Sponges and Abstainers – identifying types in your team

Have you noticed a couple of behavioural types in your organisation?

  • The sponge – that person who just keeps soaking up new information and shouts “give me more!” when roles and responsibilities arise?
  • The abstainer – that person who has enough to do thank you very much and has absolutely no time to be taking on any more roles, responsibilities – or ideas for that matter?

Have you noticed how the sponges make things happen and how the abstainers come up with lists of reasons as to why things will not work “around here”?

Of course, there is also the silent majority; the people who show up, day in and day out and GTD (get things done).

Every business owner I meet will have examples of all three.

Part of my job is to identify which is which and take appropriate action to promote the sponges into positions of responsibility and create an environment in which the abstainers can continue their fruitless search for happiness elsewhere.

Team meetings are an extremely effective opportunity to identify the behavioural types – those who participate, those who contribute, those who listen and those who just sit there, looking like a bulldog that swallowed a wasp.

I’ll be visiting a new client today – and the radar will be switched on.


Published by

Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.