As you start your career, change companies, move to a different department, or take on a new position, you will immediately start sizing up how you will fit in. Corporate America is made up of teams, and you will have to figure out how to navigate being a part of that structure. (Sidebar – I hate to admit this, but I now realize this is why all my professors had us do those loathed group projects in school! Ugh.)
There will be some teams with which you flawlessly integrate, with little thought or effort. But at some point in your career, you’re likely to find yourself in a team where the fit feels like work.
While I am not a psychologist, I am fascinated with how the human brain works and how each individual plays a part in the larger group. This fascination lead me to explore various behavioral assessments to introduce at Kreischer Miller, to help smooth over this challenge of team dynamics. I explored different behavioral assessments such as DISC, StrengthsFinder, Myers-Briggs, the Kolbe Index, and the Predictive Index.
Tools like these provide valuable insights and validation for individuals as well as a deeper understanding of team dynamics. However, I realize not everyone has access to these tools, so here is what they have taught me about team dynamics and successfully integrating with your work team:
- Be who you are. When it comes to individuals there is no “right” or “wrong” way to be (obviously, keeping within general social norms). Sometimes we work so hard to be who we think people want us to be that we lose sight of the fact that the core of who we are is the most valuable. We are the most fulfilled and productive when we work as close to our “true self” as possible.
- Let others be who they are. When working in a team, tensions often rise when we don’t understand why someone communicates, problem solves, or absorbs information the way they do. We typically approach these situations through our own lens: That isn’t how I would do it. The quicker you can find appreciation for the fact that everyone in a team brings different strengths (and weaknesses), the quicker you will find that team cohesion.
- Gain mutual understanding. A hallmark of many of these tools is transparency. They are tools that are meant to be shared, and that help you let others know, “This is me, this is who I am.” And, they help you understand who your other team members are. Even if you don’t have these tools at your disposal you can apply this principle to your team dynamics. Ask people how they like to work, for clarification on things they say, etc. Most importantly, don’t ASSUME anything…you know what happens when you do that! And similarly, share with others how you comprehend things or like to work.
As you navigate your role in the teams you work within, remember the most important lesson of all – be yourself, and let others do the same. Just think, those group projects in college actually DID serve a purpose. Don’t tell my professors I’m admitting it!
Bobbi Kelly is Kreischer Miller's Director of Human Resources. She has over 12 years of experience providing human resources advisory services to a variety of businesses, including privately-held companies and partnerships. Bobbi joined Kreischer Miller in 2014. Contact Bobbi at Email.
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