Mary Beth Ray has never shied away from a challenge. She served as an ANC 3F commissioner and she co-founded the predecessor to Van Ness Main Street, ANC 3F’s Van Ness Vision Committee. Ray went on to chair the VNMS board. Now she is helping people take on their own challenges as a leadership, career and life coach.
This brings to mind visions of one-on-one personal coaching and career development, but Ray also engages groups with her coaching. We were curious about that so we asked her to explain what is involved.
How to Get Your Team Unstuck and In Flow
by Mary Beth Ray
You leave yet another meeting exhausted and frustrated. Did anyone even hear what you said? Everyone seemed to be talking past each other, one person hogged the floor, and next steps are clear as mud. What’s the point of a team if everyone refuses to collaborate?
Sound familiar? Whether a law firm, company, nonprofit, board, government agency, or another organization, how you and your colleagues understand or misunderstand each other affects every aspect of your organization’s performance.
Workplace conflict is unavoidable, and it most commonly occurs when team members are fundamentally different. But differences are good and provide balance to the organization, which is crucial to top performance. The key is to identify and manage those differences, understanding yourself and others on the team, and the values each person brings.
What small but significant differences can you make to understand each other better? With a team assessment and debrief, employees understand the reasoning behind their colleagues’ actions, and they can begin to communicate their frustrations with each other with safer, less-confrontational language, and in turn, improve overall team awareness.
Differences can feel like each team member is speaking a different language. What if you had an instant translator to understand each of those languages? Team assessments are like instant translators.
What’s the difference between individual and team assessments? Many people are familiar with Myers Briggs, but not so familiar with a team assessment. While an individual assessment such as Myers Briggs can tell you about yourself, a team assessment will pull together data on the whole team, highlighting strengths, potential areas where members might get stuck, and identify adaptations that can lead to better collaboration. It can also identify potential gaps on your team, which can be taken into consideration in hiring to diversify your team and build strengths where they are currently lacking.
How does it work? Each member of the team takes an individual assessment measuring behavior, motivators and emotional quotient. The questions are online and take about 20 minutes. The assessment yields a 50-page report, followed up with an individual debrief with a certified coach, which takes about an hour and a half. Individual assessments identify individual strengths, ask if your strengths align well to your job role, and ask whether you are being managed to your strengths. Following individual debriefs, the team gets together for a group debrief with the coach, which takes less than 2 hours.
What happens in the team debrief? Each individual is plotted on the Success Insights Wheel, showing their natural and adapted behavior. Natural behavior is “the real you” and adapted behavior is how you change your behavior to adapt to your work environment. During a team debrief, the coach facilitates a discussion that gets everyone involved in sharing their strengths and identifying challenges. Starting with a volunteer, each member of the team shares their key insights from their reports. What are 1-2 things you’d like your team to know about you? For example, do you like to lead or be in the background? Do you want to research every possible answer, or do you have a strong sense of urgency to get the work done. What value do they each bring to an organization, how do they want to be communicated with? We review perceptions, how each team member perceives his own value, and how others might perceive them under moderate or extreme stress. What do the natural and adapted graphs show with regard to how people approach problems and challenges, how people influence people, whether they process verbally or internally? What’s the potential for conflict when a boss is an extrovert and others on the team are introverts?
What’s up with the wheel? Where do team members fall within the wheel, are they task oriented or people oriented? Fast or slow? What value does each member bring to the team, and where might the team struggle? What are the learnings, and next steps to cultivate adaptations? If everyone in the group is a Supporter, it might feel like a calm, steady, friendly place to work. But would hiring a Persuader help drive new challenges, results and PR? What challenges could be anticipated with the addition of a Persuader?
Is this judgment? No. It’s all about self-awareness and empathy. The self-awareness and empathy we learn through assessments teach us to understand where people are coming from, why they do what they do, and what motivates them. Assessments reveal the filters through which we process information and make decisions. Every decision has emotion attached to it, and as we discover our own emotion, and that of others, we’re able to reflect, make space for others, and ultimately make better decisions.
In short, there is no judgment, no right or wrong answer, and each person brings unique strengths and value to the team. Insights gained through team assessments provide the foundation for more effective communication, and mission success.
How accurate is the data?
TTI is the world’s leading developer of research-based, validated assessment and coaching tools, used in more than 90 countries and in 40 languages. TTI regularly uses statistical analysis and brain imaging to update and validate their questionnaires. Between January 2014 and May 2017, TTI collected data from 1,735,323 people. Here are the study results.
The DISC and Driving Forces assessments are pegged to the norm unique for each population it surveys. So for example, Argentines taking the DISC are benchmarked against other Argentines, not against Americans or French.
Individual assessments give you an accurate perception of yourself, and how you interact with people. You will understand the causes of conflict. Results will guide your personal and professional development and a higher level of satisfaction. Team assessments will quickly show where conflict can occur, and identify where communication, understanding and appreciation can be increased.
Coaching can be a great next step following individual and team assessments. Coaching is a partnership between coach and client, with the coach using active listening and powerful questions to challenge and inspire the client toward self-awareness, growth, and action. It is different from therapy, mentoring, and performance review.
Leadership requires growth, and growth requires self-awareness. Assessments and coaching are great tools to dig deeply to understand who we are, what motivates us, and whether our lives are aligned with our values. What are our strengths, and how do we lean into them? What are our opportunities to be better leaders? Moving from good to great leadership moves a team or organization closer to mission success.