The current virtual work scenario is a perfect recipe for breakdowns in trust and our work relationships. We are physically separated from our colleagues. No more casual hallway conversations to help us connect with our co-workers on a personal and professional level. We may be unaware of the personal struggles they are facing. We have no context for what they are saying and doing as we interact in short bursts over text, email and group video meetings.
Without context, we tend to make unconscious assumptions about the actions and words of others. Those assumptions are dangerous not only because they are most often erroneous but also because they cause us to react in a way that might not be helpful. Perhaps we might even judge our teammates a little more harshly because we are under a bit of stress ourselves.
This will quickly wear away the trust, goodwill and camaraderie we have developed with our colleagues. Breakdowns in working relationships rapidly erode our culture which has a negative impact on the work we produce and the value we bring to our organization. This has never mattered more during a time when people may be counting on us to fulfill a critical need and tough decisions are being made about furloughs and layoffs.
We have a choice: be intentional about preserving, even strengthening, relationships and trust to emerge from this crisis with better, more cohesive teams. Or, allow this situation to negatively impact our culture, reverse any progress we had made before the pandemic and diminish our teams’ capacity to deliver results.
By intentionally bring a little self-awareness and empathy to the situation through a resource like Everything DiSC®, we can each help create the type of environment where we can maintain the connectedness so critical to our success. Below are three simple ways to tap into DiSC to help you maintain and strengthen relationships while working virtually. (Although this article is focused on DiSC, you can still apply these tips, for the most part, to other behavioral or personality assessments.):
- Refamiliarize yourself with your style. Now more than ever it is critical for us to be aware of our own preferences and tendencies. We can’t build effective relationships if we don’t understand how our own strengths and limitations might be impacting others. Review your profile to remind yourself of some key points. How can you leverage your strengths during this situation? How can you be more mindful of your stressors and limitations? Bonus Activity: Explore the My Style section and listen to your style podcast on MyEverythingDiSC.
- Commit to stretching outside your comfort zone. In order to work effectively with others, we need to be like a rubber band, stretching outside our shaded area (our comfort zone) and adapting to other styles. Unfortunately, during times of stress and uncertainty, like we are in right now, we can become more rigid and unconsciously cling to that area around our dot that feels natural. To help you stretch, review page 16 of your Everything DiSC®Workplace profile and choose one of the strategies listed that would most positively impact your work relationships right now. Challenge yourself to making incremental changes in this area over the next 30 days and check-in with yourself often to see how you are doing. Ask a trusted colleague to give you feedback.
- Focus on improving at least one relationship each week. The foundation of a team is the one-to-one relationships between each of its members. Think about someone with whom you’d like to work better. Try one (or both) of these exercises to connect more effectively with that person:
- Determine their style and review the corresponding pages in your profile. Select a few strategies to better adapt your approach when working with them.
- Run a comparison report with your colleague. Go to MyEverythingDiSC and use the Invite Others to Compare button to search for their name. Once you’ve run a report, invite your colleague to talk discuss the results. Work together on some strategies to help you work better together.
Strengthening our work relationships does take some intentional effort on our part. The great news is that, like a rubber band, the more we stretch ourselves to new areas, the more flexible and adaptable we become and the easier it is to stretch. And, if we look at these challenging times as an opportunity to practice stretching, our teams will emerge better as a result.