The Knightsbridge Vital Teams™ process helps team members understand their styles and needs and the impact they have on team dynamics. We use the Birkman Method® as our tool in this process. This is the sixth in a series where I’ll help you look in the mirror using some of the insights that come through the Birkman®. But don’t worry; you’ll get the benefit even if you haven’t used the tool.
How Fast Do You Like to Go?
Are you the type of person who goes full tilt all the time? Do you get fidgety in meetings when you’re trapped without being able to get anything done? Is your idea of a great holiday a trip to an exotic locale to run a marathon? Or are you the type of person who likes to channel your energy into ideas and plans? A perfect vacation for you allows you to ease into the day and take lots of time to smell the roses? The fundamental difference between people whose default is physical activity and those who tend to mental activity can cause serious disconnects on your team.
I know that my go, go go style is a bit harried for some people’s liking. Take yesterday, where after a full day of work, my husband and I went for a run between my 5:30 and 7:00 conference calls. Then we picked up the kids from dancing, had dinner, and I left the house at 9:00pm for book club. That pace works for me, but for some it would leave them craving time to think and reflect.
How do you use your energy? Do you schedule meeting after meeting after meeting? Do you run from one task to the next (figuratively or literally). Are you in top gear all the time because if you’re not, you don’t feel like you’re accomplishing anything? Or do you like to have a break in between activities so you can process things and make your actions more deliberate?
Look at the top section of the table and see if you recognize your behavior as more physically or mentally active. Think about how your style impacts your ability to work with others, your ability to make meaningful progress, and your overall brand as either a tortoise or a hare.
It is important that you are aware of your own activity levels. If you are too frenetic, you risk wearing people out, sometimes in service of busy work that isn’t well thought out and ultimately doesn’t get you anywhere. If you’re too passive, you might be seen as all talk and no action. As with any personal style, there are advantages to being able to flex to the needs of the situation—you can get out of the gates quickly when there’s something to get done and you can take a deep breath and think things through when it’s better to measure twice and cut once.
Can you think of a recent situation where the way you direct your energy was a bad fit for the situation or for another member of your team?
Getting Your Needs Met
Now take a look at the expectations part of the table. Which side is more like you? Do you need outlets for your energy with tangible results you can see as you go? Or, do you need time to recharge your batteries and to get more intellectual rather than physical stimulation? Neither is right or wrong.
Understanding what you need to be at your best will help you find situations and environments that are suited to you. If you need physical activity, you might be better suited to jobs where you move quickly from one task to the next with minimal time at a desk or in meetings. If you need time in your head, you will fare better in roles where you can work with ideas and balance time getting things done with time to think and plan. Communication is the key if you find yourself in a situation where you are forced to go against your natural style for any more than a short time.
The complexity with this and other aspects of personal style is that it’s possible to behave in one way and need the opposite. If you are always on the go but actually need quite a bit of down time to reflect, you might find people filling up your calendar thinking you like to go non-stop. If you have learned to sit still and focus but inside you’re dying to get up and get moving, you might need to be clear with people that you need a brisk walk between meetings. Share what you need so others have the opportunity to set you up for success.
For High Activity Needs
“I find we spend considerable time planning things to a level of detail that doesn’t help. Where possible, can we get clear on what we need to accomplish and they give it a try?”
“I really struggle to stay focused in those all day meetings. Can we find ways to break the day up or make a longer lunch so I can get outside for a quick breath of fresh air?”
For Low Activity Needs
“I find we have such a bias to action that we’re planning too little and then having to rework our solutions. I’d love to help the team get aligned before we scatter to get things done.”
“I find the pace of our offsite sessions a bit much. Is there one night where we can forego a team dinner?”
It’s valuable to look in the mirror sometimes and to see who you are and how you show up on your team. This is just one dimension that you need to understand about yourself, I’ll share more throughout the series.
For more information on the Birkman Method® check out their website here.