Do you know which Star Wars character reflects the true you? Or, which super hero best shows your personality? Perhaps, you’ve taken formal assessments and can talk about Myers-Briggs, DiSC, or your Gallup Strengths. These tests are great for justifying why you behave the way you do, right? Well, not necessarily so.
If you’ve played games at someone’s home, inevitably you’ve learned of “house rules.” Those are the tweaks and changes made to a game’s rules to make the game work well in that household. Learning the personality or behavior types of your employees and co-workers means learning to play by their “house rules.” Does that mean bending to the whims of every employee? No, it means understanding what matters to them and recognizing that they may be playing from a slightly or entirely different set of rules. Even if you can’t remember all the details of personality, you can at least recognize this when trying to improve workplace communication: You are not me.
Working with a distributed workforce doesn’t diminish the importance of making the best use of assessments and understanding the work styles of others. Let’s look at one of the older and more common assessments, the DiSC, and consider how it can help us relate to remote workers.
Some personality issues melt away with remote work. A remote worker won’t steal your lunch from the breakroom fridge. They won’t leave their dirty coffee mug in the sink or talk too loudly in the hallway. You could almost forget they’re there! However, if you want to keep remote employees engaged, the DiSC assessment can be a tool to help you with retention.
First, learn your own style. Understand your preferences and then remember, “You are not me.” Once you learn a remote worker’s DiSC style, you can ask questions to improve your communication according to their style. Listen carefully to their responses. Tone and pace can be significant indicators when two people are not in the same room for the conversation. Let’s take a look at each DiSC style.
We need remote workers who can achieve results and see the big picture. They are assertive, direct, and understand the bottom line. They are self-starters and want to control their destinies. If you were to meet a D in person, you could expect them to stand tall and extend a firm handshake and steady eye contact. Don’t miss that tenacity and confidence because of distance. Your D employee can thrive in remote work! Here are some questions to get you off to a good start in working with a D:
- What response time do you expect when you submit work?
- Rank these communication methods from most favorite (1) to least favorite (4): email, phone, text, co-working platform (Basecamp, Trello, Asana, etc.).
- How do you want me to work with you when we encounter problems in our projects?
Just this week, an article claimed that remote work is best for introverts. Then a second article elaborated how extroverts make the best remote workers! No matter which report you believe, you will have some employees who prefer more interaction. Interactive employees, according to DiSC, have active minds, boundless optimism, and excellent people skills. They know how to have fun and can be quite free-spirited. They live in the realm of possibility. But, can they get the job done out there on their own? Of course, they can! Learn more about your employees who fit the I profile by asking these questions:
- What kind of feedback do you need from me? How often? In what format?
- How do you want to “socialize?” How connected do you want to be outside of our work platform?
- How often do you need a check-in to feel connected?
- What effect would a co-working space have on your work satisfaction?
- Can you send me a picture of your cat (or dog, or goldfish)?How do you like to celebrate your successes?
Your co-worker with an S work style will be supportive and calm. The S’s are friendly and compassionate. They know how to listen well. And they are some of your most loyal employees. These people prefer familiar patterns. They value consistency and are happy to work behind the scenes. Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they are not hard at work on the project at hand. As they work for the team, they need support, as well. But, they may not tell you what they need! Find out how to best engage them with these conversation starters:
- What are your general work hours? When is the best time to connect with you?
- How will I know when you need my feedback? Encouragement?
- How do you want encouragement from me?
- What is the best way for you to feel connected to the team/project?
You should definitely make room on your team for those who have the C style on the DiSC profile. If you’re not a C, these employees may drive you crazy with their attention to detail and processes. However, their commitment to accuracy will bolster your team’s projects. C’s often prefer to work independently. But, that doesn’t mean they want to feel isolated. Someone with a C style may not give as many cues for you to read. Questions will draw them out:
- How do you organize your work? How can I serve you in that?
- What information do you need access to in order to produce your best work?
- What do you need from me for your systems to work well?
- Are there any tools you need for excellence in your work?
Personality differences are what make a team whole. Every style contributes. And your careful attention to drawing out the best of each style will create cohesiveness, clarity, and collaboration, in spite of the distance.
Taking Flight: Master the DiSC Styles to Transform your Career, Your Relationships,…Your Life by Daniel Silvert and Merrick Rosenberg