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Helping U.S. Navy Teams Find Synergy

Helping U.S. Navy Teams Find Synergy

It’s always interesting to us to know the story of where some of our assessments came from, and we wanted to share the FIRO-B assessment backstory because it’s one of the most fascinating histories we’ve heard.

In the 1950’s, the United States Navy approached psychologist William Schutz and said, “We’re having a really hard time with teams on submarines. We don’t know how to put people together, and you can imagine being underwater in close quarters for six months can be a trying environment. We want to know how to effectively put teams together so there’s synergy and productivity. This can be a really stressful environment, and we need to make sure these teams won’t implode when things get heated.”

So Schutz when to work on the research and what he came up with was a version of the FIRO-B. Essentially he said in any interpersonal relationships we have three needs: the need for control, the need for inclusion, and the need for affection. But we also have one of these needs that we try to fulfill first, because it’s the most important to us. So these three needs are either expressed externally by people, or wanted internally. The way Schutz looks at this was if one person expressed that need, and another person wanted that need, then both people can easily work together because both are having their greatest needs met.

In another case if someone is expressing a need and no one wants it (or vice versa) then it would make sense that someone in that team is going to be pretty frustrated.

The first need is inclusion. One of the things we’re seeing in the workplace with the increase of virtual employees and global organizations that have people that are connecting from all parts of the world is the question of “how do we know how much to include people, or how much people want to be included?” So the question we should be asking is “how much do you want to be included?” What level of inclusion is welcomed by people and what level starts to feel intrusive?

Like what you’ve read? Check out one of our recent webinars: Linking Employee Productivity and Interpersonal Needs.

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