Working from home, at the office or hybrid working? The pandemic has changed how, where and when we work – and it has changed how we interact with our colleagues.
We experience stressors due to our natural personality differences when we interact with others. Knowing your natural style will help you relate to your colleagues in this new environment.
Some years ago, I was part of a team working on a leadership programme in a large IT company. I have the Synthesiser style and one of my colleagues was a Mobiliser. At one meeting, we had a major clash. I wanted us to design a world class leadership programme, (ie get the “best result possible”) while she wanted to ensure we met the deadline (ie get “an achievable result”). She felt it would take too much time to get the highest quality outcome and we would miss the deadline, while I felt her desire to rush ahead would be a missed opportunity to offer something of real value. We fell out badly. I’m convinced that if we had understood our respective Styles and drives, we would have found ways to manage our conflict more constructively and probably got a better outcome for the organisation too.
Each of the four Interaction Styles has specific things to achieve when communicating with others and specific things that cause stress.
The four Styles are:
The NAVIGATOR, who likes to think things through and plan to avoid risk. They get stressed when they don’t know what’s going to happen.
- Hybrid working makes it more difficult to plan, monitor progress and adjust the plan – it’s harder to keep in touch with people to get their updates and agree changes.
The MOBILISER, who likes to make quick decisions and galvanise others to action. They get stressed when things are not being accomplished.
- Getting things done and making decisions with other people, is likely to take longer, be more complicated and more frustrating when people are not available in the office.
The ENERGISER, who likes to pull people together and get them to collaborate for buy-in. They get stressed when other people don’t want to participate, or when they can’t get involved themselves.
- Getting involvement from others is likely to be more difficult, with some people working remotely or working different hours. Energisers may feel “out of sight, out of mind”.
The SYNTHESISER, who likes to gather lots of information and consult others. They get stressed when they don’t have enough input or enough time to get the best possible result.
- Finding opportunities to share ideas and gather input may difficult if people are working from different locations and at different times of day.
What are your personality style stressors? And what can you and your colleagues do to help each other adapt to hybrid working?
Here’s how to help yourself and your colleagues:
|Style||Stressor||They may become…||How you can help them||How you can help yourself|
|Not knowing what’s going to happen||Tense and distant.||Establish ground rules for reporting progress.
Agree fixed points for reviewing and making changes.
|Speak up at the right time.
Ask for what you need.
Find ways to relax and get time to yourself.
|Nothing being accomplished||Impatient and demanding.||Keep virtual meetings short and specific eg to make a decision.
Clarify who is going to do what by when.
|Let other people take responsibility sometimes.
Use mindfulness techniques.
Slow down and make time to chat.
|Not being involved or others not participating||Unfocused and frantic.||Create opportunities for team conversations and water-cooler chats – even virtual ones.
Schedule times to be in the office.
|Don’t expect as much enthusiasm from others.
Find someone to act as a buddy.
Calm down and listen to others.
|Not having enough input, or time to get the best result||Indecisive and unassertive||Help them find opportunities to consult others.
Give them a slot in meetings to say what they need.
|Recognise that “good enough” is ok.
Reduce explanation and summarise key points.
Be more expressive in voice and gestures.
Being aware of your own style – how you come across to other people, what drives your behaviour and what stresses you – can be an enormous help in adapting to life back in the office and hybrid working. See How to Get On with Anyone to discover more about yourself and your colleagues!