Using Science and Data to Build Your Teams

I’m sure we’ve all been to a company retreat where we took personality tests aimed at helping our teams work more effectively. In my experience, these usually happen after a huge team blow-out or meltdown. In fact, I’ve been to quite a few, and I always found the information enlightening. The only problem: there was rarely a lack of meaningful implementation once my team returned to the office.

Enter: data. Yes, big data is no longer just for customer and business analysis. It’s now helping business leaders map personality traits within their teams to help them work more effectively. Deloitte recently created a system called “Business Chemistry” that utilizes a mix of brain chemistry, business-relevant personality traits, and statistical models to determine four major work styles typically found in modern office environments. The system has been featured in the Harvard Business Review and has been used by nearly 200,000 people. But to what effect?

Deloitte’s four main work personality types include: The Pioneer (creativity, innovation), The Guardian (order, pragmatism), The Driver (momentum, results-driven), and The Integrator (connection, diplomacy.)  While everyone has a bit of each type, most of us lean more heavily toward one or two. And that’s where most work challenges come in.

During digital transformation, business leaders are already working hard to find their company’s place in the digital marketplace, adopt smart new technology, and determine a digital vision. Analyzing team personalities doesn’t usually make the top of the list. But in today’s business environment, where things are moving so quickly and efficient work relationships are key, it’s becoming increasingly important to focus on creating tight-knit team environments, rather than just tech-savvy ones. So, if you’re one of the many companies today hitting a roadblock when it comes to team work, Deloitte recommends the following:

Understand Your Own Bias

First and foremost, leaders need to understand their own personal working style, and how it may contribute to biases in their working environment. If you’re a Pioneer, for instance, consider how constant change with little clarity could cause stress or concern for Guardians on your team. Take time to think from each perspective when making big decisions or creating processes that might alienate or threaten other personality types. 

Mix It Up

Although we all want diverse workplaces, diverse personalities can often create friction, especially in fast-paced environments. Take time to understand the personalities of those on the teams you manage, and vary processes and incentives to ensure each group has something to lean on. As Deloitte warns, “[w]hat motivates one group can suck the life out of another.” Alienating one personality type with only create lop-sided thinking and results.

Elevate the Minority

Deloitte notes that when teams are dominated by a single personality, certain “cascades” or biases will form, creating momentum for ideas or projects that might not be the best choice. For that reason, it’s important to involve the personality types that are in the minority to find holes in arguments, flaws in thinking, and other new ways to address the issue or opportunity.

Invite the Introverts into the Discussion

Remember: the loudest voices aren’t always the ones you want to heed. Be sure to invite the more sensitive introverts into the discussion, even in a sidebar conversation if they feel more comfortable. They often have incredibly sharp insights to share that could make your project even stronger.

Know Your Company’s Challenges

Creating recognition of the importance of personality types in the workplace is not always easy. Our awareness of different styles usually goes out the window when we’re facing a huge deadline or dealing with lots of stress from above. Legacy businesses with clunky infrastructure have an especially hard time adapting to any type of change, let alone interpersonal ones. If you know that your company is change-resistant or dominated by a cultural working style, take time to change the cycle. As a leader, you can model a new way of involving—and valuing—all working styles to create even greater success.

In today’s workplace, employees are facing burnout at unprecedented rates, not just because of work but because of increasingly collaborative processes and environments. It’s not always easy to work with other people! In fact, we’re all so different it’s often a wonder we get anything done at all. As you move your company forward, be sure to consider when collaboration is necessary (or not), and where you can empower different personality types by delegating decisions and planning. Doing so will enhance the employee’s reputation, help others find value their work style, and keep things moving more smoothly overall. After all, an agile company is a winning company. When you think of each personality type as one more tool in your business arsenal, you’re able to adapt and change more effectively—especially in today’s digital transformation.

Additional Articles on This Topic:
Removing Silos in the C-Suite
Addressing Burnout: Protecting Employees for the Future

Photo Credit: Vulnerable Sync Flickr via Compfight cc

This article was first published on FOW Media.