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Behaviour is our Frenemy.

Our workplace behaviour serves as a window into our strengths and weaknesses as a leader or team member.

There are valuable strengths and positive contributions that we will all make when interacting with others. There are also countervailing weaknesses that whilst often quite the natural ‘flip-side’ to our strengths, can definitely serve to undermine our impact or effectiveness at work.

Hence the use of the word “Frenemy”, described here from Wikipedia (drawing upon Oxford and other definitions also) as …

"Frenemy" (less commonly spelled "frienemy") is a portmanteau of “friend” and “enemy” that can refer to either an enemy pretending to be a friend or someone who really is a friend but also a rival. The term is used to describe personal, geopolitical, and commercial relationships both among individuals and groups or institutions. The word has appeared in print as early as 1953.

When we understand our own behaviour and manage it well, it can serve as friend and aid to our daily execution.

When poorly understood and badly managed, it can just as easily be an enemy serving to damage important relationships and scuttle even the best plans and projects.

Whilst it is unrealistic to expect all of our behavioural weaknesses to magically depart from our workplace interactions (especially when the pressure is on), they can certainly be better managed.

In recent research sessions with our Organisational Psychologist Dr David Marriott, we have been reminded yet again of the myriad factors that influence our behaviour at work.

Dr David puts it well when he says that “people’s behaviour will make a difference to how they relate to other members of their team. There will be stress when a relationship is uncomfortable for one or both people in an interaction. Working relationships can be affected by major factors such as differences in Team Role strengths and weaknesses, specialisation differences, age and gender differences, personality differences, intellectual ability and individual motivation.”

Influences on Behaviour

The major individual difference components that influence behaviour often break down into…


From a psychological perspective each person has a unique core personality profile, which has major components that can be rated. They are generally explored as Introversion, Extroversion, Anxiety and Stability.


Critical thinking, mathematical and logical thinking ability, which affect behavior in a team.


People are motivated by the pursuit of intrinsic reward that correlates to their behavioral type. Does the person operate best short, medium or longer term? What are their strongly held beliefs?


Like personality, each person’s experiences will be as unique as a fingerprint and strongly influence their behavior from childhood onwards.


All people within a workplace will have their relationships influenced / defined to some extent by status, authority, structure and procedures.

The factors influencing behaviour are therefore many, and hard to quantify simply and effectively.

In a workplace situation each person will also have three major components to their behaviour…

1 - Their Functional Role: What they do, usually defined by their job title, qualifications and experience.

2 - Their Team Role Profile: Their preferences and ability to fulfil the 9 major behavioural clusters along a spectrum of natural, manageable and least preferred roles. The Belbin model defines and measures these well.

3 - Motivation: The need for factors such as personal power, personal achievement, organisational power, people power, independence, team support and structure to varying degrees.

A tool like Belbin can help us “cut to the chase” and better quantify the impacts of “Observed Behaviour” in real teams.

This reduces the complexity for a practical analysis of the many subtle influencing factors, and then allows us to better manage those real world interactions. Enhanced understanding also allows us to better embrace the strengths of others, and tolerate their "allowable weaknesses".

Cultivating a better and simpler understanding of our own behaviour, and that of others enables us to make a better “friend” of our workplace behaviour. By managing our weaknesses, we can also strive to see less of the “enemy” in our daily undertakings.

To quote Meredith Belbin “what is needed is not well balanced individuals, but individuals who balance well with one another.”

For more information on how to identify, manage and improve workplace behaviour visit our sites at .

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