About a year ago, my completely remote company was in a bit of a teamwork predicament. We had a highly talented, newly minted, extremely hard-working and high-energy team that just didn't seem to be more than the sum of its parts. Yes, we had fantastic individual creators, but teamwork just wasn't coming as naturally as we would have liked.
Particularly with remote companies, team dynamics can take a little bit more time to gel. Given multiple time zones and the absence of in-person time, people frequently communicate via instant messaging or large group meetings. In a brick-and-mortar setting, detecting visual cues and learning about people's behavior happens naturally; with a remote team, it can be far too easy to stick to the bottom line and skip over friendly conversations.
It's tempting to assume that the answer to improving engagement is a few virtual happy hours and some more "get to know you" meetings. And while this is definitely a piece of the puzzle, it's also valuable to identify a way to deeply understand how people think and how they like to work together. More and more companies operate remotely each year; we knew that there must be a way to help the team get to know one another faster, in a more substantial way.
The Team Dimensions Personality Test
The Team Dimensions test is a branch of the DiSC profile, lauded by strategists such as Tony Robbins, and is able to identify behavioral patterns and strengths in all of your employees. DiSC measures dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness, and sorts test takers into the five main team roles (creators, advancers, refiners, executors, and flexers). The end result gives business leaders an awareness of how to help their team connect.
After a nominal investment of 15 minutes, you'll know who the creators, advancers, refiners, executors, and flexers are, what they do best, and what you can do to motivate them. If you have someone in a role unsuited to their strengths, you can take action before the team loses momentum on a big project.
For example, creators want to know: What's next? They've also got the ideas that will help your company pioneer its way into the future. Advancers are great at one-on-one interaction and helping motivate others. Refiners are your left-brained operations specialists, who can generate timesaving systems and analyze the effectiveness of your current processes. The executors get things done. Deadline-oriented and sticklers for the details, they are going to ensure the company to-do list is complete.
You may have guessed that having a creator as your systems analyst could be bottlenecking your process. On the other hand, you might need someone with the ability to be incredibly forward thinking in order to come up with an out-of-the-box solution. Knowing what charges your employees can help you better manage a creator in a not-so-creative position.
How can a personality test make your team more effective?
For starters, it can help keep your team balanced. If you have all creators and no executors, your team will be full of ideas with no one to move them forward. And, of course, the opposite is problematic too.
The test can also help you rethink your hiring procedures. Certain roles are clearly better suited for certain personalities. For example, I am the CEO, and I am also a flexer, which really helps as I can stretch to fit the needs of any role. If you want a marketing team that is highly focused on data, a refiner is a great fit. However, if you're looking for blue sky thinking, a creator might be just what you need.
Every role has its pros and cons, and each employee has strengths and weaknesses. Playing to your natural strengths and sharing those strengths with your peers will foster a sense of companionship, especially at a remote company. Base how to help your team work together on their workplace-specific personalities, and you'll be able to create cohesion.