Two years ago we began using character assessments and coaching to understand how we operate as individuals and, in turn, how that shapes our work. Our hope was that, through a better understanding of our interactions with one another, we’d improve autonomy and team communication. In most every way, it has.
A new brand of communication at work
Our internal communication has improved because each person has a firm understanding of both what makes them tick and that of the person they’re working with. That enables a whole new brand of communication which helps us identify challenges earlier than had we otherwise avoided talking about them.
It’s also helped us understand how each of us fits into the organization – we have a mix of personalities from task masters and introverts to a-types and extroverts. Knowing how every one fits into the organization has improved our role alignment and troubleshoot more efficiently when something isn’t working – a topic I wrote about recently.
Bringing (the best of) work home with us
What we didn’t anticipate from our coaching experience is that the practice of understanding ourselves and others would have just as much utility outside of work where the traditional effect of the workplace is typically measured in terms of stress.
The things I’ve learned about my own internal wiring as well as how others perceive me has been invaluable for me – it’s helped in my marriage, as a parent, a friend and, most recently, as a communication conduit for my extended family, who had been stuck in a rough spot for quite some time.
I wanted to know whether others on my team had the same experiences – were the exercises we go through at work to be more mindful of our interactions with others helping beyond work and, if so, how?
“After having Jon (Lisa’s husband) take some assessments too, I realized that he compliments my weaknesses and vice versa. Jon truly enjoys managing projects and has a great ability to keep track of details and push things forward with solid planning, facts and logic. While he’s not necessarily going to create a huge vision, he’ll make it come to life and ensure it’s successful. Likewise, he’s not completely risk averse, but it takes him longer to be comfortable with a quick change of plans than it does for me. My excitement for the new plan usually wins him over quicker, though. He’s the yin to my yang.”
– Lisa, COO of Kin
“I’ve learned a ton about myself and what makes me tick. I’ve been able to refactor my approach to conversations and it has allowed me to get to a clear solution more efficiently. This has helped my relationships outside of work as well. I can tell someone ‘Look, this is who I am, but this is how I want to be, and this is how I’m getting there. Likewise, I can zero in, in a non-emotional way, on how someone else needs to be engaged with. It’s helped me understand me, but it’s done just as much to help me understand others.”
– Grant, Engineering Director
“I tend to overanalyze things and get frozen in indecision. I wasn’t aware of who I truly am as a person before, so when presented with challenging question like, ‘What do I want to achieve professionally?’ I simply didn’t know where or how to start. I now have the ability to see how I work and communicate with people day in and out – it’s like a light has been turned on and I can see everything around me better. It doesn’t solve the problems so much as help me read the situation and understand why I work the way I do and why I am who I am in a more connected way.”
– Anthony, UI Engineer
“Since doing assessments with the Kin team, I have been open to a whole new way of thinking about my working habits and patterns. For example, I have been trying to get into shape (trying) and hitting the gym more lately. The process reminds me of learning a new exercise and seeing yourself in the mirror for the first time. You might think you were doing the exercise correct and just needed to keep pushing through, but only until you see yourself from another perspective do you notice how you keep swinging your knee out, or leaning forward too much. Only until you get that outside perspective do you know what you need to do to course-correct and fix those bad habits or patterns you naturally fall into.”
– Gage, Design Director
Employers have an interest beyond the workplace
Given that satisfaction and fulfillment in one’s personal life has an inevitable effect on how we perform at work, I’ve come to recognize the workplace’s ability and, perhaps even responsibility, to have a positive, profound effect on how people function outside of work.
Just like at work, life throws all of us curveballs at the least attractive moments – there’s simply no way to avoid that. What we’re armed with now though is a better way to talk through the issue, understand the various players who are needed to resolve it, and to do so with coherence and intent.