Team Dysfunctions Blog — Collaboration

Character flaw? Really??

Posted in: Behavior, Collaboration, DISC, Teams  on June 16, 2015

Character flaw? Or behavior difference?

Behavior is measured on the DISC assessment.

If you are familiar with the DISC behavior profile you will understand what I mean when I describe myself as having a high D/I and a low S/C behavior style.

If you are NOT familiar with the DISC it measures our tendencies when dealing with the “four P’s” of behavior:

  1. Dominant with Problems (D)
  2. Influential with People (I)
  3. Steady work Pace (S)
  4. Compliant with Procedures (C)

The high D/I style suggests that I am direct and dominant (“D”) when approaching problems or tasks, and inspiring or influential (“I”) when it comes to interacting with people. Different behavior styles are not character flaws!

It also suggests that I am flexible – NOT structured or systematic (“S”) – in how I approach my work pace. And that I am, uh, stubborn and (sigh) careless with details – NOT cautious or compliant (“C”) – with following procedures.

And, as I do wherever I go, I took my high D/I style with me to do a workshop for a group of high S/C individuals who are all those things I am not – structured, systematic, compliant and detail-oriented.

It did not go well.

  • I neglected to pay close enough attention to the behavior styles of the group and I approached the workshop in my typical enthusiastic, direct, engaging style. It was a little too energetic, and therefore overwhelming, not engaging, for them.
  • I brought the wrong power point presentation. It was close, mind you … one I had previously done with their executive team and then edited for the purpose of doing it with this team. But it was, nonetheless, the wrong one and some of the references and dates in the body of the presentation were no longer accurate and didn’t match the handouts.
  • I failed to prepare them for what they considered to be the “intrusive” work we would do as part of the team building process. It included answering questions such as, “In order to do my best work this is what I need from you …”

The bottom line was that I established myself – once and forever – as someone who lacks attention to detail. Indeed, no matter how hard I try and how diligently I focus on the minute details, in virtually every subsequent contact with them I have missed a relevant detail, supporting their belief that I have what they consider to be an egregious character flaw in my lack of attention to detail.

For the record, this is a trait of mine that I do not like or admire or appreciate. It is frustrating and discouraging to make copious lists and try all sorts of other behavioral adaptations to ensure that I attend to all the relevant details and then discover that I missed something anyway. But a character flaw?

In my book a character flaw would be more along the lines of lacking integrity; not caring how your behavior negatively impacts someone else; dishonesty; being untrustworthy, unkind, entitled, or jealous. It might even include not giving somebody a little bit of grace for their human limitations. Hmmmm.

If the lack of attention to detail is, in fact, a character flaw then I see it as equally damning as the inability to interact comfortably with people in any situation; or the inability to stand up before a few hundred people and present information that is inspiring, engaging and meaningful – activities that are usually difficult for the high S/C type. (Excuse me while my D/I is showing.)

Of course, I don’t think that is at all damning. Or flawed. Or even “bad”. Perhaps a challenge, a limitation or a non-talent but certainly not a character flaw.

It. Just. Is.

Nobody's Perfect resizedAnd, therefore, it is, simply, something I have to deal with and cannot ignore because, after all, I am not perfect.

So put me in front of a few people or a few hundred people with a topic I am knowledgeable about. I’ll have a great time and they’ll leave feeling inspired and encouraged. But ask me to ensure no details are overlooked in the process? Well, unfortunately, that I cannot guarantee.

All in all it was a good lesson for me. I pay more attention to my audience now, adjusting how I present information accordingly. And when that high S/C type drives me nuts with details or thoroughness in finishing a project I remember to give them some grace, appreciate what their style brings to getting things done well, and – hopefully – laugh about the differences.

DISC is a great tool to increase self-awareness and appreciate different approaches. It is invaluable in decreasing team misunderstanding that contributes to unproductive conflict. If you want to learn more about DISC check out our website or contact us. We’ll give you one with our compliments so you can see the impact it can have when you recognize and appreciate the different behavior styles that make up your team.

Playing in the sandbox nicely

Posted in: Collaboration, Competition, Mentoring, Women's issues, Workforce Issues  on May 3, 2013

While the word “friends” can definitely go along with “collaborators” the word “competitors” generally isn’t considered to be a natural next step or a word to be included with the other two.

Yet that is exactly what my friends and collaborators Janet Treer (The Treer Group) and Kathleen King (The Power of Possibilities) and I are to each other – friends, collaborators, competitors.

Our businesses are similar … We are all certified coaches.  We all do some level of strategic planning, team and leadership development and training.  There are definite overlaps but there are also definite specialties and approaches unique to each of us.

We also all happen to believe that there is enough business to go around.

And so we are collaborating on the KEE to Your Future Mentor Program – Know, Engage, Emerge! – a program that will pair women who are entering or re-entering the workforce or who want to develop in their career goals with seasoned business women who will provide support along the way.  This morning we presented a Professional Development Friday workshop through The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce – Maximize Momentum through Mentoring.  This session provided some guidelines for people who want to create a mentoring program in their workplace.

This isn’t a new view, and it isn’t unique to our little businesses in Lancaster, PA.  Harvard Business Review just posted a blog in which they refer to such collaboration as “collective impact” – “Collaboration Is the New Competition.”  They may be talking mega-corporations impacting the world, but there’s no reason why mini-corporations can’t have a significant impact in their little worlds by collaborating.  HBR provided five “lessons for driving large-scale social change through collaboration.”  I’d like to suggest five steps for impacting your local community through collaboration:

  1. Agree to play in the sandbox nicely.  At the very start of our collaboration Janet, Kathleen and I identified what we each do and within that what we prefer to specialize in.  Sure, I can do strategic planning.  But Janet specializes in that.  Likewise I’ve done supervisory training but that’s Kathleen’s specialty.  And either of them could probably take a leadership team through overcoming the five dysfunctions of a team but that’s my specialty.  We’ve acknowledged each others’ specialties and agreed not to step on anybody’s toes.
  2. Identify what each is willing to contribute to the partnership.  This includes time, money and other resources.  How will expenses be handled?  How will we handle payments for any services as part of the program?  How is time valued?  Who does what?  What resources do we each have that we are willing to share?  This is the sort of thing that has to be out on the table so there are no surprises.
  3. Divide up project duties based on expertise and interest.  I think I can safely speak for Janet and myself when I say that we are so thankful that Kathleen is more of a stickler for details and organization than either of us.  She keeps us on task via her meeting minutes and action steps.
  4. Co-promote each participating business.  Our mentoring workshop was created to help organizations have a foundation to implement their own mentor program.  Among the three of us Janet was interested in working one-on-one with companies to help them develop a program.  Kathleen and I would welcome the opportunity to provide the training for a company, but we really aren’t interested in getting in there to do the nitty gritty of creating the program with them.  We are more than happy to promote Janet and her business in that regard.  And we know that she is equally prepared to promote our businesses as well.
  5. Give each other grace.  Speaking only for myself, so far this collaboration has been a completely positive experience.  I’ve already learned a lot from both Janet and Kathleen and it’s been enjoyable spending time with them and working on this together.  I imagine at some point there might be a disagreement.  This is, after all, real life.  And because of the trust we’ve developed and continue to nurture I know we’ll be able to give each other the grace to work through whatever that issue will be.

We may not be dealing with $8 million bond issues or 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions.  But in our corner of the world we intend to show the business community that competitors can be friends and, yes, also collaborators.

(Want information about the KEE to Your Future Mentor Program?  Contact us or leave a comment and we’ll get back to you!)

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