A four-person work team that was working together on a project and this happened - system wide internet breakdown.
They had a huge deadline to get ready for marketing promotion, so tensions are high. They all jump into what I call their default “Transition Personality Style”. Here’s what happened:
Thomas insists they pack up their laptops and head off to Starbucks. When no one joins him, he goes alone.
Saida brainstorms on how to continue the work without Internet. She gets an idea about starting a whole new off-line promotion. The others just ignore her.
Lilly ignores them both and tries 7 more ways to get the Internet going again.
Ricardo gets stressed by the group tension and so asks if they can talk it out. Everyone is so focused on their own tasks, they don’t respond.
People took action before discussing it with each other. They got reactive instead. Of course productivity slowed right down and they missed the deadline. People blamed each other for missing the deadline. “If Thomas hadn’t left.” “If Lilly had stayed focused on the marketing project”. This only escalated the tension. The truth is they were all responsible.
Scenarios like this happen every day and work teams. Two problems:
- People were not understanding their default personality style when navigating challenges.
- They were unable to switch styles as the circumstances changed.
During our debrief together with the team people agreed that they needed to handle things differently. I had everyone on the team do the ESIAC Transition Personality Style quiz to discover their default style during change and challenge. Here’s what they discovered:
- Thomas turned out to be a strong Initiator. He likes to get tasks done quickly and efficiently, so going to Starbucks to keep the workflow going made the most sense to him.
- Saida turns out to be a strong Explorer. If the usual way doesn’t work, she likes to go into idea mode and try something “outside the box”.
- Lilly turns out to be a strong Stabilizer. She likes to stay with the present situation and take the necessary time to problem solve.
- Ricardo turns out to be an Adapter. He likes to go with the flow, be supportive of other people’s ideas and find harmony in a group.
After discussing and better understanding each other’s style they made a plan for dealing with situations like that in the future.
The the Internet goes down. Even though they are on a deadline, they sit down to negotiate an action plan for 10 minutes.
- Ricardo facilitates the meeting to ensure everyone’s ideas get heard.
- Saida gets everyone brainstorming on any idea possible to meet the deadline despite a lack of Internet.
- Then Lilly takes over when it comes time to choose and prioritize the ideas.
- Then Thomas creates an action plan with the top ideas and assigns roles.
Everyone is leading sections based on their strengths, and agrees to allow others to lead in their area of strength.
THE ULTIMATE GOAL? Over time they learn to skill build in the other 3 areas, so they can change their style depending on the needs of the situation.