Get to Know Your Teammates

You might know what they eat for lunch or how they answer the phone, but you probably don’t know what you need to about your teammates.

When I work with teams to help them become more effective, I always start with alignment. I shared the Knightsbridge approach to creating alignment in a six part series you can find here. Start there if you don’t yet have a team mandate.

Once everyone on the team is clear what you need to accomplish, then you need to understand the people who will get it done. That’s where getting to know your teammates comes in.

There’s no better way to accelerate this process than by using a personality or style tool.  My favorite is the Birkman®, but you can get similar value from a wide variety of tools. Here are the three ways to use the findings:

  1. Each person on the team needs to improve their own self-awareness. You might be surprised about your strengths or weaknesses. I find some of the best value comes from understanding what it looks like when you over-apply your strengths. Before you can understand anyone else, get in touch with who you are and how you show up on your team (the good, the bad, and the ugly).
  2. Use the findings to help individuals on the team understand one another better. How does your natural style conflict with that of one or more teammates? More importantly, how do your styles complement one another? Simply having language to describe the different things you focus on can make it easier to communicate with and show respect to your teammates.
  3. Map your dominant team styles to the mandate of the team. Do your team members have the default styles to support your mandate, or is it a real stretch given the folks around the room?  If your team mandate is to be agents of change across the organization and you don’t have any influencers in sight…you’re in trouble. A good style tool will give you a valuable window into whether your team is up to the job.

Understanding what motivates people, what they naturally pay attention to, and the value they bring is a critical step in building an effective team.  Adding to that greater clarity about how team members are likely to derail leaves you in position to really have each other’s backs.  It’s well worth the investment.

It’s time to really get to know your teammates.