In my last column I discussed how, in a crisis, we can all slip into knee-jerk reactions. Like the reactions of the world to the Omicron variant. Clearly, we can make things a whole lot worse by reacting too soon. Some understanding of the different styles of the team members is really useful in crafting the right sort of reaction.
Here is my 10-Step Plan on how to collaborate with the different personality styles:
Step 1: Slow down or speed up the pace
Leaders need to slow down or speed up the pace, depending on your and your team's personality styles. This doesn’t mean not being proactive in coming up with solutions; it means as a leader you want to keep the pace of your team even. Many times, ‘D’-style leaders come into a crisis and want to get through it as fast as they can. They want to move quickly and be decisive. While ‘C’ or ‘S’ leaders will slow things down to analyse and plan things out. However, you have to remember it’s not the speed with which you cross the finish line; it’s the speed in which your team crosses the finish line.
What tactics are you using to keep with the pace of your team?
Step 2: Inspire others, your words matter
Years ago, someone had said to me, “Teresa, believe it or not, people really do listen to what you say and how you say it. Your tone, as much as your words, can be convincing and motivating if you choose them to be. If you say things the wrong way, or in a harsh tone, it really impacts people in a negative way. Your words have a lot more power than you might realise.”
This really made me stop and think. I had thought nobody even cared what I said, much less the way I said it. It hit me that my words and how I use them really do matter to the people around me. I work on this daily and try to make a point to give encouraging words to my team, family, or anyone I come in contact with, and it does make a difference!
Your words really do matter, so try to use them to encourage and inspire others.
What phrases do you use or what actions do you take to inspire your team?
Step 3: Trust vs control
The type of leader you are can influence your followers for good or for bad. Are you an anchor during the storm, or are you adding to the stress and anxiety of your team? Take a moment to assess how well you know your team and what they need from you as a leader, especially during times when stress is particularly high. How does your leadership style influence them in the short term? How about the long-term?
Which type of leader are you?
Step 4: Understand your team
If your team are working remotely, they might not be working as collaboratively as they do sitting near each other in the office. There, they could easily just lean over or walk down the passage to talk to one another. Understanding your team will help you be able to strategise quickly to get them collaborating well virtually, too.
Once you understand your team, how they react under stress and what they’re passionate about or what things motivate them, then you can analyse their needs.
How well do you understand and know your team?
Step 5: Analyse the needs
If you understand your team, you can analyse their needs.
Different DISC styles handle this current crisis differently:
‘D’ styles, having nothing else to do outside their home or nowhere to go, are continuing to dive into their work. They need to feel in control of something, as their greatest fear is being taken advantage of.
‘I’ styles have a fear of rejection, and they need to be in social environments. For example, our high ‘I’ teammate is working from home in his living room, with the TV on and kids running around behind him. If he didn’t have that social environment around him, he might go through withdrawal.
The ‘S’ styles are struggling the most. They have a fear of the unknown and dislike instability and change. They are used to working together in-person as a team. Having to quickly change and adapt to working from home has them feeling separated, and they’re struggling with that. To help meet the ‘S’-style needs on our team, we’ve implemented daily check-ins through video chat so they can connect with and see their teammates, and know that their team is still there for them. Also, having a set meeting time gives them some routine and stability.
‘C’ styles couldn’t be happier because they’re at home, nobody is bothering them, and they’re getting more work done. Their biggest fear is criticism. If they’re stressed, they break out their checklist and start going down it to make sure they’ve done everything they’re supposed to. Since ‘C’ styles are task-oriented, as long as they have their checklist and nobody is bothering them, they’re ok.
Do you know the needs of your team?
Step 6: Take measured actions
After you analyse the needs of your team, then you can take measured actions. I learned from experience that it’s important to take measured actions. Not everybody wants to know the five-year plan during crisis, or even the one-year plan. Many people just need to know the measured actions of “what do I need to do today?” or “what do I need to do this week?”.
Even if you have a great plan or vision as a leader, it’s important to take the appropriate measured actions for your team.
What measured actions do you need to take for your team today?
Step 7: Instruct accordingly
In order for your team to take measured actions, you must instruct them accordingly.
As a ‘D’ leader, I want to see the measured actions taking place to move my business forward. A ‘D’ leader would want to share a list of daily accomplishments so that they can see what actions are being taken, and they can then instruct accordingly.
It’s not about immediate results. It brings peace of mind seeing they are doing something tangible every day that will provide long-term results. I can relax seeing a whole list of things that are being done, which doesn’t have to be super detailed, and I am confident in knowing we’re accomplishing things each day.
What accomplishments are you making together? Have you instructed your team in a way they understand?
Step 8: Observe their progress
It’s important to observe the progress of your team. Since we’ve been working remotely and don’t see each other in the office as we did in the past, many teams now meet twice a day. This way, they can all collaborate and see each other. They can see how they are all doing and know whether anyone needs any additional instructions for their projects.
You can also see if somebody is struggling physically or emotionally, and know whether they need any help. You can all be on the same page, and observe each other's progress in a virtual manner. This will help your team to stay in communication, and you’ll be able to observe the team to see what's happening and know how to help them when they need it.
How are you observing your team’s progress?
Step 9: Navigate through the tough stretches
Moving from working together in the office to now virtually has been a challenge for many, as well as having to address the fears and unknowns that come up along the way due to the current crisis. Like a ship in a storm, as the leader, you have to navigate them through the tough stretches.
Also, working with clients, to move them from in-person to online trainings, has been a difficult transition. Some of them are not very tech savvy, nor are they used to doing online training. In-person training was all they knew. They may need assistance to help them navigate the areas that may be slowing them down.
What tough stretches are you and your team facing? In what ways are you able to navigate them through it?
Step 10: Show you care
This is the most important of the ten steps.
Just show you care. Have a heart for helping others, have empathy, be thoughtful in your words, and be transparent. Show that you're a human and vulnerable too.
How can you show your team you care today?