As we continue to navigate the new, uncharted waters of working during COVID-19, we continue to ask how we can H.E.L.P. We believe those waters don’t have to be murky. That unexplored doesn’t have to mean unmanageable. That’s why we’re talking about how to transition from the guy drifting out to sea (no one wants to be that guy), to the one who tosses him a LifeRing. Today we make the monumental shift into being responsible and feeling empowered. Let’s look at how to do just that for your team.
Invest in Personality Tests
Look, we know there are a lot of opinions out there about personality tests, and we’re not here to tell you they’re infallible as the Pope. However, specific tests have been tried and found productive over and over again for decades now. And friend, when applied correctly, they become a gold mine of understanding.
Two of the most reliable tests throughout history are the Myers Briggs and the Enneagram. Indeed, most other personality tests you see today (16 Personalities, Strengthsfinder 2.0, The VIA Survey, and The Positivity Project) are often in some way a spin-off of these two alphas.
Each breaks personality down into a finite number of types. Within each type, there is a myriad of variables. The varieties may be worded as instincts, how healthy they are, what wings they have, if they are well adjusted, and on and on. Not only are the results of the test helpful, but even hearing a teammate process and answer the questions alone can be eye incredibly eye-opening.
Understanding your own personality and those of your team is imperative to functioning at your healthiest, especially in uncertain times. When you research your individual results, you’re able to be introspective about things like your subconscious motivations, underlying needs, potential trouble spots, and so on. You can recognize behaviors and see pathways of action or efficiency that help you go forward with confidence and empathy, which everyone likes.
Even more importantly, knowing the personalities of your team will help you to allocate resources appropriately and best set them up for success. If you’re your Marketing Director is an Enneagram Eight, you know not to mistake his directness for confrontation (he’s just trying to be efficient). Likewise, your Enneagram Five is going to need all the information from you to succeed and will struggle with vague, feeling-centric theories. Your Myers Briggs ENFP is seriously going to need a detailed plan and will feel overly stressed by lack of structure. Other types will feel weighed down by it. And the list goes on. Knowing each type on your team will help empower them and you to be more responsible for the way they operate within your office (even if it’s virtual).
Engage People Respectfully
Hey, we get it—these are stressful times. The phrase, “I don’t know,” may be one of the hardest for human beings to both say and hear. And right now, so much of the fear we’re experiencing is rooted in the unknown. And the people are stressed. But we don’t want you to look at this as a hurdle, but an opportunity to H.E.L.P.
Like the guy on the boat with a life ring, you have a chance to be the bedrock when there’s little else to cling to. It doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers. It doesn’t mean you don’t fall into the “I don’t know” group (because we all do). It just means that you give your people something they know they can count on.
How do you do that? By engaging them respectfully. It means listening to your people. What your hearing might not always be work-related, either. Even if it does deal with the job at hand, it might be more than you’re used to from that particular or client.
These are strange times, and your people will need more support from you than they usually would. Your empathy — made possible by all the empowering personality test knowledge you possess — will go miles with them. Even if they don’t know exactly what the next few months will look like, they do know that there is a secure space within their workplace where they will be heard and treated with dignity and respect.
Demonstrate Confidence in Your Space
Like all of our suggestions, this is one that should be a constant truth in your workplace but becomes even more critical as you try to H.E.L.P. your team. The stark reality is that your team is more fractured and isolated than ever. The reality of dealing with change, stress, uncertainty, and fear really weighs heavily on everyone, even if they are rolling along knocking down tasks like a champ.
Each individual is completely restructuring the way that they work. Not only do small changes, like working from the same kitchen table as your five-year-old, which makes for new challenges, but embracing the new territory of digital collaboration over easy access to your cubicle-mate. Teleworking brings unique aspects to the job that some of your staff have likely never faced before. Combine it with the fact that we’re all a little more edge than usual, and it becomes imperative to set yourself, and your people, up for success.
One of the best ways to go forward is to focus on what you do well and operate within that space confidently. You should likewise know the strengths of your team and help them do the same. Remember all that savvy intel you gathered from those aforementioned personality tests? This is the place where you put it to use.
Your Enneagram Eight is a natural-born leader, so let them lead the Zoom call if they want. If your Enneagram Seven wants to set up a separate thread to send funnies back and forth and keep everyone’s spirit up, let him. If your ENFP says she’ll create the new Trello board that will give everyone visibility into each other’s projects, let her. By understanding what you do well, you’ll inspire others to do the same. And when they speak up, permit them to flourish.
Balance Your Expectations
As you transition into working remotely with your team, your ability to blow healthy communication out of the water becomes paramount. Without the physical closeness of your team, potential trouble spots in connection can arise. This is especially true of any negative habits and patterns in communication your team may have built over time. The new isolation your team is experiencing will likely put those nasty habits on full display.
Again, view this not as an obstacle but an opportunity. You have the chance to focus on accountability and speak directly to the issues your team faces, as opposed to wading in nuanced dialogue. Remember, you no longer have the luxury of body language or crossing paths. Your social media director couldn't see your relaxed posture when you sent that email to address an issue with his latest post. You don't get five minutes to shoot the breeze with your content manager while you both wait for the coffee to brew.
Communicating intentionally becomes more critical than ever with these new parameters. While we're all hunkered down, you forfeit the privilege of getting lost in the weeds with your words. Instead, focus on meeting your team's needs, speaking directly to those needs, any related concern, and asking direct questions that give them the platform to speak their mind.
What are some other ways you've been striving to H.E.L.P. your team? PRIME has been H.E.L.P.ing a number of business owners, marketing executives, and creative professionals put their best foot forward for years. Now we are H.E.L.P.ing people in several industries stay on track amidst uncertainty. Remember, we're here to support you and are always a phone call or email away. Click below to find out more.