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Building a stronger team: how to create an environment where employees feel safe to share

by | Nov 1, 2019

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As much as some people want to believe they are, no one is good at absolutely everything. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. And that’s okay. At Herrmann, we believe that there is no wrong, right, good or bad. Thinking is situational, so a certain thinking style may be perfect for a certain situation, but that same thinking style might not be quite right for a different situation. It’s when we’re trying to fit a square plug into a round hole that problems begin to occur. By denying the fact that your thinking preferences won’t always align to every situation at hand, you miss out on opportunities to grow, learn and develop. What’s more, your team misses out on opportunities to identify and fill any skill gaps. A workplace where everyone is pretending to be perfect creates a culture of dishonesty. Instead, recognise that no one has all the answers and create a culture where it’s okay to share, fostering more genuine relationships and creating stronger, more cohesive teams. 

Recognise and accept that everyone has different strengths

The Herrmann Whole Brain® framework theorises that all people think differently, and that these different thinking styles impact how we communicate, how we collaborate and how we work. The four different thinking styles are represented in four quadrants of the Whole Brain® Model. These four thinking styles are analytical, relational, practical and experiential, with each type of thinker having their own strengths. For example, an experimental thinker may be really good a visualising and working toward the “big picture”, and as such, may be really good at strategic planning. On the other hand, they tend to be less focused on the small details, and could get carried away without ensuring they’re crossing their Ts and dotting their Is. Practical thinkers are very detail-oriented and make for great project managers, but tend to be less experimental and may feel uncomfortable with tight deadlines or unexpected changes. If we can recognise that we’re not going to be great at everything, we can identify where the gaps in our skills are, and work to fill these gaps by collaborating with thinkers that complement our thinking style and have strengths in the areas we lack. 

Build trust

But while understanding your thinking style is one thing, voicing that your approach may not work for every situation is another. It can be hard for employees to be open and honest, for fear that they’ll look incompetent or be penalised. One way to overcome this barrier is to build a culture of trust where employees feel safe to share. It’s about building strong, genuine and honest relationships where employees feel valued, heard and acknowledged, giving them the confidence to speak up. Employees must know that if they speak up, their ideas won’t be immediately shot down. It not only means they’ll be more likely to share, but they’ll be better communicators and collaborators in general, which in turn will lead to more effective and productive teamwork. 

Lead by example

One way to create a trusting and safe working space that encourages honest communication and sharing is to is to lead by example. Culture comes from the top, so if you’re a leader who’s closed, standoffish and uncommunicative, you can expect that to trickle down. Be open and honest with how you communicate and what you share. It’s especially important to be honest when it comes to your own mistakes and failures. If your employees know it’s okay to take risks, and to fail, they’ll be more likely to share with you, meaning a more transparent workplace and a more cohesive team.

Help your employees understand themselves and their teammates

One way to help your employees recognise their own thinking styles, as well as those of their teammates, is theHBDI® Team Profile. The assessment provides a comprehensive analysis of their own thinking styles and the thinking styles of their colleagues so they can better understand how their working styles fit together, and how they can use their strengths and weaknesses to be a more cohesive team. It gives your employees the tools to recognise that they’re not going to be great at everything (and that’s okay). 

Recognise and celebrate diversity

Once you’ve determined how different people on your team prefer to think, work to fill any gaps. As a leader it’s important to not only employ diverse workers, but to also ensure that this diversity is celebrated. In this way, you’ll ensure that your workers understand that diverse opinions are not only respected, they’re highly valued, which encourages sharing.

How to use Whole Brain® Thinking and the HBDI® to build a stronger team

At the heart of the Whole Brain® Thinking framework is the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®), a powerful tool for assessing and defining how you think. The assessment provides you with a comprehensive HBDI® profile report the interprets to what degree you think in one of the four quadrants of the Whole Brain® Model. Once everyone on your team has identified and recognised what kind of thinker they are, they’ll be able to recognise their own strengths and shortcomings, enabling your whole team to work cohesively to fill any skill gaps. To find out more about the team HBDI® Profile, get in touch for a consultation.Understanding your employees' strengths

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