Beyond Name Tags: 3 Keys to Cracking the Code of Your Team (and Joe!)

You may be well past “Hello, my name is” but how well do you really know your team? Building a truly connected team requires understanding each other’s thinking and communication styles, strengths, and even quirks.

Take the following three action steps to dive deeper than “Hello”:

1. Decipher Energy Source

How do your team members re-energize and think best? Is Joe an introvert who needs space to mull things over before joining the fray, or is he an extrovert who fuels his creative engine by bouncing ideas off others? Understanding your team member’s process – their preferred “idea incubator” and what energizes them – can help you tap into their brilliance in the most effective way.

How do you determine a team member’s Energy Source? Ask. Not abruptly or out of the blue. During a conversation, start by sharing how you think best! This encourages reciprocal sharing, deeper understanding and helps strengthen your relationship.

And don’t assume. Maya may be overtly outgoing and able to strike up a conversation with anyone but that doesn’t always indicate that she thinks best out loud with others.

2. Understand Communication Style

Is Chloe reserved and slower to reveal emotion and opinions? Is Liam outgoing and quick to volunteer his ideas? Figuring out your team member’s communication style can unlock new levels of teamwork and understanding. Observe and adapt. Pay attention to team members’ verbal and nonverbal cues; their tone, body language, and even emoji choices can offer clues to their communication style.

  • Chloe, the Reserved Thinker. Don’t mistake her silence for disinterest; she’s probably brewing a well-considered response. Active listening is important. When Chloe does speak, give her your full attention. Her insights, once shared, can be valuable gems. Ask clarifying questions to draw out her deeper thoughts and perspectives. Be comfortable with pauses and give her the space to process information and formulate her contributions. Imagine Chloe as a chess player, carefully analyzing the board before making her move.
  • Liam, the Enthusiastic Idea Machine. Liam might be a whirlwind of ideas, eager to share them with the world. Find the sweet spot. Encourage Liam’s passion, but also help him refine his approach. Structure can be helpful. Brainstorm sessions with clear goals and time limits can channel his energy productively. Gently suggest framing his ideas with supporting evidence or data to enhance their impact. Picture Liam as a rocket blasting off with a burst of creative energy.

Open communication is key. Talk to your team members! Express your interest in understanding their preferences and finding ways to communicate effectively together. Learning to appreciate and work with each team member’s unique way of communicating can enrich your team dynamic.

3. Discover Strengths

We all shine in different ways. Amanda’s an organization whiz? Maybe she can help streamline your project workflow. Is she an expert at messaging? Invite her to give your next pitch a polish. Recognizing and utilizing each other’s strengths is what makes a team truly unstoppable.

Most measurable personality traits are linked to four brain systems – the serotonin, dopamine, testosterone and estrogen systems. All of us have each of the four systems. We are not a single personality “type.” It’s the intensities, our individual mix of high scores – and lower scores – that comprise our unique personality and make us who we are.

Here are just a few of the traits linked to the following brain systems:

  • Serotonin. Perhaps you’re cautious—but not fearful. You just want to make sure you’re going into something with your eyes wide open. You may like the tried-and-true and value tradition. If there are rules or procedures in place, you prefer to follow them.

    You may be a concrete thinker and want to talk facts rather than hypotheticals. You may be organized and like to prepare in advance. You’re thorough. You like schedules and routine. You want to know what’s going to happen—and when.
  • Dopamine. You may like adventure and seek out novelty. You may come up with lots of ideas and like to innovate. You love variety. You’re spontaneous and sometimes impulsive. You like to think about the future and envision the possibilities!

    Perhaps you’re curious by nature, and like to explore the physical as well as the mental. That could mean diving into new topics, adding new skills, or researching something random simply because you want to know more. You may be optimistic, enthusiastic and very flexible.
  • Testosterone. You might be bold and direct. You say what you mean and can make decisions quickly – even if all the facts aren’t in. You like to consider issues through debate and don’t take it personally if that debate gets heated. You’re likely to rely on logic rather than emotion.

    You may be good at understanding certain rule-based systems – perhaps you’re intrigued by weather patterns, the structure of a building, anything mechanical, you love new technology, or you really enjoy math or science. You want to understand how each individual part interacts with all of the others. When truly interested in a topic, you know everything about it – every date, measurement, specification, the smallest differences between similar things!
  • Estrogen. People typically know that you care about them. You’re compassionate and sensitive to others’ needs. You want people to feel included and involved. You may be good at reading body language. Connecting with others is important to you. You want to create a bond and feel a sense of trust.

    You may reflect on social situations after they occur. You want background and context. You think about what people said and consider why they might have said that. You may look beyond the words and imagine how someone must be feeling. Why they’re behaving in a particular way. Emotions last. If you hear a sad story or an inspiring speech, it may stick with you longer than it does with others.

Remember that everyone has each of the four brain systems. You’ll probably see certain trait groups that really resonate with you. That doesn’t mean that you never display traits related to the other brain systems. It just means that traits linked to one or more of the other brain systems play a larger role in your overall approach. The same is true for your team members.

Embrace the diversity. Different styles bring different strengths to the table. After all, a team full of Joes would be, well, a little Joey, wouldn’t it? Your team members aren’t just colleagues, they’re hidden resources. Leverage everyone’s strengths for team wins!

Get Curious to Fuel Collaboration and Success

Remember: This is just a starting point. The value of getting to know your team members lies in the unique discoveries you make along the way and using that information to interact more effectively. So, unlock the hidden gems within your team, starting with Joe, and watch your collaboration soar!