I was recently sitting in a seminar ran by one of our associates on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in which he was explaining the tool and its uses.  I had one of those moments which I can only describe as an “aha” moment towards the end of the session, where we were talking about how dealing with some people can exhaust you more than others.

At BRS, I deal with clients from all our specialised industries of government, infrastructure and resources.  Within those industries I work with quite a few engineers, and have worked with many engineers in different roles in the past as well.  I am by no means an engineer, and those close to me outside of my working life would be surprised to see how much I work with them, and attempt to speak and understand their language and the unique challenges they face.  I should be clear I work in the non-technical areas but have a passion for their industry and seeing individuals improve.  I enjoy working with engineers and all of those in technical roles, but I’ve realised that after planning, engaging, talking or working with them, I feel sapped of energy.  But I never had actually paused to consider why.

The reason?  Well, quite obviously, it’s not my natural space and I am flexing to a different approach in order to achieve an outcome.   Once I made that realisation, I have to admit, I felt relieved.  It’s not that I was now going to just go “Oh well we’re different in our personal style so I’m not going to work with you anymore.” I have a funny feeling I wouldn’t have much work to do if that was the case!  It made me realise that there was a time and a place for everything.   Too much flexing is not necessarily a good thing. It can slow you down in the delivering of outcomes for clients and can mean that you’re not playing to your strengths.  There are other people in our team who I can call on to help out when I feel I am perhaps flexing a tad too far.   By considering the other person and what their preferences are before I’ve thrown myself in too deep, I can ascertain if I’m the best person to lead this, and who would be a better support to me to do so.  I could also look at the gaps and what I was possibly missing by putting myself in their shoes.  The benefit of all this?  A much more energised me, greater outcomes for the client and a more engaged team that was using their strengths as well.

Here are three keys steps you can ask yourself before jumping into a project or work with someone with a differing style to you:

  1. Start with the expectations. Make sure everyone is clear on expectations and approach, including things like timeframes, deliverables and how you would like to be communicated with.  I’m a big fan of talking through ideas before coming to a decisions, but a lot of people feel that verbalising makes it a decision. I should be clear when I am just brain storming, and make sure I communicate the final decision, when I’ve made it.
  2. Delegate and let everyone play to their strengths. You don’t have to do everything, quite often there is someone who is much better at you at something and they can offer help, see the gaps and take the lead when necessary. The same goes in return as there will be certain tasks that play more to your strengths and preferences than someone else.
  3. Take time to recharge the batteries. We all get busy, but you’re more likely to burn out if you don’t take the time after doing some long term flexing to play back in your natural preference for a while. Enjoy being you and you’ll find it much easier to approach the next flex.

This is by no means and exhaustive list and there are many more ways that you can find a bit more balance in your approach.  What are some of your ways of ensuring you can work with people with different preferences to you?