary try to understand the behavioural triggers that you may unwittingly be putting out there that may limit or shut down the contributions of others.

Also try to let others know how to get the best out of you.

Use the nice and neutral Team Role Language that Belbin provides to respectfully remind others occasionally that “this is what Cheeses Me Off”?

Teams work far better when we actually seek to understand one another.

Check out our sites at www.TeamRolesAustralia.com.au for more insights into how to use Belbin for team and leadership development.

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