The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed work as we know it. The virus has split up work teams whose members now need to work remotely. Team leaders need to motivate, emotionally support, and effectively manage a physically dislocated team of remote workers. Team members need to balance family life with their work and ensure that they both support their family and contribute to the team effectively and productively.
How can you make your team thrive during disruption? As a team member, how can you best contribute to your colleagues with your natural talents? And as a team leader, how can you get the best out of your team in times of crisis? How can you manage remote workers both effectively and empathetically? Enter TIPS, Thinkergy’s Innovator Profiling System designed for business and innovation success in the VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) world of the early 21st century.
TIPS uses four cognitive styles (to think, work, interact, and live) as well as four social attractor fields (the TIPS bases: theories, ideas, people, systems) to profile people into eleven distinct innovator profiles (All-Rounder, Coach, Conceptualizer, Experimenter, Ideator, Organizer, Partner, Promoter, Systematizer, Technocrat, and Theorist).
Every TIPS profile has a unique combination of TIPS styles and is attracted to one or more of the four TIPS bases. A work team typically comprises a mix of different profiles, cognitive styles, and base orientations. At the same time, certain TIPS styles and base orientations tend to dominate in most work teams based on their functional focus (e.g., sales, finance, operations). Understanding how to best utilize the different styles and bases in a work team is essential in normal times, and it becomes vital in times of crisis where every team member counts.
How can you get the best out of your team during this crisis?
Make everyone in the team play on their natural talents that are linked to their preferred cognitive styles and to the socio-economic environment that attracts them most. How?
- Assign crisis-related work tasks and projects so that each team member stays in their sweet spot.
- Enable everyone to work on those activities that connect to their preferred TIPS style to think, work, interact, and live.
- Finally, manage people in line with their preferred cognitive styles.
How to best utilize the different TIPS styles in your team in crisis times?
a) The TIPS Thinking style: Figure vs. Fantasy
The TIPS thinking style comes in three expressions: Figure-, Fantasy-, and Figure & Fantasy-thinkers. Most work teams have all of these thinking styles represented in the group. How to best utilize them during the crisis?
- Let the analytical Figure-thinkers in your team think through the financial, economic, and legal implications related to the crisis. They are also the best to scrutinize and interpret numbers correctly and then deduce appropriate action strategies for the team to move forward.
- Use the creative Fantasy-thinkers in your team to collect new market intelligence. Then, let them connect the dots between all those many things that are going on in a hectic and chaotic market environment. Also, call upon your Fantasy-thinkers whenever it’s time to engage in creative problem-solving for urgent issues. Last but not least, let them create new or adapted products that cater to unique customer needs in crisis times. After all, the lockdown makes people form new habits that often will last, thus providing openings for new products, services, and solutions that cater to these new habits.
b) The TIPS Work style: Brain vs. Brawn
Based on their preferred work style, TIPS distinguishes people into Brain-, Brawn-, and Brain & Brawn-workers. How can you make the best use of the different work styles of your team members?
- Brain-workers are the best at taking in the strategic implications of the crisis for your industry, company, and team. These conceptual knowledge workers can picture different scenarios on how economies, markets, and industries might evolve as the crisis continues to unfold in waves of disruptive change. Then, they develop strategies on how to best respond to each scenario. Brain-workers also excel at predicting what political, economic, societal, and technological trends may emerge as a result of the crisis.
- While Brain-workers focus on the big picture, let all Brawn-workers in your team take care of all the small picture issues of your business. These operational, hands-on knowledge workers enjoy dealing with the nuts and bolts of the business. They work through the many To-Dos and particular issues caused by the crisis and get things done. Moreover, they can help the team get organized in their new (remote) work reality.
c) The TIPS Interaction style: Fact vs. Feeling
The TIPS interaction style allows you to understand how the members of your work team prefer to make a case, decide, and interact with each other. Here, we distinguish between Fact-, Feeling-, and Fact & Feeling-interactors:
- Invite your Fact-interactors to perform reality checks for the team. As truth-seeking realists, they enjoy separating fact from fiction. They confront over-optimism based on false hopes as much as unfounded doomsday prophecies and conspiracy theories. They scrutinize freshly emerging data to ensure unbiased decisions based on the most recent evidence. Especially in times of crisis, it’s also welcome that they catch and counter anyone engaging in B.S. (i.e., bullshit, nonsense talk, typically to be misleading or deceptive).
- Feeling-interactors provide comfort and emotional support to team members, customers, and anyone else who needs encouragement and help. These friendly, interpersonal members are the glue that holds a team together. By their nature, they take an empathetic point of view on a case and consider the consequences of decisions on the people they affect. On the other hand, they also suffer most from being asked to work remotely and from “social distancing” regulations. So, as a team leader, connect with your Feelers frequently to check how they’re doing and show that you care for them.
d) The TIPS Lifestyle: Form vs. Flow
TIPS differentiates the members in your team based on their preferred lifestyles into Form-, Flow-, and Form & Flow-people:
- Authorize your Form-people to implement —and ensure compliance to— all the crisis-related regulations, policies, and procedures that ensure everyone’s safety and health. Also, use your Form-people to identify crisis-related dangers and risks for your business, and to devise protective risk management strategies to mitigate and minimize the related negative implications. By the way, as a team leader, there’s no need to check on those dutiful, reliable Form-people in your team. At 8 a.m. sharp, they’re likely to sit in formal work attire at their desk at home to begin their workday.
- While Form-people hedge your business against the downside of the crisis, the Flow-people in your team can help you to realize its potential upside. These entrepreneurial, dynamic team members naturally spot new opportunities arising in a crisis. Then, they make suggestions on how to seize the most promising opportunities quickly. Flow-people also come up with bold ideas on how to reposition the business to flourish in the new post-crisis world. They know that following a significant discontinuity, the world will not be the same again, and will not return to the old status quo. As a team leader, resist the temptations to check in often on your Flow-co-workers. Keep them on a long leash and give them flexibility with regards to work times, as they tend to work in leaps and bounds and need higher degrees of freedom to work at their best.
Conclusion: Utilize the diversity in your team to thrive during crisis
TIPS can help you to better respond to the crisis by making all members of your team play on their preferred cognitive styles and their dominant home base. Each of the TIPS profiles has a unique mix of talents linked to their TIPS styles and their dominant TIPS base. As a team leader, uncover those talents and activate them to make your team and business survive and thrive during the crisis. It’s a bit like in chess – every piece has its place on the board and can move in specific ways. As the game unfolds, move every figure with strategic foresight, and in harmony with their unique strengths — and you’re more likely to win the game.
- Do you want to learn more about TIPS and its abundant business applications? Check out our TIPS website or download our TIPS booklet.
- Are you ready to get TIPS-ed now and uncover your TIPS profile for $89? Click here to get to our TIPS online personality test platform.
- Are you interested in profiling your team or the entire company so that we can map out your results? And then, teach you in a webinar on how to better align your talents to thrive during disruption? Contact us to tell us more.
© Dr. Detlef Reis 2020. The article is published in the Thinkergy Blog on April 23, 2020. It will be re-printed in a shorter version in the Bangkok Post on April 30, 2020.