How I’m Learning to Become a Chameleon in My Work Relationships




  • — July 1, 2019

    Think back to the last time you were frustrated by a colleague, friend or loved one because they didn’t understand you and your ideas.

    Were they over communicating, asking for meetings and calling or pinging all the time? Were they not communicating at all? Maybe it felt like this person didn’t care about the situation because of their overly exuberant sense of humor or perhaps they were being too straightforward for your liking?

    I’ve had my fair share of all of these experiences. But here’s a lesson I’ve learned while navigating through my career, one I’ve had the pleasure of relearning recently:

    We’re all unique. We work differently. Each person has their own strengths and weaknesses. And, it’s amazing.

    If you don’t know much about Metis, let me break it down for you. We’re a small, brilliant, nimble and agile team. We’re also remote-first and embrace this really well – it’s a practice enthusiastically promoted by our founder.

    But let’s face it, remote work can be challenging and not for everyone. Personalities can only manifest so much through the interweb, and when you’re not face-to-face often, you can miss out on some nuances. So while I’ve become a pro at remote life over the past three years, I’ve discovered how essential it is to understand both yourself and your team in order for this to work.

    Just a few weeks ago, our team had our annual retreat in Boston, where we get some in-person time together, have a few drinks and many laughs. Prior to our meet up, we were given a DiSC Profile Test to fill out. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical about a behavior assessment tool but excited to see what it might be able to teach us.

    Vive la dif·fé·rence

    To no one’s surprise, we have a lot of different personalities on this team. We learned each persona category has its strengths and weaknesses and gained insight on how to best work with each other.

    There were also some hard truths to consider, after all, we can all get a bit defensive when facing our flaws. However, when I looked into each person’s personality patterns, I was able to understand how and why my colleagues – and clients – take different approaches to tasks.

    Below is a breakdown of how each profile communicates, which I’ve begun to use as a guide to help me best work with each person on my team.

    D – Dominant individuals want the bottom line. If you find yourself writing a three-paragraph email about a task, stop. Need to address a challenge? Focus on solutions.

    i – Influence individuals value community, friendship and positivity. They’ll ask questions, talk to themselves to understand what’s expected of them, and might want to hear about your experience so they can better learn from you. They don’t want the minutia (it can overwhelm them).

    S – Steadiness individuals not only need to understand what’s expected of them, but also what’s valued about them. Don’t be rude or aggressive – it doesn’t help – as they’re probably the some of the calmest and most collected individuals on your team.

    C – Conscientiousness individuals don’t need the “pep” talk or want to hear about how someone “feels” like an influence individual might. Best to focus on the facts and details. They’re diplomatic, stable and reliable, and they expect to be treated this way.

    Adapt and advance

    As a next step to further comprehend the DiSC profiles, and better understand ourselves and others, we read “The Chameleon,” by Merrick Rosenberg. I can’t recommend this book enough. It included 22 fables based on each personality, providing powerful lessons on how to gain deeper awareness of yourself, as well as your team members’ actions and motivations.

    Whether it’s with clients or new team members, I can’t wait to work with more personalities in the future. Our agency is about communications and different individual styles doesn’t mean our team goals are different. It just means we’ve got more tools available for producing results. Like chameleons, we adapt individually and blend into a unified environment where we all flourish.

    So here’s to embracing ourselves – and others.

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    Author: Mel Rubbelke

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