Guardians in Hell: How to Stop Killing Their Potential

*This second post in a four-part series is about a Guardian (one of four Business Chemistry types), how the wrong work environment kills her potential, and what could be done about it. Search #BCstories for post one of the series, about a Pioneer, and stay tuned for posts three and four, about a Driver and an Integrator, respectively (which I’ll also tag #BCstories).

Once a Guardian named Gwendolyn was given one month to coordinate the creation of a website illustrating her organization’s vision and how they were living it. This was a high-profile project dreamt up by the board, and one that lots of stakeholders deeply cared about. Was Gwen an expert on websites with a deep understanding of the vision? Did she have a broad network of connections to draw upon? Did she thrive in the role of herding cats? Not at all. She was highly skilled in other areas, but she got this particular project because she happened to be standing nearby when it was assigned. From her Guardian lens, this wasn’t a fairytale about being handed a golden opportunity. It was a horror story.

The good news was that because of the tight time frame, there were lots of resources (also known as people) assigned to the project. This was also bad news—lots of people to coordinate, and every one of them with strong opinions, hellbent on expressing them energetically, and all at the same time. Everyone was looking to her to make quick decisions but Gwen could barely think straight in their presence. And they seemed to be present all the time.

Gwen and her team were provided the “gift” of a dedicated section of their open-space work environment in which to collaborate. Because so many important people had a stake in the project, the team was expected to be visibly working together on site as much as possible. But that meant constant interruptions and no quiet place to think or to focus on the heads-down, detailed work that she, as a Guardian, typically excelled at. When she pointed this out to leadership they told her to stop being so inflexible—this is how innovative work gets done.

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Pioneers in Hell: How to Stop Killing Their Potential

*This first post in a four-part series is about a Pioneer (one of four Business Chemistry types), how the wrong work environment kills his potential, and what could be done about it. Stay tuned for posts two, three and four, about a Guardian, a Driver, and an Integrator, respectively (which I’ll tag #BCstories).

Last year, a Pioneer–let’s call him Jack—was being lauded by his company for boldly departing from convention and leading his business unit to new heights of innovation. Shortly thereafter, Jack got a new boss. Before their first in-person meeting, his boss asked him to put together a plan for the upcoming year. And populate a detailed template. In a spreadsheet. With multiple pivot tables and complex macros. 

Jack, a consummate Pioneer, put off completing it as long as he could; he didn’t have a particular aversion to numbers, but he felt they missed the bigger point of his ideas. Not to mention how his eyes would cross and his mind would wander every time he looked at row upon row of inputs and outputs and compounding variables. If he could have used a tool to visualize the data that would have helped. He finally got it done just in time for the meeting, but the process sucked the life out of him. 

On the day of the meeting, Jack entered his boss’s office relieved to have the whole spreadsheet ordeal behind him and ready to brainstorm possibilities for the year. But he barely began to wax enthusiastically when his boss shut him down with the words, “Let’s just walk through the template, shall we?” And they did. Line by line. Cell. By. Cell. And at every stop his boss would question the numbers, the assumptions, the formatting. Every time Jack would ask her to “imagine this” or “picture that” she would simply sit there with a grim expression, whereas she positively lit up when she found a rounding error!

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Why people think you don’t appreciate them, even when you do

shutterstock_22905142 [thank you] (3) - Copy

Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.“ –Gladys Bronwyn Stern

When did you last ask someone how they like to be recognized? Maybe you don’t think you need to ask, because you already know what people want. They want money. Or they want to be acknowledged by leaders. Or, when they hit it out of the park, they want everyone to know about it.

Do they really?

We surveyed more than 16,000 professionals about how they want to be recognized, and for what, and by whom. We found that what one person wants is often different from what someone else wants. And further, that those differences are related to one’s generation, gender, organizational level, and Business Chemistry type. Read the full report for all the findings: The practical magic of ‘thank you’: How your people want to be recognized, and for what, and by whom. Read on here for a summary.

Business Chemistry® is Deloitte’s framework for understanding and engaging different working styles, which was highlighted in HBR in March-April 2017. There are four primary Business Chemistry types, each with unique perspectives and strengths. Pioneers value possibilities and they spark energy and imagination. Guardians value stability and they bring order and rigor. Drivers value challenge and they generate momentum. Integrators value connection and they draw teams together.

Understanding individual worker preferences can be critical to creating an employee experience that is personalized, flexible, and customizable. And using Business Chemistry to frame these preferences helps us identify practical strategies for creating stronger working relationships and inclusive environments where all types excel and thrive.

So, what do people want?

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Integrators value connection and they draw teams together

*This is the final post in a four-part series about the Business Chemistry types. Check out the first, second, and third posts in the series, about Pioneers, Guardians, and Drivers respectively. Subscribe here so you don’t miss future posts! 

CONNECTION—that’s what it’s all about for Integrators, and connector is the role they often play on a team. Sometimes an Integrator is focused on creating connections between people, and other times on connections between ideas. Either way, Integrators like working on teams more than toiling away in solitude. They’re trusting and they forge deep relationships—beyond networking or teamwork—getting up close and personal to form real friendships with colleagues. 

And there are lots of reasons you’d want to be friends with an Integrator. For one thing, they go out of their way to be helpful. You know that one colleague who’s always happy to pitch in and does so with a smile? They’re probably an Integrator.

Integrators are great listeners and observers too. They pay close attention to what’s being said and can often sense even unspoken emotions and reactions. And then they take others’ feelings into account. An Integrator knows that sticks and stones aren’t the only things that can hurt relationships—words can too, and they bear this in mind when they consider how to deliver a message. Integrators place a high value on traditions, and this too reflects their sensitivity to the feelings of others. After all, where do traditions come from? People. And from the Integrator’s perspective, things that are important to people deserve respect.

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Drivers value challenge and they generate momentum

*This is the third post in a four-part series about the Business Chemistry types. Check out the first and second posts in the series, about Pioneers and Guardians, respectively, and watch for the upcoming post about Integrators. Subscribe here so you don’t miss it! 

Ask people the best thing about Drivers, and a clear theme emerges: They get sh*t done. Even when it’s difficult. Especially when it’s difficult. Because if you had to capture the spirit of Drivers in a word, it would be CHALLENGE. Drivers love a challenge, and they love to challenge. They are focused and competitive. To get the results they want, Drivers will calculate the shortest possible path and stay on course despite whatever, or whoever, gets in their way. This directness infuses everything they do, from the way they make decisions to the way they interact with others. They like to get to the point.

Drivers are not the warmest and fuzziest of the types. They don’t mince words and they don’t sugarcoat. Expecting small talk? Drivers see it as a waste of time. No clear agenda? Come back when you have one. Vague ambitions? Intuitive conclusions? Emotional interpretations? Good luck with that. Drivers are logical, technical, and quantitative. They want data and structure. Try to engage them without these things, and they have no qualms voicing their displeasure. Even if you do arrive armed with facts, don’t expect Drivers to accept them at face value. They will likely question your data, dispute your premise, and argue with your conclusion. But often that’s not a bad sign. Drivers are competitive and love to debate. They respect someone that can go toe to toe with them—and they don’t give out points to people who are self-eff acing. Tell a Driver you’re not that good at something and, chances are, they will believe you.

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The Chemistry of Trust: 8 Ways to Build More of It

What if you could be the kind of leader whose team had increased energy, was more productive, collaborated better with their colleagues, and stayed with your organization longer? What if your people suffered less chronic stress and were happier with their lives?

In the Neuroscience of Trust, published in a recent issue of Harvard Business Review, Paul Zak suggests that you can be that kind of leader by increasing trust on your team. He proposes eight management behaviors to help you do so. In considering his ideas, I matched his suggestions up against the Business Chemistry types, knowing that different things make the various types tick. Here are the eight proposed behaviors and the types with which they’re most likely to be effective…

Induce “challenge” stress. Zak suggests that challenge stress, brought on by assigning teams difficult but achievable tasks, releases chemicals in our brains that increase social connections. This technique may be particularly effective for Drivers, who are more likely than the other types to report that they thrive in the face of challenging tasks. 1

Give people discretion in how they do their work. In other words, enable autonomy by allowing people to complete projects in their own way—if you trust your people, they’re more likely to trust you. When asked about autonomy, Pioneers and Drivers (particularly D-Scientists) say it’s more important to them than Integrators and Guardians do.

Enable job crafting. Job crafting means, in part, empowering people to choose which projects they work on. This technique may be particularly successful with Pioneers, who are the most likely type to say they thrive when they have opportunities to learn and try new things. Who knows better which work has the right level of “new” than your people themselves?

Share information widely. Zak suggests that lack of information about an organization’s direction can cause chronic stress among employees. Cultivating trust by sharing such information may be most essential with Guardians, who our research suggests experience the highest levels of stress, and are also the type most likely to say clear expectations are important to them.

Recognize excellence. A little recognition is likely to go long a long way for all types of people, but our research shows that Guardians and Integrators are more likely than Pioneers and Drivers to say that recognition is a key ingredient for them to thrive at work. Given that the work of these types can sometimes go unseen, acknowledging their contributions could be a particularly effective trust-builder with them.

Intentionally build relationships. Zak cites his own research suggesting that creating social ties at work improves performance. This may be particularly valuable with Integrators, who are the most relationship-focused type and also the most likely to say that working with people they enjoy is a priority for them. A little bit of focused attention to relationship-building can help in creating mutual trust.

Facilitate whole person growth. By whole-person growth Zak means helping people grow both professionally and personally, and that can mean different things for different people. While all the types put a high priority on a feeling of accomplishment, Drivers, particularly D-Commanders, are more likely than the other types to say advancement is important to them, while Guardians and Integrators prioritize work-life balance more than others, and Pioneers are the most likely type to say it’s important to know they’re making a difference in the world. When your people know you understand them and see them as people, not just employees, they’re more likely to put their trust in you.

Show vulnerability: As a leader, being vulnerable enough to ask for help when you need it is perhaps one of the scariest but most effective means of role-modeling trust. Doing so demonstrates to all types of people that asking for help is okay, that they can trust you enough to ask when they need it. By asking your people to have your back, you’ll show them that you’re going to have theirs. And isn’t that really what trust is all about?

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

1Research findings in this post are based on a study with 13,885 professionals of varying levels working outside Deloitte, in the US and elsewhere. Participants represent more than 1,200 organizations across various industries, and 115 countries overall. During the period of February, 2016 to November, 2016 participants completed the Business Chemistry assessment online and also answered questions about their career aspirations, career priorities, and the working conditions under which they thrive. For each question, respondents were asked to select their top three options out of a list of 10. The margin error for this sample is less than two percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level, for all Business Chemistry types.

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.

The Business Chemistry guide to navigating office holiday parties

‘Tis the sThe Business Chemistry guide to navigating office holiday partieseason for requisite office holiday parties, with the associated potential for social awkwardness as you mingle. At work parties, while there are many things to avoid doing in general (drunken karaoke probably being high on that list), there are also things that are particularly unappealing to specific individuals based on their different working styles. So to help make your interactions as pleasant as possible this season, here’s a quick list of what to do, and more importantly what NOT do, with each of the four main working styles you’ll see across your bosses and co-workers.

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