In the last few weeks, businesses around the world have experienced a shock to the system with the majority of workers being forced to work remotely for the foreseeable future. Once a highly debated topic of contention among many traditional businesses, working from home has, within the blink of an eye, become the new normal.
This isn’t necessarily a negative. It’s well known that when individuals are given the flexibility to adopt remote working practices, they often tend to be more productive, more innovative and experience greater well-being. However, while some people will consider a period of remote working to be positive, or even a benefit, it is something that will also be viewed with a degree of concern by others – especially when combined with a long period of time in isolation. Many people enjoy the social side of being in an office; the interaction with colleagues, being able to exchange ideas and collaborate face to face. For many, this makes up the majority of their weekday interactions.
It’s important to consider potential issues that employees could face if they struggle to switch off. Just as some staff may find it hard to be engaged with work when sited remotely, others will be unable to define and stick to boundaries between work and home life, when both are mixed under the same roof.
Understanding behavioural styles doesn’t just help you keep these employees engaged, it can also help to prevent burnout and work-related stress for those unable to switch off. Understanding your people’s communication styles will be crucial to whether working remotely will be a success for your business. Get it right and you will engage your workforce and boost productivity. Get it wrong and you could isolate your team and disconnect your best talent from critical projects.
Now – more than ever – we need to realise quality communication with our teams, to function as best as we possibly can.
The Management Recruitment Group have worked extensively with Thomas International for several years and consider their PPA tool as the original behavioural assessment, and still one of its best. Following the Thomas DiSC principle, we’ve put together the most effective way to take care of, and manage, your team’s wellbeing and maximise productivity.
High Dominance – Direct and Result Oriented
High Dominance types are naturally competitive and goal orientated, and may feel lost and disempowered if remote working reduces their ability to drive for results, especially if it becomes harder for them to meet their current goals and targets. They want to feel a regular sense of achievement and for those successes to be known to others. A naturally direct communicator, this person may adopt an increasingly belligerent style with both their manager and colleagues if they perceive that those people are not prioritising their needs.
- A high D likes to be challenged so ensure that you give them tough assignments that will extend them and keep them driving for success.
- Provide regular, concise updates in writing, or on a call. Being informed will help them feel empowered.
- Adapt their targets and performance metrics to reflect a remote working environment to help them feel a sense of success against a new set of goals.
- Ensure that there are communication channels in place to share their accomplishments with others.
Dealing with Change
High Dominance types will readily accept change. They are continually looking for ways to reduce cost and add value to the organisation. As such if they are confident that any form of change can better the results the harder they are likely to drive forward: taking risks and expediting action. However, because they believe they are able to see the 'big picture' they may push things through without either consensus or consultation.
Some High Ds will seek to ensure that they continue to be virtually surrounded by their team to protect a personal position or status. Rules and discussions might be altered to ensure that a High D’s outcome is achieved.
High Influence – Outgoing and Social
High Influence types are likely to be positive about remote working as long as they understand the structure and have a clear support network around them. They may feel anxious and concerned if they do not feel that they are being listened to or have opportunities to collaborate or communicate with colleagues on a regular basis. As an agreeable and communicative person, they will enjoy supporting others and will want to be included in discussions about tasks, projects and any changes to their ways of working. Listen to their ideas and make them feel involved.
- Focus time on this person; discuss how they can contribute to supporting others in remote working and how they could be supported in adapting to any changes.
- Allow for regular updates and catch-ups face-to-face, giving them time to prepare; but also be available for them to have impromptu catch-ups online when needed.
- Listen to this person and allow them time to articulate themselves; talk about both ideas and also practical methods to get things done.
- Provide this person with encouragement as they go, specific and positive feedback will be well received so they are able to sense check their progress.
Dealing with Change
High Influence types will outwardly appear confident but inwardly they probably prefer the security of a structured working environment with no sudden or abrupt changes. Initially, they may feel threatened by any suggestion of change, preferring the status quo. However, once they have been given time to consider what is being proposed and assess the likely consequences, they will be prepared to take action and go forward. A High I may need help and support through the change process.
They will likely go through periods of frustration with other team members as they are missing what they crave most, face to face interaction and the opportunity to talk regularly. However, now more than ever, High I’s will shy away from others seeking to forward an agenda for the sake of it and will want to ensure all parties are getting something out of each interaction.
High Steadiness – Patient, Cautious and Self-Sufficient
High Steadiness types will become demotivated if they have to adapt to change frequently and they will express their frustrations verbally. A remote working environment may be challenging when it is new, but this person will thrive if they are provided with clear processes to follow and opportunities to discuss their personal requirements with their manager and colleagues. A friendly and frequent communicator, it will be important for this person to feel connected to their team and colleagues, especially when working remotely.
- To avoid distraction, a high S should have clear guidelines and scheduled regular catch-ups to review progress.
- Schedule regular, face-to-face updates but ensure that you provide this person with enough time to prepare in advance. Let them know what you would like to discuss and how long you will have.
- They may need support when it comes to making quick decisions. Provide them with opportunities to discuss the sign-off processes with you.
- Provide a variety of communication forums for this person to use to communicate, collaborate and work with others. Making sure that they know there is a network around them even though they are working remotely; Face-to-face is likely to be preferred.
Dealing with Change
High S’s enjoy stability by nature and therefore are likely to view change cautiously. They have a dislike for change and may initially feel threatened by it. They tend to be contented with things as they are, so prior warning and help through the change process is likely to be needed. However, as they continually seek to improve standards they are likely to accept change once the benefits have been assured. They may need to qualify for themselves the value of such change but once they feel comfortable and help is given, they will proceed.
Removing certain distractions (such as the daily commute or water-cooler chat) might be appreciated by a High S. They prefer to be task oriented, completing each at a time. If they have a quiet setting away from children or other distractions, they will likely to comfortable and achieve a great deal.
High Compliance – Systematic and Detailed
Someone with a high C personality type will become demotivated if they do not have clarity, especially concerning the processes they should follow and the criteria they are being measured against. They will thrive when clear processes and ways of working are in place and will appreciate the opportunity to adapt them to their personal circumstances. You will experience more frequent communication from this person if you schedule regular updates with a clear agenda in advance. They like to feel prepared.
- Written communication containing comprehensive details and processes to follow will be engaging for this person.
- Dedicate time to talk to this person in detail about any concerns or queries they have, allowing them the space to reflect and come back to you.
- Ensure this person has regular opportunities to review processes and working methods with you. They will seek efficiency in everything they do.
- Provide opportunities to support project planning whenever possible, their methodical and detailed approach will be highly valuable.
Dealing with Change
Due to a need for security and structure, high C’s have a dislike for change and may initially feel threatened by it. However, they are continually seeking to improve standards and therefore, will listen and consider what is being proposed. This person needs time to qualify for themselves the value of such change and will objectively rather than emotionally assess the situation before expediting action. This person is unlikely to take risks, but once they are able to qualify the benefits of change and are clear about the action needed they will proceed.
Now, more than ever, we need to realise the importance of communication and managing people effectively.
There’s no doubt that our working lives have had to change rapidly, with many leaders and managers having to consider how this might affect their own behaviours and coaching style, and figuring out how best to manage their teams in this new environment.
When under pressure, we revert to type. Managers will have seen high D’s being more direct and forceful, high I’s craving more social interaction and a stage on which to perform, high S’s being more organised than normal and high C’s being more detailed oriented and precautious in order to get things right.
Rather than thinking about these behaviours in a negative light, we must encourage ourselves to consistently be focussed on what we are trying to achieve, and why we are doing certain things. If managed the correct way, we can all find positive ways of improving performance not only of ourselves, but also of our colleagues, when working remotely.
If you'd like a personalised Remote Working report, contact Matthew Evans for further information. firstname.lastname@example.org