Take the Shape Quiz to learn about yourself and colleagues

Posted by on Nov 8, 2016 in Communication, Conflict, Creativity, Effective conversations, Leadership, Self-awareness, Teams | 3 comments

This fun quiz is designed to get you thinking about how different we are.  It’s important to understand that you approach your work with a style and perspective that varies from your colleagues.  Understanding and appreciating the strengths within those differences allows you to become more successful.  You can start to work with the differences rather than against them.  It’s not meant to be a label – people are far too interesting and multi-dimensional for that.   Still, for the purposes of the quiz you’ll pick from four shapes. If it isn’t apparent already, there is no value judgment connected with which shape category people fall in. None of them are better than the other ones. Each one has qualities that are good for certain purposes and it has qualities that aren’t so good for other purposes. So here’s the quiz:  pick the figure you like most of these four shapes – a square, a triangle, a circle or a squiggle.  Then you can scroll to the bottom for a description of that type, including tips for your own improvement and tips for others to work better with you.  For a more complete picture you can even pick the figure you like the best and then the figure you like the second best.     The purpose of the quiz is not just self-understanding, but better communication.  You need to orient toward the style of the other person. A square will want specifics or perhaps details in writing. A triangle won’t appreciate indecisiveness. You may have to remove distractions before getting a squiggle’s attention. A circle needs to connect and have a conversation. In handling conflict, circles tend to accommodate or compromise. Triangles tend to compete, or, if they see how they can gain, compromise. Squiggles may not even perceive there’s an issue, but they can be competitive in defense of an idea. Avoidance is characteristic of squares because they don’t like dealing with emotion, or they may dig in until they get more information. Groups tend to take on a personality of their own.   Good teamwork needs all the shapes – triangles to focus on decisions and results, circles for harmony, squiggles for ideas, and squares to create the systems to get the details done. THE SHAPES QUIZ SQUARE:
 Details & Data & Systems People Characteristics: Hardest workers; task oriented Loyal Structured; organized Think sequentially, logically May be stubborn with opinions based on their data Value details and data; analytical Know policies & rules Not fond of change, prefer a stable environment Prefer to working alone to teamwork May see fun as unnecessary or a luxury Trouble saying “I’ve got enough information” Conservative, regular, orderly Meeting behavior:  well prepared, lots of notes, gets right down to work Motto: “Give me a job and a deadline and I’ll get it done” If you are a square it might help help you to: Be less picky with people Create your own routines Allow yourself to make a few mistakes so you...

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In-Groups and Out-Groups At Work

Posted by on Mar 5, 2015 in Conflict, Teams | 0 comments

In groups and out groups aren’t just a bad memory from high school.  They are ever present in the work place, often subtle, and incredibly easy to create.  Unfortunately, they often diminish effective performance and limit collaboration. In most organizations I work with, there are still functional silos.  Manufacturing doesn’t talk to sales.  Clinical doesn’t like administration.  The commercial loan folks don’t like the mortgage folks.  It’s not that they don’t like each other as people – they just see each other as “different.” Unfortunately that perceived difference has grave consequences. Our history as humans trying to survive has made us very attuned to “in groups” and “out groups.”  We relied on those closest to us to help us and couldn’t trust those we didn’t easily recognize. The brain evolved to process information about those close to us in the same way we process information about ourselves – in the same part of the brain.  So we have more empathy, more acceptance, more intention to understand. On the other hand, when we see those in an “out group” do something, we process that behavior in a different part of the brain.  Therefore, we tend to assume they are motivated differently than us, so we have less understanding, less ability to process their pain.  And we are much more likely to misread our impact on them or miss it entirely. Let’s say marketing is a close group and the sales team is a close group and someone in the marketing department makes a mistake.  The sales team are less likely to be empathetic, to think “oh, I could have made that mistake,” and more likely to think, “they are so incompetent.”  The next time marketing needs to collaborate with sales, they will have less success and perhaps be met with hostility, even though in any organization marketing and sale need to work together. Here are three ways leaders can help break down barriers and build a collaborative environment. Having some relaxed social time together builds connection – a pizza lunch, for example.  Casual time that includes some humor (fun) promotes a sense of relatedness. Expressions of gratitude build a communal sense on both sides that can last long afterward. Creating shared goals is particularly important and can re-integrate the groups so the barriers break...

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Organizational Tangles: Use a SCARF to untangle them

Posted by on Feb 13, 2015 in Change, Conflict, Self-awareness, Teams | 0 comments

I have a client in an  “organizational tangle,” as Dr. Marcia Ruben titles a business challenge with multiple causes, diverse stakeholders, conflicting agendas, and charged emotions.  We’ve been using a the SCARF model of understanding five motivators to find a way to untangle the situation. SCARF is an acronym for a relatively new model of human needs developed by David Rock, founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute (where I’m pursuing certification in NeuroLeadership) based on the last ten years of neuroscience.  It is based in part on the research that the brain feels social pain as intensely as physical pain, and we have more memory of our social pain than physical pain.   Research has also shown that our brains are primed to move away from threat or pain and toward reward or pleasure.   So at work, we are motivated to join in or avoid situations based on five domains that our brains have evolved to value for survival purposes. These five social drivers described by SCARF are S:  status (our social standing compared to others) C:  certainty (our ability to anticipate, predict, and prepare) A:  autonomy (our sense of control) R:  relatedness (our connection to others – be they friend or foe) F:  fairness (our perception of the equity of a situation) We’re all different so we have individual SCARF profiles.  There is even an initial assessment so you can discover your rating of the five (although the assessment has yet to be validated.)   Click here if you want to try it.  About 46% of the thousands of people taking the assessment have rated Certainty as their dominant domain, so see how you compare. My client’s role gives him high status in the organization, which can blind him to the impact of his decisions on the status of others in the organization.  Similarly he has a low need for certainty, having lived an entrepreneurial life with a high tolerance for risk and change, so he didn’t foresee how the uncertainty of the change he implemented would impact his staff. Furthermore, since the change was initiated as a top down process, the staff is struggling with a lack of perceived autonomy. The research on the SCARF model shows that the domains interact and  improvement in one domain can offset another.  My client has made use of this as a strategy.  He’s been spending a lot more time walking around his facility, talking with people, jumping in to help with even mundane tasks such as emptying recycling bins holding town hall lunches – building an increased sense of relatedness and reducing the status differential.  He’s created a temporary team of volunteers from each department to bring forward everyone’s ideas about how to implement the details of the change – building an increased perception of autonomy.  (And it’s the perception, not the actual control, that is what matters to the brain.) Using the SCARF model is helping him untangle the tangle.  In the future he will be able to use it in...

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Take the Color Quiz – Read the science behind it’s value

Posted by on Sep 25, 2014 in Self-awareness, Teams | 0 comments

When my ideas are challenged it stretches me to think and re-evaluate.  A scientist questioned the validity of the Shape Quiz when I presented it at an engineering firm recently.  I answered that it’s a vehicle to talk about differences, but the question kept me thinking. I offer the Color Quiz below to learn about yourself, to learn about others, and to learn how to manage the space between more successfully.  Does it fit you?  If not, are you sure it doesn’t?  Would others think it fit you?  What can you learn? It may not be scientific, but it seems to resonate with people that have tried it. We each  have elements of all these characteristics, just as we do the four work styles defined in the Shape Quiz.  It makes little sense to divide the whole human race into just 4 different types in the case of the Shapes, or eight different colors.   We are more like snowflakes with infinite variety. I used to be resentful and resistant to all personality or behavioral assessments (although I studied them all in grad school).  I didn’t want to be defined by them.  I never remember my Meyers Briggs letters and maybe that’s my remaining resistance. What I do find useful is to explore my preferred behaviors, and how they may limit me. If the shape or the color tells me something I don’t agree with, who can I check with to see if I’m in denial, or blind to that in me.  If I read about you, how can it help me?  I find it useful to be curious about how we are different, and how we might see and approach our work together from varying perspectives.  How we might form better teams and create better collaborations.  But it can be  awkward to talk about.  If we’re good smart people, shouldn’t it just work? These simple quizzes have no scientific pretense, and are not verified statistically at the .01 level, which allows them to be a bit more fun and playful, and therefore a lighter, safe way to have conversations about our differences, and how those differences contribute to success and also get in our way.  We also might discover that we are so much the same that we’ll have blind spots, or gaps in our process and we’ll have to compensate or get others on our team to provide what we miss. These quizzes  provide an entrance point to conversations that might otherwise not happen because we might be stuck in judgment about our way being the right way.  Conversations that could be uncomfortable if they do happen. Differences can be hard to talk about. Let’s find ways to make it easier. Thank you to the scientist who asked the question.  It helped me gain clarity about how I’ll present these quizzes in the future. COLOR QUIZ: Pick the color  that is most appealing: Red White Blue Purple Black Green Orange Yellow Now read on to see what it...

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Transitions are Messy – 3 Lessons from Nature

Posted by on Mar 13, 2014 in Change, Self-awareness, Teams | 0 comments

Transitions are messy – they don’t necessarily feel good or look good, in the yard or at work.  But maybe we can learn three lessons from the weather.  I came back after a weekend away in New Hampshire full of cold weather and snow, but at home it had been warm.   The lawn that had been snow covered for months was now bare, showing all the detritus and damage of winter.  What a mess!  I was seeing nature’s transition – the awkward  time between winter and spring. It got me thinking about other transitions that feel so awkward.  New roles at work, new processes, new people on teams.  The past, just like the winter, contained lots of good – lots of beauty.  The snow softened our landscape, reflected more light, and accentuated the details of tree branches.  The past work role, old process, or former team often were just fine, special in their own way, and perhaps even better in retrospect. Then along comes the new change – raw at first.  It’s not smooth, or pretty right from the start.  It’s awkward and there are ups and downs – just like the temperature spikes up and down in the transition from winter to spring.  There is lots of work to do to usher in the new season, just as there is lots of work to do to create a new team, or step into a new role. At times it seems like the transition won’t ever occur.   On Cape Cod where the ocean surrounds us and the winter cold water extends the chill of winter longer, it frequently feels as if spring will never come!  The transition drags on and on… and we can’t do anything about it. Lesson 1:  In life, you may have more control of how long your transition period lasts.  First of all, enter it knowingly, with awareness.  Pay attention to the impact of the transition on everyone it touches, even peripherally. Expect bumps.   The new team member gets impacted, but so does the whole team. Lesson 2: Next, do the work that’s part of the transition, whatever that might be.  With a new team, for example, address whatever needs to be changed up front – deciding on new rules, new roles, ways to resolve conflict, joint expectations. Lesson 3:  Last, remember to have hope.  A rough transition, just like a rough end of winter, doesn’t mean that the future will be awful.  Spring just may be beautiful....

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Your Awareness Filters Determine Your Choices

Posted by on Jul 29, 2013 in Decision Making, Leadership, Mindfulness, Teams | 0 comments

Paying attention means seeing with as much clarity as possible, including seeing those filters through which you interpret the world and which determine what you tend to see and what you tend to miss.  You need to become more aware of what you don’t see.  Differences in culture, generations, training, family background, gender, etc. are all filters that determine what you notice and respond to. What age lady do you see in the drawing?  (Your experiences color how you take data and make sense of it.)  Hint:  there are two women of different ages, one looking down and one looking away. Context also determines how we filter information. Since it is physically impossible to pay active attention to all the stimuli around us, our brains are constantly choosing what’s important and what’s not important.  When my son was in an African game park doing research and sleeping in a tent, he paid careful attention when he heard grasses rustling outside.  I’m unlikely to notice grasses rustling outside the window of my office when I’m preparing a budget. Unfortunately, too many leaders allow their filters to blind them to important clues in their organization or in their marketplace.  That’s how Sony lost out to Apple and iTunes in the revolution of music distribution. Perspective also filters what we’re aware of.  Depending on where we’re standing, we see different sides of an issue.  If you stand on the beach to the left of the ball, you think it’s yellow.  If you stand on the beach to the right of the ball, you think it’s red.  Same in an organization; if I’m in sales, I’m aware of different issues than manufacturing.  Organization silos cause problems because of this filtering.  Cross-functional teams have problems when not aware of their distinct filters. My colleague and friend, CEO John Wipfler, JD, MBA said it well.  “In any one moment you are bombarded with multiple data points.  Our own awareness is a filter for what we allow in and what we do with it.  The more cleanly I take in information (without adding my biases) the more I open myself to my environment.” What filters are you looking through?  How do they differ from those of your colleagues?  Your customers?  Your vendors?     More on this in THE AWARENESS PARADIGM, A Story of Leadership Success Due out in...

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