Business Chemistry Featured in Harvard Business Review Spotlight on the New Science of Teamwork

1417 MarApr17 Cover_CMYK.inddPioneers, Drivers, Integrators, and Guardians

Every team is a mix of these personality types. Here’s how to get the best out of any combination.

by Suzanne M. Johnson Vickberg and Kim Christfort

Published in Harvard Business Review, March/April, 2017

Organizations aren’t getting the performance they need from their teams. That’s the message we hear from many of our clients, who wrestle with complex challenges ranging from strategic planning to change management. But often, the fault doesn’t lie with the team members, our research suggests. Rather, it’s often leaders who fail to effectively tap diverse work styles and perspectives—even at the senior-most levels. Business Chemistry can help.

A first step is to identify the work styles of your team members and begin to consider how similarities and differences are beneficial or problematic. How many detail-oriented Guardians do you have versus big picture Pioneers? What’s the balance of competitive Drivers with consensus-oriented Integrators? How are these diverse styles complementing or conflicting with one another?

Next, it’s time to actively manage those similarities and differences. Read our full article in Harvard Business Review for more detail on these strategies for doing so.

  • Pull your opposites closer. Often, the biggest pain points are in one-on-one relationships, when opposite styles collide. By pulling your opposites closer—having them work together on small projects, and then bigger ones if it’s working out—you can begin to create complementary partnerships on your teams. It’s also important to pull your own opposites closer to you, to balance your tendencies as a leader.
  • Elevate the “tokens” on your team. When a team’s makeup is lopsided, cognitive bias can creep in, often leading to “cascades” or momentum that carries the team in the direction of the most common viewpoint. Your goal here should be to elevate minority perspectives on the team without turning others off. This way you can benefit from all the perspectives represented, not just those in the majority.
  • Pay close attention to your sensitive introverts. While a cascading team may lose out on contributions from any style that’s in the minority, members who are most introverted or sensitive can be at greatest risk of being drowned out. So that you don’t lose out on the unique strengths brought by these types, make an effort to understand how the team’s ways of working are supporting them to make their best contribution, or not.

Dr. Suz

Suzanne Vickberg, PhD (aka Dr. Suz)

Dr. Suz is the Greenhouse Team’s very own social-personality psychologist, which means she studies how people’s thoughts, behaviors and preferences are influenced by both who they are and the situations they’re in. She uses Business Chemistry to help teams explore how the mix of perspectives brought by their individual members influences their work together. Follow her on Twitter @DrSuzBizChem


This publication contains general information only and Deloitte is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. Deloitte shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.

About Deloitte

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. Please see www.deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of DTTL and its member firms. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

Copyright © 2017 Deloitte Development LLC. All rights reserved.

What the Media Has to Say about Business Chemistry and Stress

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A couple of weeks ago Deloitte’s Business Chemistry team released our research on Business Chemistry & stress. It’s been really exciting to see it get picked up by the media and to observe which aspects of the research various outlets choose to focus on. People are really interested in this thing called stress. [We knew that. It’s why we’ve been studying it. :-)]

A sampling of the articles out there…

I should add as a proof-point of our own findings that I am a Guardian and a Dreamer, that we made a fair number of “mistakes”–not in the research itself, but in the process of getting it launched out into the world–and as a result I experienced quite a lot of stress along the way!

View our webcast: View our webcast “Stressed at work? It might be your working style”

Stressed at Work? Is it your Business Chemistry?

Stress. It may be one of the most talked about workplace topics of our time. Enter “workplace stress” into a search engine and you’ll find thousands and thousands of articles outlining what’s stressful, why it’s stressful, how to cope, and the consequences if we don’t. Increasingly, stress at work is acknowledged as an engagement-sapper, a productivity-stealer, and a dangerous health risk. But is everyone really that stressed out all the time? Do some people experience the workplace as more stressful than others? What strategies do people most often use to cope? In the past year, Deloitte’s Greenhouse Experience Team has embarked on a large-scale study of professionals to find out more.  Today, we release the findings on Deloitte.com–Business Chemistry’s Stress Study.

Through an online survey we asked people a series of questions about their stress levels, how stressful they find various workplace situations to be, how effective they are under stress, and how often they use a variety of coping strategies.

In addition to answering questions about stress, all respondents completed the Business Chemistry® assessment, enabling us to compare their responses to the stress questions with their Business Chemistry type. We found statistically significant differences between Business Chemistry types in several areas.

This research is a powerful first step for teams looking to improve working relationships, and ultimately, team performance during times of stress.

Let us know more about your experience with stress at work and your thoughts about our study.  Comment here or share your thoughts on Twitter, @DrSuzBizChem #stressstudy. Also, don’t forget to share this with your team and colleagues!

Read more about the study and our findings on Deloitte.com

For tips on what to do about stress on your team read Business Chemistry Do’s and Don’ts During Times of Stress

View our webcast “Stressed at work? It might be your working style”

Read more about our methodology

Dr. Suz
Suzanne Vickberg, PhD (aka Dr. Suz)
Dr. Suz is the Greenhouse Team’s very own social-personality psychologist, which means she studies how people’s thoughts, behaviors and preferences are influenced by both who they are and the situations they’re in. She uses Business Chemistry to help teams explore how the mix of perspectives brought by their individual members influences their work together. Follow her on Twitter @DrSuzBizChem

This publication contains general information only and Deloitte is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. Deloitte shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

Copyright © 2016 Deloitte Development LLC. All rights reserved.

How to plan a meeting that people won’t dread—Part II

Planning a meeting that people won't dread—Part IIRole Plays. Skits. Improv. These words strike fear into my heart. I know these methods can be great ways to work through a tricky problem, and many people love the opportunity to actively engage with an idea or challenge by getting up and acting it out. Even I’ll admit that I love the fun and energy in the room when my colleagues perform (I have many talented and hilarious colleagues). But I’ll do just about anything to stay off the stage myself.

Last week I wrote about some ways that you can plan meetings and events that meet the needs of more Business Chemistry types more of the time. This week I’ll continue that theme, starting with a discussion of these anxiety-producing (for me) kinds of activities.

When quieter types hesitate to get involved we sometimes implore them to “get out of their comfort zone” and “stretch” This kind of encouragement can be helpful if someone just needs a little push to get there. However, for others, improv and role plays are too far from comfort, and if someone’s totally preoccupied by performance anxiety, they’re probably not focused on learning. On the flip-side, for others, sitting too long and listening or discussing is boring, boring, boring. And if someone is bored, they’re not learning much either. For many of these folks, the chance to use their creativity and acting chops keeps them interested.

A key here is to make it okay for people to participate in different ways. While some people can’t wait to get into the spotlight (ahem, Pioneers), others are more comfortable participating offstage, developing a script, suggesting an improv scenario, creating a prop, recording a video, cheering their colleagues on, or summarizing learning in a wrap-up conversation. So yes, let’s all stretch a little, but not so far that we pull any muscles.

Continue reading “How to plan a meeting that people won’t dread—Part II”

How to plan a meeting that people won’t dread

Planning a meeting that people won't dread My closest teammates sometimes tease me about the time they found me standing in a corner with my headphones on, while a sea of people socialized around me. We were two days into a three-day series of meetings with about 100 of our colleagues, and my extrovert side had totally given up the ghost. I’m a Guardian and a Dreamer (a combination of internally-focused types) who works primarily from home, and I’m not used to quite so much togetherness. You might wonder why I didn’t just take a little bit of alone time. The short answer is, I didn’t want to miss out on anything! What can I say, people are complicated.

A few weeks ago it was time again for these annual meetings, and I looked forward to the event with equal measures of excitement and dread. Among the many things our team does well is engage people, and I knew the event would be valuable and fun. But I also knew that sometimes I need a chance to disengage, or at least to engage differently. And that can be hard to do at these kinds of things. Which raises the question, how can you plan a meeting or event that meets the needs of everyone participating, when the needs of everyone aren’t the same? When people have conflicting needs, how do you appeal to all types without turning anyone off? And how can you do so while delivering an exceptional experience rather than one that feels watered down?

Continue reading “How to plan a meeting that people won’t dread”

Who are you when you’re stressed?

Who are you when you're stressed?Last week was really stressful for me. I’m in the midst of several writing projects at once, nothing I would recommend, and it seemed there was also a hurricane blowing, full of other responsibilities, inquiries, requests, and demands swirling around me. You probably know how that feels.

So what did I do? I hunkered down, and spent several hours organizing my calendar–obviously–one of the more Guardian-like tasks a person can engage in. Because that’s what I do when I’m stressed.

And how about you? When you’re stressed, what do you do? Do your typical behaviors intensify? Or do you tend to act a bit out of character? Do you think your Business Chemistry type changes? Or does it get more extreme? We’re often asked by our clients just these questions. So we set out to answer them.

We asked people to complete our Business Chemistry assessment while imagining they were under stress, and 111 people did just that. Specifically, we asked people to “respond to each item as if you’re in the midst of a very stressful time. You might think back to a specific stressful time you’ve actually experienced, imagine a stressful time, or just focus in on the feeling of being under stress in general.” We then compared people’s stressed results to their original Business Chemistry results, to see if they were different.

The majority of respondents (70 percent) indicated they had recalled a specific stressful time they’d actually experienced, while 23 percent thought about being under stress in general, and just 7 percent imagined a specific stressful experience. Most respondents indicated they were thinking about looming deadlines and time pressure, critical and high profile projects involving clients and/or leadership, the need for multi-tasking, and/or a heavy work-load. In other words, they were thinking about the typical day at work for most of us.

In short, we found no evidence that any of the Business Chemistry types intensify under stress, but we did find evidence of changes in people’s behaviors and preferences.

Continue reading “Who are you when you’re stressed?”

Business Chemistry matters when change is afoot…

Chameloen.One of my favorite things about teaching Business Chemistry to teams is myth-busting. And one of the most common myths we need to bust is that Pioneers are “good” at change and no one else is. Now, it may be true that Pioneers are naturally more comfortable with change, or that they even relish it more than the other types. And it may also be that their adaptable natures make it a bit easier on them. But, thinking through the strengths and challenges of each type reveals that they all have something important to contribute in times of change, and also that they all may need a bit of help adjusting, in one way or another. So if you’ve got a big change coming, or you’re in the middle of one right now, keep the following in mind.
Continue reading “Business Chemistry matters when change is afoot…”

When a Driver isn’t just a Driver—Scientists and Commanders


A while back I shared some hints for recognizing a Driver, as well as some suggestions for flexing your own style to theirs. As a quick reminder, generally speaking Drivers are logical, competitive, and tolerant of confrontation. They’re often skilled with numbers and technically-oriented.

You might also recall that I recently revealed there are actually two sub-types of Integrators—Teamers and Dreamers. Well, as it turns out there are also two sub-types of Drivers. We call them Scientists and Commanders. As with the Integrator subtypes, drilling down the level of these Driver sub-types provides us with even clearer guidance on how to flex our style to theirs or to create the kind of environment in which they’ll thrive.
Continue reading “When a Driver isn’t just a Driver—Scientists and Commanders”

When an Integrator isn’t just an Integrator–Teamers and Dreamers

A while back I shared some hints for recognizing an Integrator, as well as some suggestions for flexing your own style to theirs. I hope you’ve been putting this information to good use! As a reminder, generally speaking, Integrators are empathic, diplomatic, and not likely to be competitive. They prioritize relationships, value consensus, and feel a sense of responsibility to others. They’re open-minded and trusting.

Business Chemistry was designed to be simple enough to understand and remember. That’s why we focus on just four primary types. But sometimes it’s helpful to get a bit more granular. And in this case doing so reveals that Integrators are not all equally easy to recognize, and in fact, there are two sub-types of Integrators. The Teamer is outgoing and more extroverted, while the Dreamer is reserved and more introverted. If there’s a Teamer in the room you’ll probably know it, but the Dreamer is more elusive.

If you’ve ever had difficulty recognizing an Integrator, this difference may be why.
Continue reading “When an Integrator isn’t just an Integrator–Teamers and Dreamers”