Awhile ago a couple of people on the team were upset with each other and when I was speaking with Andrew later, he made the point that it didn’t seem like one was right and one was wrong but just that they have different styles.
This reminded me of the work we used to do at the bank (I’m sure they still do) where a group that works together each take a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment (“MBTI”). An expert in the field then assesses the overall results and works with the team to understand how they can all work together more effectively and hopefully more enjoyably.
My friend Marilyn and I have completely different styles. She THRIVES under pressure and does her best work in chaos. She’s a lawyer/negotiator for an oil company and the more everyone is getting freaked out on a deal, the happier she is and the better she performs. Me, I’ll do anything to avoid chaos and confusion. I’ll start today to work on events or deadlines months away, an approach Marilyn teases me about at the same time I am calling her a big procrastinator.
What we do anywhere is what we do everywhere
I believe, and I think evidence shows, that our personality styles are hard wired in our DNA: we demonstrate them in our personal lives and we live them in our work. So for a work team, of course clashes can occur and a session like we are having in September – oh yes, the 7 of us on the PGB management team are having a workshop! – can help a team understand its diversity of communication styles. From the starting point that there is no “good” or “bad” type, a well-facilitated MBTI session then helps the team use the information to perform more efficiently and effectively – and have more fun!
NOT a Band-aid
The only caveat is that I’ve found these sessions can be used in an attempt to paper over deep unfixable divisions and/or intractable performance issues. If a team member has a toxic personality or is fundamentally not pulling his or her weight – or if two people on the team disrespect each other – an MBTI sessions, or any session, won’t help.
What needs to happen in cases like that is managerial courage. Put in strict performance objectives, let people go, move someone to a new job, whatever it takes. Simple, but as I have written in this blog earlier, tough moves like that really suck and I have seen managers use “team building” as an avoidance strategy. Sure, everyone is nice to each other for the day, eating the chocolate chip cookies* and looking out the window, but no one’s heart is really in it.
I can’t wait for the session with my wonderful team! Although heads can butt from time to time, I know each person on the PGB team really cares about his or her area of responsibility and that we respect one another. I think we will learn a lot about each other that may not be readily apparent and, I hope, come away with new ideas for communicating and working together.
*better yet, mini cupcakes 🙂