19
Feb

One of the most valuable parts of the Knightsbridge Vital Teams™ process is helping 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 second in a monthly 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.

Do I need to fit in?

I’m a pretty strong extrovert. I like being around people and it’s important to me to be included and liked by the group.  [How much of this is my DNA and how much is a lifelong recovery from being the nerd in high school isn’t clear.] When I need to think through an idea, I’m likely to grab a couple of passersby, pull up at a whiteboard and dive in.  If I happen upon people having that kind of brainstorming session, I’ll be very tempted to pull up a chair.  That’s just me.

But the fact that I tend to get energy from being in groups is something I need to manage—because it isn’t the same for everyone.

The Birkman Method® helps us understand the wide variety of styles and needs with respect to sociability and approachability that we can expect to find on a team.

How do you relate to people in groups?

Think about how you interact. Check out the top half of the table. Are you usually more sociable and interactive? Do you eat your lunch in the cafeteria and enjoy the quality time with teammates. Do you look forward to team meetings as a chance to reconnect?  Are you likely to engage others when you’re trying to solve a problem?

acceptance table

Or are you more independent? Do you prefer to work alone?  When you want or need to interact with your teammates, do you choose one-on-one interaction instead of talking in large groups. Do you enjoy being self-sufficient and coming to your teammates once an idea is fully-baked?

Neither is good or bad. It’s just good to be aware of your tendencies.  It’s important to know because your teammates, your boss, or the situation might call for something different than your usual behavior.

If you are normally less outgoing and you need to spend a week hosting a customer conference, you’re going to have to make an effort to be seen and heard.  Just when you’re hoping to escape to your hotel room, you might need to remind yourself that an informal drink with a key client will solidify the relationship.

On the other hand, if you’re like me, you might need to remind yourself to leave more space for others in meetings.  You probably have a pretty big personality and managing that enthusiasm will leave more room for others who aren’t as comfortable in the spotlight.

Getting Your Needs Met

Now take a look at the expectations part of the table.  Which side is more like you?  Do you really need time away from the din of the team or are you more dependent on it? Again, neither is right or wrong.  And if your needs are consistent with your behavior, you’re probably getting what you need from your team because it’s obvious to them what you prefer.

But if you’re noticing that you show the world one version but secretly need something different, it’s a really important thing to deal with.  If you’re friendly and outgoing most of the time, but desperate to get some time alone to recharge your batteries, you will probably need to be explicit with your teammates about it. They might be dragging you into things when you’re hoping to get some quality time alone.  They need a heads up to leave you in peace.

On the other hand, if you’re more reserved and quiet, but still very motivated to be part of the group, you will need to communicate that.  I’ve seen many painful miscommunications where team members get excluded from lunches or post-work drinks because their teammates didn’t think they would be interested.  It’s perfectly ok to want to be with your teammates, even if you’re just going to enjoy the conversation from the sidelines. Just make your interest clear.

It’s really important 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.

See other posts in the series

What does respect mean to me?

Further Reading

Extrovert vs. Egomaniac: Are you too much for your team?

How to handle the quiet person on your team

How do you Interpret Silence

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