Across the country, companies are starting to talk about the next phase of the pandemic response, and how they might adapt operations in some form over the next several months. Many are considering a careful, limited, and gradual in-person office re-opening, even if the office space itself looks vastly different than before. But regardless of the new safety measures in place and the pace of resuming business in person, it’s clear that we’re entering uncharted waters.
How we react to those waters is, of course, entirely subjective. And depending on your personality type (according to the Wiley DiSC Profile), you’re probably adapting to the idea of the next normal at work in a vastly different way than some of your colleagues.
DISC theory was researched and defined by Harvard University professor, Dr. William Moulton Marston. It’s widely used as a method of identifying traits and actions for human behavior. He’s categorized these traits into four general types of behaviors. Each quadrant has a predominant trait, leaning more toward one of the following behaviors than the others: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, or Conscientiousness.
While everyone exhibits all of these behaviors to some extent, most people will lean heavily into one preferred behavior quadrant or another. When a company or team is made up of a strategic balance of people who regularly exhibit these types of behaviors (and when everyone on the team understands the motivations behind each others’ behaviors), the group will function most effectively.
As we each grapple with the prospect of yet another transition, we will likely exhibit behaviors that are aligned with our personality types. So we thought it would be interesting to make a few predictions.
Here’s a lighthearted look at a very complex and emotional adjustment, and how each behavior type might be coping with the concept of the Next Normal. Chances are high that you’ll feel one of the following types describes you pretty well, and you’ll definitely recognize your colleague, your manager, or even your partner in the others:
Behavior Type #1: Dominance
Someone who demonstrates the ‘Dominance’ behavior is an innate, natural-born leader. This person is not only up for any challenge, but faces it head-on and takes others along for the ride. During the pandemic, this person may have quickly switched into ‘on’ mode, coming up with their own personal strategy for remaining productive at their new home office. They might also be the first to raise their hand for more work or to take on a new project when they saw the opportunity. If you fall into the ‘Dominance’ behavior range, your perseverance, hard-work, and confidence are likely valued—and, well, hard to miss.
If your type is Dominance you will:
- Create new personal career goals for the next phase of the pandemic, without being asked. And actively work on them even if you’re currently furloughed or working reduced hours.
- Research and read every article you can about the predictions for the future of work and how workplaces will shift as a result. Study these relentlessly, and casually drop your learnings into conversations wherever possible.
- Slack messages to your colleagues to explain your thought processes, opinions, and theories about the relative risks of the commute back to the office. You may even post these on a company-wide channel, voicing your opinion confidently.
- Get excited thinking about the challenge of returning to the office, but have a handful of worries. These you will voice to your manager, human resources, or, frankly, anyone who will listen.
Behavior Type #2: Influence
Close your eyes and think of the person in your office who has a special knack for bringing people together. This person may appear calm and collected, optimistic, and at times, impressively ‘smiley.’ Whether it’s you or another employee, these characteristics are usually associated with the ‘Influence’ behavior type. These workers have likely struggled with remote work, since they thrive off the physical energy of others. They probably volunteer to help with morale-boosting initiatives both inside and outside of work. And, more than likely, everyone loves them for it.
If your type is Influence you will:
- Create a countdown on your phone the moment the date for phase one is announced, so you can start to get excited. When the announcement is posted in Slack, you will add at least four emoji reactions to illustrate your joy.
- Actively text message, call, and email various team members to discuss their upcoming plans for the next phase of work.
- Research various videos about bringing virtual and in-person teams together and share them with decision-makers. If these instructions offer any tips on body language or communication, you’ll ask a friend or loved one to practice them with you at home.
Behavior Type #3: Steadiness
Loyalty, among other traits, is the strength of the ‘Steadiness’ behavior type. People who demonstrate these behaviors most often are the definition of a ‘team players,’ and they are the first ones to encourage others to follow suit. While the ‘Influence’ type is bubbly and expressive like a hare, a ‘Steadiness’ style behaves more like a tortoise. These are the people who listen, encourage collaboration, and consistently meet deadlines. If you are one who falls into the “Steadiness” range, you will usually do your work diligently, and without question, setting a great example for others.
If your type is Steadiness you will:
- Suggest (yet another) Zoom call with the entire team to ‘celebrate’ the new plan and strategize the details. Volunteer to create the meeting agenda to keep it fun and productive. Cameras on, please!
- Set up a 1:1 discussion with a team member who seems nervous, and encourage them to trust that the company has always put the health and safety of their employees and customers first.
- Are the first to raise your hand to support leadership, when your boss asks for volunteers to create teams that will help one another through the next transition.
Behavior Type #4: Conscientiousness
Though they may not be as extroverted as ‘Influence’ or as confident as ‘Dominance,’ every workplace needs ‘Conscientiousness’ superstars. Employees who demonstrate conscientiousness behaviors are often quiet, yet highly effective, and they thrive on information. When a colleague wants an opinion they know they can trust that’s rooted in data and figures, they reach out to their Conscientiousness-style counterparts. Leaders look to these professionals as fact-checkers and experts within their fields of study. If your behaviors fall into a ‘compliance’ range, you probably spent a fair amount of time over the last few months researching stats and data about the causes, spread and mortality rates of COVID-19. As you think about in-office work, you will spend time analyzing every aspect, from mental health, to physical health, to engagement and productivity.
If your type is Conscientiousness you will:
- Lean on the evidence from epidemiologists across the world, as you analyze every last bit of data you can find. Your primary goal is to understand how best to keep yourself (and everyone else around you) safe.
- Print out company emails about new hygiene procedures and make a wallet card for easy reference. Offer to make copies for any colleagues who would like to snag one, too.
- Take time to list out every pro and every con of returning workers to the office. Then, you’ll send this information to decision-makers, citing sources, and providing recommendations for company policies and timelines based on the research.
- Ask very specific questions about how each person will balance their unique family needs. You’ll grow weary if leadership doesn’t have a clear, science-based answer.