What could you do with team social styles and personality type diagnostics?

I am sure if you are really honest with yourself, you will have at some point in your career been guilty of dreading or even pulled out of a team development/management training last minute.  As busy leaders it’s so easy to get task and project focused and see the ‘fluffy stuff’ such as team engagement, personnel and talent development as the ‘nice to have’ element of your role. 

I put to you though that this is a bit of a ‘busy fool’ syndrome and challenge you to redirect your efforts to managing ‘people not projects’.  After all, that code won’t write itself, the network won’t install itself, your product won’t spring legs and run down to your prospects and convince them to buy it.  It’s people and teams we are managing – with all of their backgrounds, previous experiences, emotions, needs and values that they come with.  And, news flash, they don’t manage themselves no matter what they tell you or how experienced or autonomous they are. 

After I was introduced to the social styles model many years ago I knew I had been gifted a vital component to running an effective team.  I felt this was key to my ability to move the team on to their norming and performing stages, enabling me to take a more strategic and people focussed, less hands on, role – an element of every leader’s ambition (or should be in my view).

It’s a simple model, and there are many variations out there but this is my favourite.  In my experience I have found it the most accessible and self-explanatory and the extended models that come out of it covering communication styles, conflict, stress patterns and so on are endlessly useful.

The concept is that there are four default personality types – Driver, Expressive, Amiable, Analytical – and for each of these you can set a series of general traits which tend to map and explain the behaviour of the individuals categorised in each. It maps communication preferences, how each style deals with conflict, how they learn best, what motives and demotivates and what to manage in themselves when interacting with the other styles. 

Health warning – it’s a big generalisation at times but still incredibly useful with long lasting impact.  Going down the Myers Briggs (or similar) route gives you more granular detail but can be expensive, complicated and less transferable as information overload leaves people only able to remember their own letters and not anyone else’s.  Although these have their place too.

When experienced with the whole team, this model creates a common language and baseline understanding of each other that facilitates team development.  I have seen it create short cuts for team members to help each other understand where they are coming from.  I have witnessed first-hand how it enables team mates to notice when a colleague is under stress before they notice themselves and do something about it.  Interview processes are transformed as you map out the gaps you have in your team and use the model to select the right candidate fit based on styles as well as skills.  I’ve used it to tailor rewards (we don’t all like the same things so why try and motivate me the same as the other 20 people in the team?).  The respect that develops in people for different values and styles which previously caused conflict is extremely powerful and watching a team work out how best to arrange themselves to be greater as a sum of their parts is incredibly impressive. 

I could go on….and I will, all month actually.

I am spending this month exploring all of the styles, how to spot these styles in your team, my experiences of working with each style and what happens to these team members under stress.  The possible applications are endless and this will barely touch the surface of what you can do with the model, but I hope it will give you a taste of what is possible.

So, stay tuned to my Linked In feed this month and if you would like to discuss how you could activate with your teams with the support of my team coaching partnership Dynamic Connections, please do get in touch.

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