One of my favorite things to do in a team building class is to take the participants through a shortened version of an interpersonal style model (I use the Merrill-Reid model, but DISC or any other four quadrant model works just as well). We do a simplified version of the assessment, walk through the model, and then get in groups by style and practice “flexing” to meet the needs of one’s opposite style. It gives me a great platform to talk about the importance of knowing your own preferences well, knowing the preferences of your teammates, communicating about those preferences, and most importantly, developing the ability to step outside one’s own comfort zone to meet someone else where they are.
That’s not what’s fun about it though. (Ever notice that what’s fun is often not the same thing as what’s productive?) The fun part is that it gives everyone permission to be who they are for the rest of the session, and they start to ham it up. The Drivers start barking orders, while the Amiables start helping me facilitate the interaction. The Analyticals, who have typically been quiet up to this point, ask more questions and demand more data. And the Expressiveness go off the wall, to the point where I have to keep shouting at them to keep it down. I think what makes it fun is that suddenly people have a new filter for looking at the behaviors that they often drive each other crazy with. And suddenly it’s not about judging those behaviors anymore, it’s just about understanding and accepting them. There’s a sense of freedom that comes with that, and a sense of self-acceptance. And yes, a sense of humor. Sometimes I leave them in their style groups for the rest of the afternoon, just because they enjoy it so much.
If your team has been through a personality or style model before, try this in your next team meeting! But don’t say I didn’t warn you. You might not get anything done on your agenda that day, but you’ll strengthen team relationships and give people some new tools for talking about what bothers them.