The Riemann-Thomann model on the four main behavioral preferences of humans is a tool that I like using with individuals as well as teams in order to help them figure out and understand differences, difficult situations, recurring conflicts, etc…
I tend to use any kind of analytical tool with care, as there is no ‘one-size’ fits all when it comes to people, and particularly the ones that use pre-written text blocks tend to irritate when they don’t fit perfectly, which they, in most cases, do not. With the Riemann-Thomann chart however, I have found that, first of all, it is very straight forward to take, involving a reasonably low number of questions to get a result that, in most cases, suits the participant, without using prescriptive text blocks, and, second of all, helps my customers understand behavioral patterns better that previously caused them discomfort and stress.
The model is based on the assumption that all humans have some level of behavioral preference in them that can be categorized between the poles of two dimensions. The poles are constancy and change, as well as closeness and distance, or aloofness. The dimensions move between the pole of constancy and change, and closeness and distance, respectively, and can be visualized as shown in the graph. While each human has all these preferences within them, they tend to express them in different ways and at different levels.
The model helps individuals and teams to be more aware of their potential needs behind their behaviour, in order to make better sense of situations that may cause them distress and identify conflict potential.
What can a need for constancy mean?
The preference for constancy is related to a need for structure, for organization, for security and the need to plan the future. It is also related to a need for reliability and trust in existing structures. Change tends to be particularly difficult for individuals with a strong need for constancy and can lead to feelings of insecurity.
Particular strengths within this preference are a focus on accuracy, persistence and the ability to create clear structures. When confronted with stressful situations, this behavioral tendency can lead to others perceiving inflexibility, stubbornness and a heightened attention to detail.
What can a need for change mean?
A preference for change is often related to a need for flexibility, a need for new challenges and for variety. It is often exemplified by working on many different projects at once, liking being ‘in the middle of things’, being spontaneous and at the hub of activity in a group. Routines and fixed structures can be difficult to tolerate with these behavioral tendencies, potentially leading to feelings of boredom and being stuck.
Particular strengths within this preference are a focus on innovative solutions, visionary ideas and an ability to deal with change flexibly and in a positive manner. When confronted with stressful situations, this behavioral tendency can lead to others perceiving what they deem to be chaotic behavior, careless decisions or superficial judgments.
What can a need for closeness mean?
A preference for human closeness is related to a need for feeling togetherness, others’ company, being part of a community. This is a basic need for all human beings, and is connected to our need to belong. It is also related to a need for harmony, trust and open communication in groups.
Particular strengths within this preference are a focus on the quality of human connections within a group, a sensibility for the team spirit, and a strong willingness to help others. When confronted with stressful situations, this behavioral tendency can lead to others perceiving intrusiveness, sentimentality and unwanted advice.
What can a need for distance mean?
A preference for distance, the ability to be aloof, is related to a need for independence, autonomy and freedom to make one’s own decisions. Others tend to perceive this type of behavior as highly self-confident, decisive and strong.
Particular strengths of this behavioral preferences are a focus on respecting individual differences, the importance of self-actualization and critical thinking. When confronted with stressful situations, this behavioral tendency can lead to others perceiving intolerance, as well as lack of sociability and concern for the group.
How can business coaching and business training help using the Riemann-Thomann model?
Teams are at their best when they represent a mixture, a diversity of all types of people, and so too, all behavioral preferences. This diversity brings with it enormous benefits in terms of the quality of the performance of the team, the ideas coming out of it and the ability to deal with diverse challenges. The mix can also lead to different behavioural preferences and the respective needs behind them clashing with each other, leading to conflict. In business coaching and team development training, we can analyse the team make-up and bring these differences to the fore, making them easier for all to understand, and therefore, to deal with.
I hope this has given you an insight into where you team stands and some pointers as to where and when understanding the make-up of the team can be helpful to you, as a leader, and, particularly your team members.
If you need any further support in terms of business coaching and business training for yourself as a leader or your team, to improve your leadership skills and teamwork in your team, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.