Posted: 16 Dec. 2019 5 min. read

Integrators in Hell: How to stop killing their potential

*This fourth post in a four-part series is about an Integrator (one of four Business Chemistry types), how the wrong work environment kills his potential, and what could be done about it. Read posts onetwo, and three of the series, about a Pioneer, a Guardian, and a Driver, respectively.

An Integrator we know and love, Hans, once embarked on a career journey that seemed like it could be the trip of a lifetime but turned out to be a bust. He joined up with a boss who, let’s just say was not his ideal work companion. When things started to heat up, Hans wished he’d never decided to work with him at all.

Things started all right when Hans was hired. He was excited about the new opportunity he’d been offered to build out the company’s sales network and the work seemed interesting and engaging. His boss was smart and successful and, as Hans developed his skills and career, he thought his boss would be a great coach. But as the first days turned into weeks, Hans soon grew concerned.

His boss never said, “Good morning” or “How was your weekend?” He didn’t ask Hans about his family or where he grew up or went to college. He didn’t even ask about his goals and aspirations. He didn’t ask much of anything at all.

That included not asking for Hans’s thoughts, opinions, or input. His boss told him things, and when Hans asked questions, whether work-related or a little more personal, the look his boss gave him seemed to say, “Why do you need to know that?” Hans felt his boss wasn’t interested in him as a person, or even as an employee, and he certainly didn’t seem to value what Hans might have to offer in the way of ideas. The boss seemed to go out of his way to interrupt or talk over Hans any time he tried to speak.

Since Hans was new to the job, he wasn’t sure what the boundaries were for how he should spend his time, so he erred more toward checking in than not. He thought he was being responsible, but his boss just seemed annoyed and responded in a way that was brusque, or even rude if Hans was being honest. As one particular project was kicking off, Hans made a concerted effort to spend some time with key stakeholders, asking for their thoughts and input on how to proceed. Hans found it hugely valuable. Several people identified areas where the company had stumbled in the past, and one revealed a possible competitive threat that hadn’t been on the radar. When Hans shared what he’d been doing, his boss told him in no uncertain terms that he considered such efforts a waste of their time. Getting the project done was the only priority; there was no reason to bring others along for the ride. When Hans tried to say that it was about more than just that, his boss didn’t even let him finish the sentence. He just dismissed him and walked away.

Hans had accepted the job thinking he’d be working in a team environment with others in similar roles. He had expected they would collaborate and help each other out, learn from each other, and even become friends. He tried to pitch in and offer his assistance when he saw someone else was overwhelmed. He thought anything he could do to help the organization would be appreciated. But when his boss caught him doing so, Hans wasn’t praised for his helpfulness; instead, he was scolded. The boss made it hard for him to forge any relationships to speak of, and Hans started to feel very isolated. Things got uncomfortable when his boss started to criticize how Hans was managing some vendor relationships. He said Hans was too friendly, that he needed to be more aloof so the vendor wouldn’t try to take advantage of them.

Hans started to feel he couldn’t do anything right and he began questioning his judgment. He stopped trying to take any initiative because it always seemed to get him into trouble. He no longer reached out to collaborate with others, and when someone asked for a little bit of help with something, he apologized but said he just didn’t have time, which made him feel bad and not at all like the best version of himself.

This job just wasn’t at all what Hans had been hoping it would be and he shared his disappointment far and wide with his large network of friends and family. When he received a survey from one of those “great workplace” lists he shared this story in full, even agreeing to talk to an interviewer about his experience. When the list and accompanying article eventually came out highlighting the best and worst workplaces, it prominently featured one of Hans’s quotes about his organization: “While misery loves company, I wouldn’t want anyone to suffer my fate, even if it would ease my loneliness. On the journey that is your career, I strongly recommend you skip this stop.”

Hans’s story is an excerpt from our book Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships (Wiley, 2018), in which my co-author, Kim Christfort and I have an in-depth, back-and-forth discussion about the strategies leaders and managers can use to create environments where Integrators like Hans can lean into their strengths and thrive.

Among these strategies are the following:

  • Support Integrators in their desire to help others and reward them for doing so
  • Provide opportunities to work in teams
  • Help Integrators see the meaning in their work
  • Spend time connecting
  • Use technology to make virtual teams and meetings more personal
  • Enable them to socialize issues and gather info from stakeholders
  • Be nice and say thank you



Buy "Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships" on Amazon
This is an excerpt from our book Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships (Wiley, 2018). Click the image to purchase the book on Amazon.

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Suzanne Vickberg (aka Dr. Suz)

Suzanne Vickberg (aka Dr. Suz)

Research Lead | Deloitte LLP

Dr. Suz is a social-personality psychologist and a leading practitioner of Deloitte’s Business Chemistry, which she uses to guide clients as they explore how their work is shaped by the mix of individuals who make up a team. Previously serving in Deloitte’s Talent organization, since 2014 she’s been coaching leaders and teams in creating cultures that enable each member to thrive and make their best contribution. Along with her Deloitte Greenhouse colleague Kim Christfort, Suzanne co-authored the book Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships as well as a Harvard Business Review cover feature on the same topic. She also leads the Deloitte Greenhouse research program focused on Business Chemistry and is the primary author of the Business Chemistry blog. An “unapologetic introvert” and Business Chemistry Guardian-Dreamer, you will never-the-less often find her in front of a room, a camera, or a podcast microphone speaking about Business Chemistry. Suzanne is a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate with an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business and a doctorate in Social-Personality Psychology from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. She has lectured at Rutgers Business School and several colleges in the CUNY system, and before joining Deloitte in 2009, she gained experience in the health care and consulting fields. A mom of two teenagers, she maintains her native Minnesota roots and currently resides in New Jersey, where she volunteers for several local organizations with a focus on hunger relief.