Posted: 29 Jul. 2020 12 min. read

How to connect with the Business Chemistry types virtually

When the nation was instructed to stay at home and work remotely on 23 March, none of us could have predicted how long it would last. Now, as we exceed 100 days of remote working, there are many questions arising about the future of work. One thing is for sure though, we’ll be forced to adopt new ways of working, engaging and communicating with colleagues and clients virtually.

As a follow up to our first ‘lockdown’ blog we resurveyed our Pioneers, Guardians, Drivers and Integrators to understand how to best connect with them when building a relationship virtually. And some responses were surprising.

Guardians, if given the chance, would prefer others to connect with them via email, granting them time to consider and craft an appropriate response. However, with the sheer volume of emails, and the need for action and momentum, Guardians don’t always have the luxury to carry out their work entirely on email. Nor does this approach work for the other Business Chemistry types. Guardians prefer to schedule calls with a clear purpose for the meeting, and share materials for review in advance. They like to be prepared, so calling them unexpectedly can put them (uncomfortably) on the spot. They also expect others to be prepared, so make sure you’re familiar with the virtual conferencing technology you’re using, and dial in early if necessary, to avoid unnecessary problems and time wasting.

Drivers do calls but with parameters. Calls should be scheduled in advance, unless you have a quick question; calling out of the blue could mean interrupting a Driver and they won't appreciate it. Do take the initiative with Drivers and set up the call but don’t be surprised if they want to call the shots. Schedule a time convenient for them so they can factor in any preparation time. Send a clear and concise agenda, instructions, and discussion points, provide the facts and evidence, and be prepared to deliver a 30 minute meeting in 15 minutes flat. Lose the small talk, and be prepared for a debate. Be quick, be smart, be gone, and they will thank you for it. They don’t call them Drivers for nothing!

Integrators want to connect, in the greatest sense of the word. It’s therefore not surprising that almost every Integrator we spoke to said that one of the best ways to connect with them in the virtual world was to “turn on video”. Integrators want to see who they’re speaking to and ensure they can ‘connect’; they are skilled at ‘reading’ people (even in Zoom windows), and they told us they noticed that joining via audio leads to noticeably poor behaviours such as multitasking. Some responses surprised us though. Some Integrators said they value small talk before jumping into business – and this was certainly the message at the start of lockdown – but with Zoom meeting overload, once Integrators have connected they are keen for others to "get to the point" quickly.

Pioneers would like you to call rather than send an email, discuss rather than tell, and ideate together, not alone. They will go off topic so don’t stifle them with structure or a rigid agenda, just go with their flow, whilst making sure you get the outcome you require from the meeting. Make the call exciting and different – remember Pioneers are easily distracted - they love a quick news story, or to hear about something you’ve just done or seen. They usually respond well to an instant message because it's one less email and allows them to provide a quick response. As Pioneers typically like to be creative and brainstorm, factor in additional time for this to ensure you cover off what you require. Here we were surprised again. Interestingly, some of our Pioneers want others to “arrive on time”, stating that the virtual world isn’t an excuse to be late to meetings, and “keep the meeting tight”.

So what shifts are we seeing? All the types have complained in some way of the exhaustion caused by video-calling, what has recently been coined ‘Zoom fatigue’. This just goes to show that none of the types are immune to feeling a little drained by days spent on video calls. However, this is still the best way for many of us to connect right now so remember to be deliberate in flexing your style in response to the evidence above.

What are your thoughts on how best to connect with you? What does a successful Zoom call involve? We want to hear from 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.