Posted: 28 Apr. 2020 7 min. read

Business Chemistry: thriving in a virtual world

In our last blog we looked at how different Business Chemistry types are operating in a virtual world; what they like about the new ways of working, and what they don’t. So let’s now explore the value each type can bring to this current situation.

Pioneers are motivated by novelty - change keeps them on their toes. Most likely they will stay optimistic about the situation and bring optimism to those they work with. Their imaginative nature means they can envisage lots of ways to address the new challenges, and their high energy and expressiveness can be contagious to others.

Guardians may not immediately embrace new approaches but will help pull new plans together and add the relevant detail. They’ll also consider contingency plans, keep a close eye on risk management, and will carefully consider the implications of changes. In times of ambiguity, their tendency to do this may be heightened, which can protect the team from making mistakes.

Drivers relish new challenges and will most likely enjoy taking the lead in coming up with new approaches and solutions. They will keep the team focused on action by creating momentum instead of getting stuck in the discussion phase and potentially falling behind. They will also experiment in order to find evidence for the best ways of doing things.

Integrators will make sure everyone is kept in the loop about new developments and that all team members have the opportunity to contribute their views. They will keep an eye out for those who may be struggling to adjust to new ways of working, and notice when a colleague is having an ‘off’ day. They will support colleagues and clients by understanding what matters most to them in the current situation and be there to listen and offer help where needed.

So what can you do as a leader to help your colleagues and team members thrive in this period?

Pioneers are more likely to be comfortable with change, but that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily see things the way you do. They may not stick to task! They’re good at coming up with ideas so ask them to brainstorm with you; this will help you explore possibilities and give them the freedom they crave in order to be the best form of themselves. This may also help align them with you moving forward. Pioneers may also need help translating their ideas into an actionable plan and defining the roles of all team members so it’s worth offering support here.

Guardians will need some time to process and adjust to what’s happening. Their need for certainty means they will want to bring order to what feels like chaos at times. They are at their best when they set out various options and scenarios for every eventuality to cope with the ‘what ifs’ so allow them to do this; rushing things here is not well-advised. And leave them alone to get their head down if they are feeling stressed with their workload. You can help Guardians let go of the status quo and maintain some level of continuity by emphasising what is known and true. They will also be more comfortable if you provide them with details, facts, and sources.

Drivers need to see the logical path from purpose (the reason why) to action and outcome, and they’ll likely get on board quicker if you share how new ideas and opportunities will help them meet their goals. They may need reminding to bring others onboard with their ideas though, because if they’re pushing so hard to make progress they may miss signs that others aren’t behind them. Frequent check-ins or pulse surveys may help to keep them informed but keep these short and sharp. They will also need feedback and agreed actions to keep momentum.

Integrators will be more comfortable if they know how people will be impacted by the changes. We hear the words ‘now, more than ever, we need to work closer together’ in times of flux, but total consensus may be unrealistic. Listen to the Integrators and communicate how and why decisions are made; this may help them to agree that sometimes you just need to push forward. To get them onboard, it’s a good idea to address how the changes fit into the broader context of the team, the organisation, the world, and the future.

It’s a challenging time. Sensitivities are more acute, uncertainty is a surety, routines are disrupted, adaptation is a requirement, and a new way of working is a must. Understanding the value each Business Chemistry type can bring to the current situation can help assign roles and responsibilities effectively across a team. We’ve also suggested how to help colleagues remove obstacles and thrive in this new world, but we want to hear your thoughts too. What works for you?

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Key contact

Jessica Dooley

Jessica Dooley

Senior Manager

Jessica founded and leads Deloitte’s Business Chemistry client practice for the UK and North South Europe member firms. A business behavioural tool designed to help teams communicate and collaborate better for greater success, Business Chemistry is a proprietary self-assessment tool used to support boards, executive, and senior leadership teams across the FTSE, private, and public sectors. She helps teams understand each other’s working styles; hold honest conversations; be better leaders of diverse teams; build plans for enhanced collaboration; team deliberately for a common purpose; and build trust quickly to achieve strategic and organisational goals. The book ‘Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Relationships – a guide to putting cognitive diversity to work’ was released in the US and UK in May 2018.