In the past month, Brian, HawkPoint’s Software Architect, has had some really excellent observations, and I wanted to share what I’ve learned from him.
Teaching Zigzag to A Bunch of Squares
A month or so ago, Brian shared a personality quiz on our internal Yammer page. The test shows five shapes and asks you to choose the shape “that best described you”.
I struggled a bit with this one. Unlike other quizzes that ask specific questions about specific scenarios, this one just said pick a shape to define you. My first reaction was that, this is stupid. Perhaps it is.
I pulled out the parallelograms as those made no sense at all. The circle did not seem right either. Between the triangle and zigzag, I went with zigzag.
The results were interesting, but this test is not rocket science. All answers are vague enough that they can apply to anyone who is narcissistic enough to believe in this stuff. Truth is, the test itself wasn’t really a defining moment for me.
The lightbulb moment was in recognizing that everyone is different. Whether it be by experience or choice, we all respond, behave and think differently. As we are coaching or being coached, professionally or otherwise, we must always remember that we perceive the world differently than those we teach and those who teach us.
Taking a look at the current climate of the world, “everyone is different” should not have come as a shock to me, and it didn’t in the grand scheme of things. It is the details that make this important. We all have obvious differences we all can see or identify, without really getting to know one another. It is the details of who we are that define the difference for how we learn and/or teach. I may be a zigzag, but not all my direct reports are. I am responsible for developing the careers of squares, circles and triangles, so I need to acknowledge their differences to better coach them and provide the appropriate direction in a way that makes sense to them.
When collaborating, it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that we not only communicate “the message” but also are understood. Customizing my message to be understood by all is important. Taking time to understand questions is important. Patience to explain things in a way that suits the individual is important. Perhaps you knew all that. Perhaps I did too. I guess I just took this specific quiz, at this specific time in my career to acknowledge it.
Have you taken the shape personality quiz? Many businesses place value in Myers Briggs or the Predictive Index. It’s interesting to take these every so often to see if we’ve changed. When I took the Myers Brigg test about four years ago, I was an ENFJ. But, 17 years ago I was an ESTP.
I also took the Predictive Index test 17 years ago, but I do not recall the results, other than it basically classified me as a used car salesman… Back then, I was more talk, less substance so that would make sense.
Another “things that make you go hmm” moment from Brian came in a series of emails about defensive scheduling. Nothing new with defensive scheduling, but he added a comment that really got me thinking: “I’ve determined that I’m the most productive at high-focus items between the hours of 1-4 p.m. With that knowledge, if I have to work on a high-focus item, I’d set aside 1-4 p.m. to work on it.”
Good thinking, Brian. Brian knows himself, his work habits and the habits of those around him to plan a defensive schedule that will allow him to be efficient and focused when he needs to be.
Now about me (isn’t everything? JK).
I, too, know things about myself. I am more patient and can more rationally focus on the needs of others, first thing in the morning. By the afternoon, I am engaged in the fast-paced action of daily HawkPoint. I have my own stuff to do and I am therefor, far less open to questions and/or coaching. I’m not saying it’s right. Just an observation.
Building on that, I am sharp in the afternoon. I move quick, I think quick and I can juggle multiple things accurately… Just don’t ask me to process your personal problem or career coaching questions during this time, unless you want a direct, accurate but probably not sensitive to your feelings, answer.
Again, I’m not saying I condone or I’m proud of these observations. I’m not even a slave to the behaviors. I can manage any situation, at any time. I’m just better at certain situations, at certain times.
So that’s Brian and that’s me. How about you? How do you work? How do your personality traits, individual strengths, weaknesses and self-assessments play into your daily routine? Do you steer into the skid or fight it? How’s that working out for you? I’m genuinely curious. Leave a comment below so we can continue the discussion.
Meet the Author
I started my adult life as a graphic designer and I’ve tried to maintain that creativity throughout my career in Information Technology.
Over my twenty-plus-year career, I have worked a range of technical positions. I understand the limitations and the potential of technology. It is through the use of creativity and experience that I have been able to help companies integrate and optimize technology in their manufacturing and business environments, creating stable business processes and moving them forward.