Posted: 01 May 2020 5 min. read

How your team can rally during tough times

No Giants, no Tigers, no Cubby Bears, oh my!

The canceled events, establishment closures, social distancing, and shelter-in-place orders brought a new meaning to March Madness. And, as a new month begins, it’s beginning to feel like the challenges will never end. How do I do my work effectively from home? How do I juggle caring for my kids while trying to work? Why is there no toilet paper anywhere? How does one manage through this chaos?

In our 2016 stress study, we learned that the Business Chemistry types experience stress and cope in different ways. During this current stressful period, it is perhaps more important than ever for us to acknowledge and respect each others’ varied needs. This is also an opportunity to lean into our strengths.

A Guardian’s dream?

Work from home, no public events, social distancing–this is a Guardian’s dream, right? But is it? 

Guardians crave stability and structure. While the isolation may very well give Guardians time to recharge, this period of constant change and uncertain future—this chaos—can feel like workplace hell to a Guardian.

How can you support your Guardian colleagues?

Recognize that with the constant change occurring right now, Guardians may be experiencing heightened stress in most aspects of their personal and professional lives. A Guardian’s preferred coping strategy is to lay the groundwork—to gather more information and get organized—through which they can better understand the situation, assemble a plan, and get back into a place of stability. Give them space to do so and help them identify and prioritize activities to mitigate or even alleviate some of the most stressful areas. Guardians also value quality and accuracy, and they might need help to understand that during this time, making things better may be more important than getting them perfect.

What’s a Guardian to do?

Guardians–you have an opportunity to be the backbone for your team! If you have the Guardian’s typical desire for stability, it may motivate you to find solutions that bring order and rigor. This can serve to calm the storm for you and your team. You may be used to playing the devil’s advocate to ensure quality; how about for now just playing the advocate, to help the team work out reasonable solutions that meet the immediate needs as quickly as possible? Many Guardians prioritize work-life balance. You may have figured out how to balance your own life in normal situations—perhaps share your learned strategies with your team to help them achieve the balance that may be missing for them during this tumultuous time.

Can Pioneers play?

Shut down this, cancel that, don’t leave the house! What’s a Pioneer to do? 

Pioneers are spontaneous and thrive on possibilities and engaging experiences. They may suddenly find themselves with limited options and an environment that feels like a cage. While they are inherently adaptable, this period of lockdown—this constraint—can feel like workplace hell to a Pioneer.

How can you support your Pioneer colleagues?

Our research shows that when faced with stress, most types—especially Pioneers—become more practical, conventional, and risk-averse. This is not a space Pioneers typically like to play in for very long. Acknowledge the Pioneer’s dislike of the current situation and suggest to them that once the foundation is stabilized, their creativity will be called upon to move the team forward. Ask them to help brainstorm ways your team can still be productive and even innovative in this time of stress.

What’s a Pioneer to do?

Pioneers—if there was ever a time we wanted you to lead, it is now! Life as most of us know it has changed dramatically, causing many people to worry about their future. As a Pioneer, your go-to coping mechanisms might include cognitive coping strategies like stepping back to consider the big picture or thinking through possibilities. When you lean into stress in this way, you can spark energy and imagination that can motivate the rest of us. Help us reframe our environment. How can we do what we do differently, maybe even better than before? What new opportunities are before us? Perhaps more importantly, how can we still have fun?

Exactly what is the “social” part of “social distancing”? 

Social distancing? Isn’t that an oxymoron? 

Integrators crave connection. This period of sequestration—this isolation—can feel like workplace hell to an Integrator.

How can you support your Integrator colleagues?

Integrators’ empathic nature can make them well suited to provide a humanistic perspective on any actions being considered. Seek out and listen to their ideas as they may not be comfortable offering them unsolicited, and recognize their contributions to the team. Provide opportunities for them to connect. Consider implementing technology that enables face-to-face video meetings and provide casual time to just decompress and socialize—without it being all about business. Create an environment where people can be authentic and vulnerable and help each other through these difficult times.

What’s an Integrator to do?

Integrators—believe it or not, most of us feel some sort of isolation during this time—you are not alone! If you have a knack for bringing people together–don’t hold back now! Maybe nudge your leader or take your own initiative to set up social forums for discussion. Help your team to understand that it is OK, perhaps even necessary, to be open about their specific challenges and come together as a team to support each other. Perhaps your ability to see nuances can help focus people on positive opportunities and collaborate on ways to add value to your teams and to society.

A new challenge?

Let’s do this! Let’s use this time to focus and get things done! [crickets chirp] What do you mean there are “other priorities”?

Drivers are goal-oriented and focused. They may not have missed a beat on their projects despite the changing environment. But the project stoppages and competing priorities—this obstruction—can feel like workplace hell to a Driver.

How can you support your Driver colleagues?

Drivers love a good challenge and seeing results. They may have a difficult time letting go of in-flight projects that have been put on hold due to recent events, so help them to reprioritize to address the most urgent needs. Ask for their help to define new projects that are surfacing to embrace the new normal. Partner with them to define new metrics for success during this time and, where necessary, relieve them of the pressure to perform at the same level to which they are accustomed. Remind Drivers that everyone deals with stress differently and that they may want to scale back their bias to action to attend to the needs of colleagues around them, or even their own needs.

Drivers—this is a time to generate momentum and drive change! If taking action is your go-to coping strategy, this can be invaluable to your teams when paired with an ability to make quick decisions and define and prioritize goals. Motivate the team to brainstorm and implement strategies to keep the team productive during this turbulent environment. Still, don’t ignore how the recent events may be affecting you. Acknowledge and discuss with others what you’re experiencing and understand that others may want similar support. Allow space for progress on both project goals and interpersonal connections.

Coming together when the going gets tough

No matter your Business Chemistry type, you’re likely finding the current times challenging, and you might have moments that get you down. But coming together as a team can help us all pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and rally. Because bringing together our collective strengths can mean your team is simultaneously rigorous, innovative, focused, and collaborative. Sounds like a winning combination anytime, but particularly when the going gets tough.

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Sandy La Scala

Sandy La Scala

Senior Manager

Sandy is a senior manager within the Deloitte Greenhouse® Experience. As the leader of the Business Chemistry team, she oversees the resources, initiatives, and deployment that enable Deloitte to globally deliver Business Chemistry sessions and insights. Sandy is an executive leadership and well-being coach, and received her business administration degree from the University Of Notre Dame. She lives in Southern California, and enjoys fitness adventures and escape rooms with her husband Paul and three teenage sons, who are all entranced with their Malti-Poo, Poppy.

Jessica Tankersley

Jessica Tankersley


Jessica is a consummate Pioneer who loves change, and works in the Deloitte Greenhouse® Experience where she enjoys helping clients with a variety of challenges with no easy answers. She has been with Deloitte for more than 5 years pursuing her passion—a better workplace for all. She has a degree in economics and finance from the University of Texas and an MBA from Southern Methodist University. She lives with her family in Virginia, but Texas will always be home.