Charles Margerison and Dick McCann developed one of the leading tools to help managers with team performance.
When you want your team to perform well, there are two approaches you can take:
- Manage them well
- Select them for a good balance
There are tools available for each, though there are fewer to help with selecting a balanced team. Of those there are, without a doubt, Meredith Belbin‘s Team Roles is the best known by far.
But it is not the only game in town. You might choose it for its simplicity. But for sophistication, let’s look at the work of Charles Margerison and Dick McCann.
Charles Margerison grew up in the 1940s in the UK. He studied economics at the University of London School of Economics, securing a BSc. He remained to research a PhD in educational psychology. In 1967, he moved to Bradford University, and in 1971 was awarded his second PhD, in social science.
Some time after this, he moved to Australia, and joined the staff of University of Queensland. He was Professor of Management from 1982 to 1989.
From 1982, he worked with Dick McCann to research team management. And, in 1985, they co-founded Team Management Systems. He remains a part of the business, as well as being a director and President of Amazing People Worldwide.
Charles Margerison has written many books, including one with Dick McCann.
Dick McCann also grew up in the 1940s, but in Australia. From 1961-5, he studied for a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering, at the University of Queensland. He followed this with a PhD. In 1969, he moved to England, to work for BP Chemicals. There, he worked as a research engineer, and also trained as a certified accountant.
In 1974, he returned to Australia, to become a research fellow at the University of Sydney. In 1982, he started his collaboration with Charles Margerison.
In 1985, Dick McCann became the Managing Director of Team Management Systems in Australia. At the same time, his co-founder focused on European and US expansion.
Dick McCann stepped down from his director role in 2015, but remains involved in research. He is author of four books. They include Team Management: Practical New Approaches, which he co-wrote with Margerison.
Margerison and McCann’s Contribution
Margerison and McCann have developed a fair number of interconnecting models. There is too much to attempt to describe them here. They include work on:
- Workplace values
- Influencing skills
- Opportunities and Obstacles
We’ll focus on their most widely used model, the Margerison-McCann Team Management Wheel. But before we can get to it, we must first understand the work that underpins it: the Margerison-McCann Types of Work Wheel.
Types of Work
Margerison and McCann interviewed with over 300 managers. They wanted to find what made a difference between good and poor performance.
When they assessed the team members’ activities, their data fell into eight work functions. They describe them as:
Gathering and reporting information
Creating and experimenting with ideas
Exploring and presenting opportunities
Assessing and testing the applicability of new approaches
Establishing and implementing ways of making things work
Concluding and delivering outputs
Controlling and auditing the working of systems
Upholding and safeguarding standards and processes
From their work, they suggest that different jobs have different critical functions. These need people with the right skills and competencies, to perform them well.
Margerison and McCann present these types of work in a trade-marked Types of Work Wheel, which we present here with a link back to the TMS website.
Critical Work Functions
Let’s compare two examples that they offer. For each, they give three ‘critical work functions’. These make the difference between good and poor job performance.
Finance and Accounting
The critical work work functions are: Organizing, Producing and Inspecting.
The critical work functions are Advising, Innovating and Developing.
From here, it isn’t hard to see how Margerison and McCann relate their work functions to individuals’ work preferences.
This creates their concept of ‘role preferences’. These are the roles in a team that people are most likely to enjoy. When people’s critical work functions match their work preferences, they are likely to:
- be happier in their job
- perform better
Team Role Preferences
The role preferences are:
Supportive. Enjoys collecting and sharing information. Knowledgeable and flexible.
Imaginative, creative, and able to embrace complexity and uncertainty. Enjoys researching new ideas.
Enjoys exploring possibilities, looking for new opportunities, and then selling them to colleagues. Persuasive, fast thinking, and easily bored.
Analytical and objective. Enjoys ideas, developing and testing new opportunities, and making them work.
Highly results-focused, Likes to set up systems, push forward and see results. Analytical, but quick to make decisions.
Highly practical. Enjoys systematic planning and work processes. Takes pride in efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of outputs.
Enjoys focusing on and controlling the detailed aspects of their work. Good at checking and enforcing standards, but less skilled with informal influencing.
Likes to uphold standards and values. Can be conservative in the face of change, but has a strong sense of purpose.
How Margerison and McCan Identified their Role Preferences
Margerison and McCann worked with four measures related to how people approached work. They were strongly influenced in the choices by Carl Jung’s psychological types. So you’ll see a strong relationship to the work of Isabel Briggs-Myers and Katharine Briggs.
Margerison and McCann’s measures are:
- How people prefer to relate with others
- How people prefer to gather and use information
- How people prefer to make decisions
- How people prefer to organize themselves and others
These measures lead to RIDO scales (Relationships, Information, Decisions, Organization). And the scales showed a strong relationship to the Types of Work.
Like the Types of Work Wheel, they present their team role preferences as a Team Management Wheel. Again, we present this trademarked model with a link to the TMS website.
The Linker Role
At the centre of the wheel is the ‘Linker’ role. Every jobholder needs this role to be successful in their job. It involves integrating and co-ordinating other people’s work. This is both within the team, and with external players.
This role is particularly important for the team leader, as you’d expect.
Linking comprises thirteen skills:
- six people skills
- five task skills
- for the team leader, two leadership skills
These, however, are the subject of a whole other model, the Linking Leader Model.