How We’re Building A Team Of Great Communicators
As a new writer on the Nectafy team, I’ve been learning a lot lately. One of the most interesting things I’ve learned so far surprisingly isn’t about inbound marketing at all—it’s about team communication. It all started with a request on my first day of work to take a personality test, and the results, well… they were enlightening, to say the least.
According to my test results, I am a “Governor.”
If you’re suppressing a laugh, we were, too! We’ve had a lot of fun joking about this label, which was assigned to me as the result of a DiSC personality profile survey. All Nectafy employees have taken this survey so others in the company can get a better understanding of how each employee’s behavioral style shapes their personality and therefore their communication style. The report says that by understanding yourself and your co-workers in a deeper way, you can “become a better communicator, minimize or prevent conflicts, appreciate the differences in others, and positively influence those around you.”
After sharing the multipage report with my co-workers, here’s just a snippet of what they learned about me:
- I’m motivated by a team environment.
- My ideal environment includes group activities.
- I crave time for sociable activities and friendships.
- I accomplish goals through people.
Hmm… noticing a trend here? I work best as part of a strong team! I also exhibit numerous traits associated with what the DiSC report identifies as an “I,” or “Influential,” dimension. “I” styles are strong persuaders and very enthusiastic—sometimes a little too enthusiastic, apparently—and enjoy developing new relationships. (But beware of being overly critical with an “I”—we may have a hard time swallowing it!)
What’s the big deal?
All kidding aside, these personality tests play an important role at Nectafy. (Note that the test isn’t used for hiring—it’s only for employees already on board.) In the short time I’ve been here, our personality results seem to play a key role in keeping us, as a company, “real.” It’s made us talk about ourselves in ways that we wouldn’t have otherwise.
While we can’t say for sure that the test will live up to its lofty claims, we can see that it’s making an impact on our work. For one thing, it has encouraged us to take the concept of team communication more seriously. Rather than throwing everyone together, crossing our fingers, and hoping we mesh, we make a conscious effort to understand one another and communicate appropriately. That deeper level of understanding—fueled by discussing the results of our personality tests—helps us work well together as a group and enables greater success at what we do. In other words, don’t expect me, as a “Governor,” to brainstorm on a whim; I need to mull over facts and supporting data before I feel comfortable contributing. This isn’t so with a “Persuader.”
In some ways, it’s also a bit of a team-building exercise. Besides finding amusement in conversation-worthy personality titles (like “Concluder”—now that’s a great one!), we’ve been mulling the results, bonding over similarities, focusing on other team members, and just generally getting to know one another. These activities all contribute to a strong sense of camaraderie—despite the fact that we’re all in different states and have never actually met in person!
Beyond that, our dip into the personality pool has even influenced our outlook on client communication. Having better knowledge about ourselves and our communication styles makes all of us more aware of how we’re interacting with others. It also makes us mindful that not everyone sees things exactly the same way we do—a common barrier to effective communication.
3 Things To Remember About Using Personality Tests In The Workplace
Personality tests may not appeal to everyone, but in the right setting, they actually can make a positive difference in the office. Based on our experiences, here are some tips for using them optimally:
- Personality tests are best used after hiring, not before. As a recent hire, I might have thought twice about taking the job if I knew my chances for getting the position could be affected by the results of a personality test. Studies have shown that, in many cases, personality scores are only minimally aligned with actual job performance. Because of that, the practice could seem discriminatory.
- Manager support is critical. In large part, the personality tests have been a success at Nectafy because of the support of our company president, Lance. It isn’t simply a one-and-done thing—where we take the test then promptly forget about it—but something we’re continuously talking about and being made aware of. Using the results thoughtfully, particularly in new situations and with new people, keeps them relevant.
- There are no “good” or “bad” traits. Many people are against personality tests at work because they think that certain traits will be labeled as negative and reflect badly on the employee. In reality (managers, here’s where your voice needs to be heard loud and clear!), we’re all simply different people with different dimensions. A computer genius might have a hard time sharing their ideas with others, but that can be overcome with awareness and effort. Others may be identified as sensitive, inspiring, especially gregarious, wild about details (or not so much), one who appreciates feedback… you get the drift. It’s a better workplace because we’re different!
The bottom line is this: Good communication is integral to a creating a healthy team. For us, personality tests just work. They not only call attention to our own communication styles and preferences, they make us reflect on how we might react to—and interact with—others. For you, another tool, process, or activity could work equally well, but you’ll never know until you try. After all, your team’s productivity and job satisfaction depends on it. Isn’t that worth the effort?
Does your business use personality tests, or do you have other ways of fostering team communication skills? Either way, we’d love to hear about your experiences! Leave a comment below.