The first in our Work Personality series, this piece covers the Teddy Bear.
Teddy Bears are soft and dependable, always there to listen and support. They do what they are asked and show little personal initiative. They do not question those in authority but respect superior status and admire firmness and decisiveness.
Treat them well or badly, they will continue to support you to the end.
“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it. And then he feels that perhaps there isn’t.”
But be careful – their unstinting admiration may lead you to think that you really are a god and can do no wrong.
If you ask for their views, they will support whatever they think you want to hear:
“What do you say, Pooh?”
Pooh opened his eyes with a jerk and said, “Extremely.”
“Extremely what?” asked Rabbit.
“What you were saying,” said Pooh. “Undoubtedly.”
The Teddy Bear will prefer to keep a relatively low-key profile. He is likely to be supportive of everyone he works with but may rarely give firm direction. He depends on the support of the group so he may compromise his own views to ensure their continued approval. He is trusting and expects the best of others, always ready to drop what he is doing to give others help and support. He underrates his own ability and value to the organization may be over optimistic, at times, in his assessment of people overestimating their capabilities and giving loyalty and support which may not be reciprocated. He may feel frustrated but rarely express impatience.
“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.’ said Pooh.”
He tends to downplay catastrophes but may suggest little in the way of positive action to deal with them.
“Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?’
‘Supposing it didn’t,’ said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.”
If he manages others, he may not monitor them closely and could find himself having to pick up the pieces at times, but he does not seek to blame them for this.
The impact of a Teddy Bear’s Work Personality may not be felt until he has left the organization. Suddenly the Tiger boss may find that his papers go missing, that he overlooks appointments or that people he has antagonized have not been talked round and agreed to give him another chance.
In summary, the Teddy Bear Work Personality is:
But can also be:
To get the best out of the Teddy Bear, he needs a structured environment where there are clear rules and guidelines. He needs to be given assignments that he knows are well within his capability and where he does not have to make important decisions on his own initiative. He is likely to be a dependable and reliable Number 2 and prefers to stay well within his comfort zone – not one for facing challenging situations or driving the business forward.
Give positive encouragement telling him when he has done a good job. If you are dissatisfied with his performance, tell him gently, focusing on the behaviors not on his personal qualities and in private not in front of his colleagues.
Watch out for unknowingly upsetting him – you may never know why he suddenly decided to leave and left you bereft of all that comfort, warmth and support.
Have you worked with a Teddy Bear? Do you know where the Teddy Bears are in your organization?