By: Zach Montroy
The beauty of working on a team is that each member of the team processes information differently and brings with them a unique perspective and style. While this diversity can make for a healthy, well-rounded team, as a leader it can also sometimes feel like you’re herding cats. The root cause of tension and conflict that teams experience can often be traced back to personality differences, and this can be exacerbated when those team members are working together remotely.
At the core of our human nature is the need to be understood. We want for the people around us to not just hear what we’re saying but to deeply understand where we’re coming from—our core beliefs and values, how we like to communicate, where we get our energy and how we best receive praise and appreciation. This deeper understanding often comes from spending quality time with people.
Studies show companies that are intentional with building skills like self-awareness, better communication strategies, and effective conflict management are not only more engaged workplaces but are also largely more profitable. For remote teams, it can be easy to neglect this quality time when you’re focused on the work to be done and not physically surrounded by the people you’re working with. Creating this quality time has to be a conscious effort by the leadership, but it’s an effort worth making.
Forget the Golden Rule
You know the Golden Rule: “Treat others how you wish to be treated.” That’s great, in theory, by it’s not always the best approach when working on a team. While some team members may lean toward being logical, objective and results-oriented, others are more people-focused, dynamic and collaborative. People tend to work together and communicate differently. Accepting these differences and learning how to treat others the way they wish to be treated is crucial for building a successful team.
There are four basic behavioral styles that make up each member of a team:
The Supporter — This is the person who gets energy from collaboration. They always take the team into consideration and make a concerted effort to understand the other members of the team. The Supporter loves to be counted on and sees their contribution as being a key supporting member of the team. They value a harmonious environment and are stressed by conflict.
The Dominator — This person wants results. They have a “take the bull by the horns” approach to leadership. Everything in life is a competition and they want to win. The Dominator tends to prioritize the big picture and wants to see tangible outcomes. They love being in charge and are stressed in a chaotic environment if it’s something they can’t control or isn’t the producing results they want to see.
The Conscientious Perfectionist — This person strives for perfection. They plan, prepare and take into account all angles in order to develop a perfect strategy for the win. The Conscientious Perfectionist wants to be right and finds value in how often their idea or strategy wins. They are stressed when they miss the mark and when they are experiencing too much collaboration or interaction with others.
The Influencer — For this person, it’s all about the relationship, connecting with others, and moving forward. They always see the bright side and want to “wow” others. The Influencer does not see the value in perfection but in movement. They tend to have grandiose ideas and although some may never be executed, it’s all about the opportunity (and talking about it with others). They are stressed by too much alone time and not being able to exercise their gift of influencing others.
What’s Your Style?
It’s important to understand yourself first — what brings you life and energy and what does not. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
What do you prioritize?
Where do you get your energy?
Are you action-oriented or do you prefer a stable environment?
Are you results-focused or do you get your energy from being a support to the team?
Do you challenge others or do you prefer to collaborate?
What are your motivators and your stressors?
What’s Your Team’s Style?
As a leader of a remote team, the next step is to understand the members of your team. This deeper understanding will help your team appreciate diversity, deal with and reduce conflict, improve communication skills, foster healthy debate, enhance teamwork, increase sales skills by understanding how customers make buying decisions and reduce turnover.
Some people on your team need more human interaction and collaboration than others. Understanding and learning to appreciate the different styles of your team members will, in the long run, will make you a more effective team and a more profitable company. You will spend less time on the unnecessary spinning of your wheels when you’re able to gain the traction needed to move you forward, together.
Consider making an investment in your team by helping them understand their own individual behavioral style as well as the styles of their team members. This understanding will help your remote team learn how to work together more effectively and create an action plan moving forward.
Zach Montroy serves as the Vice President of People, Team and Organizational Strategy at Navigate the Journey. He began his career in public relations and has since held a variety of executive leadership positions over the last 17 years. Zach is passionate about helping organizations deliver tactical solutions in people strategy, organizational change, strategic planning and business process improvement. Zach holds a MBA in strategic management and leadership and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) with specialized experience in coaching remote teams. In all his work, Zach seeks to provide enduring value to organizations by coaching leaders to understand and live out their unique gifts, strengths, talents and passions in an emotionally healthy, authentic, results-oriented way. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.