Growing up, I always wanted to hurry up and be an adult. The way I perceived adults– strict, grumpy, down to business– was what I strived to be. I spent college buckled down, working a full time third shift job and an afternoon gig in the Dean’s office along with my full time class roster. 

I could count on one hand the amount of times I had fun– because I was learning to be an adult, and adulting was not meant to be fun.

It was no surprise to me that I was promoted quickly once I started my first corporate job. I came in early, stayed late, worked through lunch, and never entertained small talk. I was 23 and wanted to be serious, working as much as I could to get ahead. On the rare occasion I went to a work event I made sure to talk only about business. I rolled my eyes at the people who would cut loose. Who would ever promote them?

A few years later, going through the application process at a new company, they required a personality test, termed as a “Teamability Report”. Always the overachiever, I tested as both a Vision Mover and Action Mover. 

The most accurate statement in the report stated “…you believe that if you are successful, that will be more important than other people’s feelings along the way.” Yep, that’s me. 

To no surprise, the corporate world mentality of ‘working your life away’ my personality test showed I was the perfect fit. At this company, I went from supervisor to manager in the first few months. That’s when I realized the other dimension to the personality tests, and they began to teach me how unaware I was.

I had two internal applicants that wanted to be transferred to my department. Along with their application was a copy of their personality profile. There were two views of the profile– one self directed and one for the manager. The managerial profiles were extremely blunt, to put it lightly. So blunt that I don’t know if I’d ever type it on a work computer – let alone share it. It felt like reading their diary, or getting to read a user manual that I shouldn’t have access to. These summaries though gave me an insight I was previously lacking. 

Take Bea* for instance. Based on the couple months I knew her, I wasn’t overly thrilled when her transfer came over, but that was really because of my narrow minded view of the kind of worker she was. She was very friendly and seemed to know everyone, but mostly I wished she would just close her mouth and get to work. If I had employee productivity metrics, she would be the smallest on the bar chart of “orders processed per hour by employee” (actually, I did have this metric. And she was the smallest on the chart). Bea’s profile was all true. But it told me how to leverage her weaknesses as my team’s strengths. 

I’ll never forget how stunned I felt when I read her profile– aptly titled “Communicator”– almost like it was speaking directly to me.

Often the Communicator’s manager simply wants them to get back to work. However, her strengths lie in her ability to spread your team’s vision. This happens naturally in her day to day conversations. The manager would be best suited to let her loose and leverage her by collecting the information she will bring back to you.

It was a complete perspective shift for me.

I loosened the reins, stopped being so uptight and stopping getting so frustrated when she wandered around from person to person. No, it wasn’t easy, but now I understood why it was important. I began engaging with her to gain knowledge about other things happening in the company. Pretty soon, I was more looped in with other areas and had a better understanding of the role we could help play together instead of in silos.

And so that is how The Communicator helped me add another dimension to my personality. And really, it was the first time I can say I learned how to work with people as people with different strengths to leverage.

For more thought leadership and my thoughts on stepping into your vision, follow me on LinkedIn or check out Poka-Yoke Solutions: The Ops Agency.

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